Yigal Amir, assassin of Yitzhak Rabin, may have company in his maximum-security cell. Haaretz reports that Israeli police have arrested a settler extremist who claims credit for murdering two Palestinians, the bombing that injured Prof. Zeev Sternhell, and the Tel Aviv spree that killed two at a gay community center a few months ago. All in all, his terror activity lasted 12 years!
A resident of the West Bank settlement outpost Shvut Rachel was arrested last month for suspected murder and for his alleged role in a string of attempted murder plots, according to details of an investigation revealed on Sunday after a gag order on the case was lifted.
Yaakov “Jack” Teitel, 37, is suspected of killing two Palestinians, for rigging the package bomb which left the child of a Messianic Jew seriously wounded, for attempting to kill left-wing professor Ze’ev Sternhell, and for his alleged role in a series of warning attacks against Israel Police at the time of the Gay Pride Parades.
…Teitel, a resident of the northern West Bank outpost, was born in Florida and has moved back and forth between the United States and Israel over the last two decades. In 2000, he returned to Israel to live permanently.
…Teitel has confessed to murdering a Palestinian shepherd near Mount Hebron in 1997 and to killing an Arab taxi driver in East Jerusalem some two months later. He said that he came to Israel precisely to carry out attacks against Palestinians as revenge for suicide bombings.
There are several astonishing and disturbing facts about this story. First, that Teitel ran rampant for so long without being apprehended. This indicates to me that either the police didn’t care to find him or couldn’t find him even if they did want to do so. What does it say about their alleged intelligence within the radical settler community? Haaretz’ Ami Issacharoff asks whether Teitel would have been caught at all if he’d only murdered Palestinians, and points to the rather astonishing revalation that he confessed to murdering two Palestinians 12 years ago and was not prosecuted.
Of course Issacharoff is right to suggest that Israeli-on-Palestinian crime is hardly treated seriously. But I would pose the issue even more provocatively. Israeli police also have little more motivation to investigate crimes against gays of Israeli Jewish peace activists. Teitel in his way was almost as prolific as the DC sniper. Can you imagine such a series of crimes in the U.S. that would remain unsolved as long as these were in Israel? The only way that police DID capture him was through the alleged killer’s own public boasting on the streets of Jerusalem in which he took credit for the Tel Aviv gay murders via flyers he hung from utility poles:
Teitel was arrested on October 7 in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, in Jerusalem, after posting signs around town praising the attack on the Tel Aviv gay club.
His posters were signed with the name ‘Shleisel,’ referring to the ultra-Orthodox man who stabbed and wounded a number of marchers during the Jerusalem pride parade a couple of years ago. Police also found posters in his neighbourhood offering a one million shekel reward to anyone killing a member of Israel’s Peace Now movement, that opposes West Bank settlement activity.
Imagine if Teitel hadn’t wanted to get caught and done such a stupid act leading to his capture. He likely could’ve continued on forever. What does this tell us about the settler community and its members who knew this individual, his ideas and possibly even his proclivity to violence and did nothing to stop him? There were those too who aided and abetted Yigal Amir in his terror.
The settlers are now claiming Teitel does not represent them. His lawyer is claiming he’s mentally unbalanced. Everyone who might be tarnished by a link to him will find a thousand reasons why they aren’t guilty and bear no responsibility. That’s the way of the world these days. No one’s responsible. Even the guilty aren’t guilty. And certainly the settler movement as a whole is least culpable of all.
Pro-Israel apologists like to point out that the Israeli left is traitorous or incites hatred and is just as bad as the right. Could someone point out to me anyone on the Israeli left who has killed a prime minister or bombed a Hebrew University professor? Someone who’s thrown a hand grenade at a rightist Israeli rally and killed a young Hebrew University student (Emil Grunzweig). Or who went on the rampage at a rightist institution and shot dead scores of Israeli rightists (Baruch Goldstein). No, the Israeli far right has murder and hatred in its heart not just for Palestinians, but for fellow Jews themselves.
It’s also no coincidence that Shvut Rachel, where Teitel lives, was also the home of another settler terrorist, Asher Weissgan, who killed five Palestinian workers in 2005. A close friend of Teitel’s in the settlement is Asher Richland, who was a close collaborator with Eden Natan-Zada, yet another settler serial-murderer.
And let’s keep in mind that Israel didn’t mold Teitel in his youth. The far-right ultra-Orthodox community in the U.S. did (Teitel grew up in Florida before making aliyah). If they were honest the American Jewish pro-settler movement would look itself in the mirror and say: “we have met the enemy and he is us.”
For months I have been advocating greater IRS and federal law enforcement agency oversight of the American pro-settler movement. It is a shande that it funnels tens of millions of tax-deductible dollars to buy guns and other equipment which these hooligan-murders use to kill those with whom they disagree. Teitel had a veritable arsenal at his disposal in his home. How did he acquire these weapons? From whom? Where did the funding come from?
But even if there is no direct link to the American Jewish far right, the federal government must concede that there is a culture of impunity run rampant not just in the Territories, but here in America itself. If you give these pro settler groups non-profit status you’re giving them a federal heksher for their abhorrent views.
H/t to Ori Nir for word on this story.