Jack Teitel, the ‘flower’ of American Jewry, has received two life sentence from an Israeli court for his acts of terror against Palestinians, Christian missionaries, gays, Israeli leftists, and even the Israeli police. This is the final act in a drama that began nearly two decades ago ,when he made aliyah from his Florida home. Once in Israel, he gravitated to the settlements and became a loyal follower of the most violent of the Kahanist movement. His terror spree began in 1997 and continued till 2008.
Over the years, he was either charged and convicted of–or was suspected of involvement in: the murder of two Israeli policemen in the Jezreel Valley, the maiming (by a bomb) of the son of a Christian missionary, the Tel Aviv gay community center massacre (two dead teenagers), the wounding (via bomb) of Hebrew University Professor Zeev Sternhell, and the murders of two Palestinians.
For his deeds, he received two life sentences, for which he will serve a minimum of 3o years. He will also have to pay his victims $250,000. As there are so many victims and the fine so low, there must be a special discount for those Palestinian lives.
That this final act has taken years is a testament to the long, winding road of Israeli justice, which is often denied when it comes to acts of violence by Jews against Palestinians. It is safe to say, and I am confident in doing so, that had Teitel been smart enough to confine his murderous impulses to Palestinians he might still be free to kill again. But Teitel’s hatreds were broad and sweeping. In this he resembles a American white supremacist, more than traditional settler thugs who limit their overt acts of physical violence to Palestinians. Teitel hated missionaries and gays almost as much as Palestinians. Also unlike his settler counterparts, he was willing not just to hate Israeli leftists, but to attempt to kill them. Teitel was also more brazen in that he plastered some Jerusalem neighborhoods with flyers advertising his hatred and offering a reward for anyone who killed Israeli leftists.
In some senses, Teitel was the proverbial criminal crying out to be caught. Like fellow terrorist Yigal Amir, Teitel saw his trial and his prison sentence as a further opportunity to proselytize for hate and violence. In the past few days, he’s announced that God Himself was pleased with his actions. Note in the accompanying picture, he’s wearing a tallit, appropriating sacred Jewish garments to annoint himself a Jewish fighter.
During many years of legal proceedings, his defense attempted a trick often used successfully by Jewish terrorists. His attorneys argued he was insane and therefore not responsible for his acts. This would land him not in prison, where he belonged, but in a mental facility, where his conditions of incarceration would be much more lenient. It didn’t work this time.
Teitel disputed the court’s right to judge him and called it a “whorehouse.”
There are many things that are evil about Jack Teitel and the rabid settler movement that supports him. But the one that is first and foremost, is their effort (which is shared by radical Islamists) to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious war. As I’ve often written here, this is a development devoutly to be wished for by all those who thirst for a final bloody battle in which their side wins a triumphant victory.
Turning the conflict into a crusade or jihad renders it unsolvable. It destroys the ability to rationally address the issues and resolve them. When two religions fight, then God Himself is summoned on behalf of combatants. Once you appeal to the Transcendent, you take the conflict out of the hands of human beings and the battle is to the death.
That’s why the Israeli-Palestinian must be political. It must be (and IS) a fight for power, land, and resources. It is a fight that two peoples of goodwill and with leaders of vision and foresight can settle. We are not there yet. But sometime in the future, we must get there.
This cannot be turned into a fight between God and Allah, or between Judaism and Islam. If that happens, then we are all doomed.
Another of the evils Jack Teitel and his ilk has bestowed upon Israel is the violent hatred of Arabs, blacks and gays that many American Jews bring when they make aliyah. There is a certain strain of American Jews that is drawn to Israel not for reasons that drew previous generations. These settler Jews are not drawn by the vision of social justice and the strains of the Biblical prophets. They are drawn by the racialist vision of Meir Kahane, which defines Israel as a state by and for Jews. These American Jewish olim see Israel not as a democracy, but as a state that must exclude the riff-raff, the aliens, the impure, the non-Jews. If we American Jews have given any ‘gift’ to Israel, I’m afraid it is this: the most violent, most hateful adherents of settler Judaism.
For this, as an American Jew, I am profoundly sad and I profoundly apologize to every Israeli who reads this. Unlike Emma Lazarus, in whose poem, “Colossus,” Lady Liberty urged that Europe send us “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” America has sent to Israel our killers, our haters, our angry youth yearning to put a bullet in an Arab.
Ashamnu, Bagadnu (“We have sinned, we have betrayed”).