In a startling development, Israeli police are investigating a successful effort by Israeli settler extremists to bribe IDF soldiers not to evict their members occupying the Palestinian House of Dispute in Hebron illegally (according to a Supreme Court ruling):
Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has instructed police to launch an investigation regarding a ceremony that was held to praise soldiers who refused an order to evict settlers from the Hebron market. During the ceremony these soldiers received payment as reward for their refusal.
The order was given following a police investigation that raised suspicion that soldiers were incited to refuse commands, an act which under Israeli law is a crime in itself.
Nitzan also ordered an investigation into an ad published on the Internet by a group called the Headquarters to Save the People and the Land of Israel [ed., also known as S.O.S. Israel], which is suspected to be the organization responsible for orchestrating the ceremony for the soldiers. The ad states that any soldier that resists orders to evict the residents of the Hebron house will receive monetary reward of several thousand NIS.
This is effect turns the soldiers into reverse mercenaries for hire, bribed so as not to obey legally authorized military orders.
S.O.S. Israel’s website contains this statement denouncing the Supreme Court’s ruling directing settlers to leave the Palestinian home which was appropriated through an act of fraud:
…Any soldier that will resist expulsion orders and will be jailed, will receive monetary compensation of several thousand NIS.
…”The court has proven once again that it collaborates with the enemy, in order to uproot Jews from their land. We call upon all Eretz Yisroel loyalists to come en masse and foil our enemies’ (from within and without) plans…
“We plead with IDF soldiers who swore on a Tanach at the Kosel [Kotel or “Wall”] …to be loyal to the Jewish Nation and the homeland; do not join forces with the enemy, rather resist orders and help the Chevron residents not to be robbed of their property”.
Rabbi Volpo [Wolpe], SOS-Israel…will compensate the soldiers’ families if they resist orders and are jailed. “We wish to remind the security forces of that wonderful event where we presented parents of jailed soldiers with the sum of 1,000 NIS for every night spent in jail for refusing to evict Jews.
Even more startlingly, Wolpe has called for the execution of prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni:
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe…liken[ed] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers to collaborators with the Nazis, saying that by law they should be executed.
…Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the “Nazi” terrorists.
law they should be executed…During the meeting…Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the the modern-day “Nazis” in the Palestinian Authority by giving them weapons and releasing terrorist killers from prison. According to Israeli law, the rabbi elaborated, Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and others should be “hanged upon the gallows” for collaborating with and aiding “Nazi” terrorists.
“This gathering is intended to make it clear to the public that…we have a government that collaborates with the enemy, the Palestinian enemy that wants to destroy Israel. The government of Israel is supplying them with money and weapons, releasing murderers…. We came to warn and discuss how we can prevent this, G-d forbid, holocaust that the government is bringing on us.”
In this blog, I’ve documented numerous acts and statements by settlers that would be viewed as outright sedition in most other nations. Clearly, radical settlers reject the very notion of the State of Israel and publicly declare their intent to create a settler state to replace it. And they are willing to use violence to implement their plans. Only in Israel is such treason treated so gingerly.
The Headquarters to Save the People-S.O.S. Israel is yet another extremist settler group, this one led by Rabbi Dov Wolpe. The latter has lately attained notoriety for this statement published in Haaretz:
“The state of Israel has become the enemy of the people and the land of Israel,” settler rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Tuesday during an emergency meeting on the state’s plan to evacuate a house in Hebron whose ownership has been at the center of a bitter dispute for over a year.
Wolpe is a Chabad rabbi affiliated with the messianic strand of the movement which affirms that the late Rabbi Schneerson was the messiah. The Failed Messiah blog calls Wolpe the most popular Chabad rabbi in Israel.
Many readers who oppose my views praise Israeli democracy in glowing terms. In doing so, they refuse to acknowledge both the frailty and the incompleteness of Israeli democracy. Stories like the one above indicate that democracy is a very thin reed in Israel. There are those who would break the reed with a faint breath if they thought they could get away with it. And their overall goal is to destroy Israel as a western democratic state and replace it with a theocratic state.
This is not a theoretical problem or an issue confined to a radical fringe. This is a situation in which a radical fringe is playing a major role in throwing a wrench in the national works, thus preventing the state from acting in its overall interests. In any other stable western nation, such an interest group would be dealt with firmly. Not in Israel, because the settlers have a stranglehold over the policy, political, and military apparatus.
There is only one way to face down the insurrectionists and saboteurs. A political leader will have to stare them in the eyes and dismantle their power. Sharon could’ve done it if he’d had it in him. Livni—well, the jury’s out on her. Perhaps doubtful. But until someone does, Israel will be a state in search of stable democratic center and the lunatics will be running, or trying to run, the national asylum.