My friend, Stefan Merken, brings me news of a particularly hideous column (in Hebrew) from the Israeli rightist daily, Maariv, dealing with last week’s riots in Hebron. It was written by Kalman Libskind, a reporter for the paper. Before I quote from it, keep in mind that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Hebron’s House of Contention, from which 200 extremist settlers were evicted last week, was purchased fraudulently from its former Palestinian owners. For that reason, the Court overturned the sale and returned the building to its former owner:
In a country where the justice system is political, a media that [sic] makes no room for a flow of opinions, where half the nation finds no place in the media discourse, it should come as no surprise that the only communication tool left them is the rock.
The youth gathered at Beit Hashalom in Hebron have skipped school these past 2 weeks but the lesson they received from the government of Israel in civics was more than they could have ever received in the classroom. The conclusion of the lesson is that in a place where the government uses democracy to advance its own agendas, the only venue of protest left is that of violence.
We’ve got to parse this statement for its rich well-spring of anti-democratic thought. Note that the Israeli justice system, which in reality is by no means “political” or even particularly sympathetic to “left-wing” causes or political ideas, becomes a hostage to some sort of far left political cabal.
As for the media “lockdown” on coverage of the settler movement, please note that Libskind is publishing this piece in Israel’s largest-circulation daily, and one that is quite right of center; which is of course the reason they chose to publish it. Not to mention Libskind’s far-fetched claim that “half the nation” supports the settlers. A truer number might be 20%, if that.
What is especially striking is the tone of deep grievance the author adopts in discussing Israeli democracy. Instead of being a fair, balanced system in which differing political ideologies struggle for expression, Israeli democracy is some sort of crooked system. Essentially, “the fix is in.”
Laughably, Libskind calls the State of Israel, the “State of Tel Aviv,” as if this was the same as calling it Sodom and Gomorrah (Tel Aviv being known among settlers and the militant Orthodox as a den of vice and iniquity). With such a divide between religious and secular, right and left, settler and green-line Israeli, the question may be properly asked–can these two camps live together in the same State?
I say something once more that I’ve said many times here. These ideas are noxious, pernicious, and profoundly threatening to Israeli democracy. And I don’t mean this in some far-fetched, distant sense. I mean it literally. There are settler groups which call the state a fraud and call for its overthrow and replacement by a halachic theocratic (and ultimately authoritarian and even fascist) State. This is sedition. This is treason. This is John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. With the stark difference being that at least Brown wished to mobilize an uprising to free the slaves; while the settlers wish to, in effect, enslave the Palestinians and subject them to Jewish domination.
To me, these settlers are the equivalent of Samson, eager to bring down the pillars of the building in order to “take out” his Philistine enemies in one bold, daring act of total destruction. They are nihilists whose raging slogan seems to be “apres nous, le deluge.”
They must be condemned by every right-thinking Jew and Israeli. And they must be combated by our own federal government, which provides tax exempt status for groups like the Hebron Fund and the Central Fund for Israel, raising millions every year to support this budding threat to the Israeli state.