Israel, wake up and smell the coffee


Years of rioting against Palestinians, uprooting of trees, vandalism, arson, destruction, dispossession, theft, rocks and axes didn’t cause a ripple, but one rock to the head of a deputy brigade commander made all the difference.

By Gideon L


If I could, I’d send a modest bouquet of flowers as a gesture of thanks for the work of the rioters – the ones who infiltrated the Ephraim Brigade base in the West Bank last week. They achieved, at least for a moment, what others had failed to do: stir Israeli public opinion and maybe even the army and government against the West Bank settlers.

Good morning, Israel. You’ve woken up? Years of rioting against Palestinians, uprooting of trees, vandalism, arson, destruction, dispossession, theft, rocks and axes didn’t cause a ripple here. But one rock to the head of a deputy brigade commander, Lt. Col. Tzur Harpaz, made all the difference.

An all-out riot. Jewish terrorism. There are militias in the West Bank, settler-terrorists in a no-man’s-land. And all this due to a rock that drew a few drops of sacred Jewish blood.

Here they are again: arrogance and nationalist ideology. How is it possible that terrorism has arisen from the Chosen People? How could a few drops of blood from one person shock more than streams of other people’s blood? How did the rock that scratched Harpaz’s forehead reverberate immeasurably more than the teargas canister that ripped through the forehead of Palestinian Mustafa Tamimi, killed four days earlier by soldiers from the army Harpaz serves in?

No, the right wing’s hilltop youth haven’t endangered the State of Israel. They haven’t even distorted its image, as it’s now popular to proclaim. What do you want from them? They’ve been made accustomed to think that anything goes. Enough with the self-righteous clucking of tongues. Enough with the “condemnations” and expressions of bogus and belated shock. There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the settlers. It’s not a “new level” of activity, and it doesn’t involve the crossing of “red lines.” The only line that has been crossed, perhaps, is the line of apathy.

We’ve been reporting for years about the settlers’ misdeeds, week after week. We’ve recounted how they have threatened Palestinians, hit their children on their way to school, thrown garbage at their mothers, turned dogs on elderly Palestinians, abducted shepherds, stolen livestock, embittered their lives day and night, hill and vale, invading and taking over. And it never touched a soul.

Now all of a sudden there is shock. Good morning, Israel. Why? What happened? You can’t chastise those young people after years of not only apathy toward their parents’ misdeeds but also the warm embrace of most of society and sweeping support from the IDF and every Israeli government. You can’t speak about them as brother-pioneers, give them huge budget allocations, promise they’ll be allowed to remain where they are forever, view them as a legitimate, not to say principled, segment of society, and then suddenly turn your back on them, condemning and attacking them. And all due to a rock.

You can’t change the rules that way, one fine day. And the rules were set long ago: It’s their land, the land of the settlers; they’re the masters of it and can do anything there. Only a distorted double standard would permit a change in the rules due to a minor injury to the Israel Defense Forces. Only in the name of a distorted double standard could you be shocked about the recent acts, which were by no means the most serious or cruel.

Of course Israel has the right (and duty ) to change the rules, but such a change must be revolutionary and be carried out across the settlement enterprise, halting it entirely and changing the illegal, unethical and intolerable reality that exists in our backyard. The government isn’t interested in such a change. The IDF isn’t either, and it’s doubtful most Israelis want such a change. But anything less than that is hollow lip service, nothing more than a small wave on the hull of this decades-long enterprise.

Until that happens, let’s leave them alone. There’s no point evacuating a chicken coop at the Mitzpeh Yitzhar outpost while the settlement of Efrat is lapping at the edge of Bethlehem. There’s no point waging war against the “illegal” outposts while the “legal” settlement of Ofra has been built on stolen land. And there’s no point issuing restraining orders to keep out a clutch of rioters while it never occurs to Israel to issue similar orders against all their brethren.

The violent demonstrators at the Ephraim Brigade base are the opposite of anarchists, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called them. They just want to preserve the existing order, just as most Israelis, led by the prime minister, do. Flowers for the rioters? On second thought, they haven’t done a thing.

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