If any Israeli politician like Tzipi Livni is listening, the pipe bomb attack, in which the Israeli professor was lightly wounded by three pieces of shrapnel in the leg, should be a wake up call. It should reinforce the conviction that the government must deal with the settlements in an expedited fashion. It must craft a peace settlement with the Palestinians that involves withdrawal from most West Bank settlements in return for full peace with all Palestinian factions (including Hamas).
To do anything less, means allowing settler extremists like those who attempted to assassinate Sternhell to take the initiative in the political battle for the soul of Zionism. I fear that Israel will do “anything less.” Look what happened when Rabin was assassinated by the same type of individual. The peace process was set back decades and while the assassin was caught and convicted, the movement he represents is ready to kill again to advance its agenda.
If Israel does not see this as a cancer in its midst and take decisive action, then I’m afraid that not only is Israeli democracy in danger, the entire Zionist enterprise is in equal danger. Read carefully the words below and ponder their meaning:
“ENOUGH! A prize of 1.1 million shekels ($300,000) is offered to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now. The State of Israel has become our enemy. The time has come to establish a halachic-state in Judea and Samaria! It is time for the Kingdom of Judea!”
–Army of Liberators
“The State of Israel has become our enemy.” That’s a sobering statement. If a violent Jewish extremist group can say this then why doesn’t the state recognize it as a mortal enemy and act appropriately? After 9/11, the west awoke to the danger posed by Al Qaeda. Settlerism is no less a threat in the domestic Israeli context.
Public security minister Avi Dichter released a strong statement:
Dichter described the event…[as] an “assassination attempt” and a “nationalistic terror attack perpetrated, in all likelihood, by Jews, which pushes our society many years backward.”
…”The pipe bomb that was planted yesterday should be viewed as a bomb meant to kill. The law enforcement authorities will not rest until the terrorists are put where they belong in prison.”
But is this nothing more than the typical statement released by a politician faced with such an event? Or is there any understanding that this is more than just an isolated event?
Zeev Sternhell is one brave individual. Here is what he said from his hospital bed about the attack:
…If this act was not committed by a deranged person but by someone who represents a political view, then this is the beginning of the disintegration of democracy.”
“The very occurrence of the incident goes to illustrate the fragility of Israeli democracy, and the urgent need to defend it with determination and resolve,” he added.
“On the personal level,” he went on to say, “if the intent was to terrorize, it has to be very clear that I am not easily intimidated; but the perpetrators tried to hurt not only me, but each and every one of my family members who could have opened the door, and for that there is no absolution and no forgiveness.”
Americans for Peace Now has naturally been covering this story intensively and provided the flyer image I used above. For more of their coverage click here.
There will be rightist apologetics seeking to temporize the meaning of this event. But let’s not pussyfoot. Jews have seen their share of fratricide going all the way back to Cain and Abel. The Sicarii assassinated fellow Jews during the Roman era. The Macabees killed Hellenizing collaborators. In the 1920s, left-Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff was murdered on a Tel Aviv beach by rightist opponents. In 1983, a Jewish extremist threw and hand grenade into a Peace Now demonstration killing one of its leaders, Emil Grunsweig. Yigal Amir assassinated Yitzhak Rabin. And now this.
Malcolm X said “violence is an American as apple pie.” We can certainly say that Jewish fratricide in sadly inscribed somewhere in our DNA. But the question is, what will we do about it? Will we allow a fifth column in our midst that seeks to overthrow Israeli democracy? Or will we show resolve and treat those who betray Judaism and the state with the harsh response they deserve?