Saturday, December 19

Illegal Settler Arsonists and their Ilk

On Friday 10th Dec some right wing extremists associated with the settler movement went on the rampage. They decided that the best way to show their opposition to P.M.Netanyahu's so-called "settlement freeze" was by destroying a mosque in the town of Yasuf which is near Nablus.

This atrocious and despicable act of arson was condemned by most Israelis. There were even some attempts to reach a sulcha or peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the area. The head of the" peace team" was Rabbi Menachem Froman of the Tekoa settlement in the West Bank. The team even donated Qurans to the Palestinian community as a symbol of their sorrow for the settler, extremist vandalism. While the rabbi and his supporters' act was commendable, one cannot deny that the underlying cause for this arson lies in the deep rooted hate for Palestinians and for non-Jews in general. This hate stems from the education meted out to the children of settlers by right wing rabbis of the settler movement.

Only when the damage is done because of the warped and hateful religious ideology does one realize the danger of their so-called religious ideology. The damage to Israel by these religious right wing fanatics is comparable to the hate mongering of the racist Hamas imams on the Palestinian side!

Another great disappointment is the attitude of some religious Knesset members of the right wing religious parties. They take the ancient biblical "eye for an eye, tooth for tooth" rule as a justified retribution for vandalism committed by Islam extremists against synagogues and Jewish holy places in the past. This means that in the midst of our society lurks a hidden evil that believes that the Arabs and their holy places must be destroyed. Their representatives are part of the Netanyahu government!

A sign of maturity of any nation is tolerance towards those of differing faiths. This hate for the other serves no purpose and is destructive apart from being immoral. Israel's response to this vandalism committed in Yasuf is commendable but not strong enough. Had it been a synagogue that was vandalized a greater effort would have been made to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is doubtful if the vandals of the lunatic fringe within the settler movement will be brought to justice. No arrests have been made at the time of writing this article.

There is no justification for vandalism committed against any holy place whether Jewish, Moslem or Christian. Religious vandals of all faiths should be brought to justice.

Within the Israeli establishment lurks another tinder box of hate within the right wing religious Zionist Movement - the Yeshivot Hesder - (institutes of religious learning where religious soldiers combine military service with Torah study).

These institutions have a religious Zionist right wing ideology and are sympathetic to the settlers residing in the occupied territories. The religious soldiers attending are exposed to the narrow world view of right wing rabbis about the importance of greater Israel and the biblical justification of settling the entire Judea and Samaria (as they refer to the West Bank). The ideology of these religious institutions is right wing to extreme right wing. The latter even encourage their students to refuse to obey IDF orders concerned with evacuating settlements or ensuring settlement freezes.

It does not take much imagination to realize that the fanatic right wing rabbis in their enthusiasm to instill their nationalist Zionist ideas of settling the whole West Bank with Jews and using the Torah and quotations from it to justify the expulsion of the Palestinian population. They view themselves as the messengers of God who received the exclusive right to settle the whole West Bank. The moment they delegitimize the Palestinian population the next step would be violence against them.

Many graduates from these religious institutions - yeshvot hesder - are imbued with a fanatic right wing Zionist world view that is hostile to the Palestinian population who has been living in the West Bank for generations. They dehumanize the Palestinians and believe in transfer. Many of the settlers who are graduates of these institutions are involved in vandalism against Palestinians including uprooting their olive trees and general destruction to their property. It is annoying that the perpetrators of these acts are hardly ever caught let alone being brought to justice.

Israel fails to realize that the world condemns Israel for its colonialism and the illegal settlers living in the occupied territories are part of the occupation. The great mistake of the Six Day War of June 1967 is the encouragement of settlers to colonize the West Bank. It makes Israel’s claims of not wanting to rule another people as being false.

No comments: