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Monday, February 06, 2006

Law & Order

[OK, I'll admit that being a bit of a TV Law & Order junkie I couldn't resist using that title.]

I have to add a few important things to what I wrote yesterday... partly because many people don't have the patience to pick through the comments where I've already said them, and partly because a few people took exactly the wrong message from my post.

First of all I have seen several people taking my friend Imshin to task for statements she made on her site.  You may be surprised to hear this, but I am 99.9% with Imshin when it comes to anyone making sweeping derogatory remarks about the entire police force.  No society can function without these overworked, underpaid public servants... and in a society as complicated and politicized as ours, their job is 20 times as hard to carry out.

That said, I think it is important to examine the many accusations leveled at the government and at very specific units within the police department within the very narrow scope of the events at Amona.

The role of the police is to uphold and enforce the law.  They have very clear limits on what they may and may not do in order to carry out this essential role... and in a free society the 'bad guys' almost always have a wider range of options than do the police who want to stop them.

However, what I am hearing over and over again from left-leaning bloggers and commenters are the following troubling misconceptions about the role of the government and police in these events:

1.  "It was an illegal settlement, so whatever the police had to do to dismantle it was justified".

No, this is incorrect.  Speeding is also illegal and probably puts many more people at risk than those 9 buildings in Amona.  But a policeman may not pull me out of my car and club me into submission simply because I am acting recklessly outside the law. [Note:  this should not be taken as an admission that I, um, speed.]

2.  "The settlers were planning to act violently so the police/Ashamnikim came prepared for a fight."

This is a matter for an independent commission of inquiry... something the settlers are demanding and the government authorities have thus far refused to even consider.  Given the tremendous amount of still and video coverage of the event, eye-witness testimony from both the police and demonstrators as well as medical reports on those who were admitted to hospitals after the clash... it seems odd that the authorities would shy away from having an independent investigative commission bring forth findings that would support this second quote and put to rest claims of illegal/excessive use of force.

3.  "Considering how violent the settlers were in Kfar Darom this past summer you can't blame the police for taking off the kid gloves."

Yes I can.  First of all, the events of Kfar Darom represent the exception to what everyone would agree was an otherwise extremely peaceful disengagement.  Several of the more inflammatory claims (acid, caustic soda, guns, knives, etc.) made at the time have since been completely discredited, but that doesn't set aside the fact that there was indeed violence directed against government appointed representatives. 

However, 'kid gloves' is exactly what the police must use whenever dealing with citizens.  Their role is to enforce the law, not mete out punishment.  This simple point is lost on far too many people who view religious settlers as deserving whatever they got because of real or imagined past bad deeds.  The police are not empowered to punish a perpetrator of a crime, and they are not allowed an institutional memory of past offenses.  They must know the law and abide by it. 

4.  "The injuries were evenly distributed between demonstrators and police"

Again, an independent inquiry would clear up this myth once and for all.  I grieve for ANY injury sustained in Amona... especially those sustained by the police.  I say this because, regardless of what I may say about their actions while they were there, the police had no choice about showing up for this demonstration... whereas the settlers made an informed decision to put themselves at risk.  Civil disobedience always presents a risk to those who practice it.

However, the hospital records do not bear out anything close to an even split in the injured parties.  This is partially attributable to the fact that the police were wearing protective gear while the demonstrators were not.  But it is also a pretty clear indication of who was doing most of the attacking and who was mostly on the defensive. 

There are several reliable reports of police being given orders to aim for the heads of demonstrators with their batons.  This is born out by the footage of police swinging almost exclusively for the demonstrator's heads.  This is contrary to every known military and police doctrine in the use of batons.  An independent board of inquiry would establish once and for all what orders were given, whether the orders were legal and/or whether the police exceeded the limits of force allowed by law. 

5.  "Amona was an illegal outpost... Complaining that the police removed it and not illegal Arab houses is like the burglar caught red-handed who complains because the police arrested him and not the guy breaking into the house next door."

No, bad analogy.  It is more like the government and police having full knowledge of all law-breakers (speeders, burglars, tax cheats, etc.) in a particular town, yet allowing an institutionally sanctioned policy of only apprehending the Jewish ones.  The law is supposed to be blind of all racial, religious, gender and political considerations.  If the law can't (or won't) be applied equally across the entire population which is subject to it then it can not legally or morally be applied at all. 

The reason so many people keep coming back to the fact that illegal Jewish construction and agricultural development is singled out for prosecution while illegal Arab construction and agricultural development is allowed to continue unhindered is because it offers compelling proof that the government is applying the law unequally.  This is a problem in a democracy.

6.  "Why was the government required to negotiate and/or compromise with the settlers when they [the settlers] were so clearly starting from an illegal position?"

An excellent question that has not gotten nearly enough attention.  The simple answer is the government has a responsibility to use restraint with it's citizens, even when those citizens are acting outside the boundaries of the law.  Do we shoot kidnappers on sight or do we negotiate with them to try and bring a hostage crisis to a peaceful resolution?  Do we shoot a fleeing suspect in the back or do we require the police to chase them down and handcuff them?  I could go on but you get my point. 

Nobody disputes the illegality of the settlement of Amona (although it is in a much more benign class of 'crime' than either of the examples above).  Even if it had legally 'gray' status at its inception (which is a tough argument to make), the moment the government declared Amona illegal and a closed military zone, its status became 'illegal'... black & white... end of story. 

But you also had the settler leadership who were authorized to speak for ALL the people at Amona saying to the government "OK, you win... over the past few weeks we have exhausted all our legal channels and the supreme court has now ruled against us. We will give up this site... this land... and ensure the peaceful dispersal of all the residents.  But please allow us one week to take these 9 buildings with us to the nearby legal community of Ofra.  This way you get what you want... and most important we can both exit with dignity and without the need for any confrontation."   

Was the government required to negotiate with the settlers?  No.  But were they required to use restraint in dealing with their citizens?  Yes.  However, instead of showing restraint and seizing the opportunity to bring the stand-off to a peaceful and legally satisfactory conclusion, the government inexplicably chose to send in mounted police combat troops in full battle gear with orders to inflict maximum injury on Israeli citizens.  So why did the government pursue this dangerous course of action?  I offered my theory in yesterday's post. 

Civil disobedience is an extremely effective tool precisely because it frustrates police in their efforts.  A large group of well organized people sitting or standing with linked arms presents a daunting manpower problem for the police and requires a tremendous investment of time, manpower and energy to overcome.  It is precisely because civil disobedience is so effective that many governments eventually prefer to negotiate with peaceful demonstrators rather than tie up all their police and/or military manpower in physically carrying them away.  But by law, police or government frustration with this tactic does not allow an escalation to violence and/or extra-judicial retribution.  That is illegal on a level far above civil disobedience.  As an aside, the civil rights movement in America, and the independent nation of India are two examples of how effective 'illegal' non-violent civil disobedience can be... even when met with 'legal' police and/or military violence.

Emotions are running very high in the aftermath of Amona with two very different views emerging of the events.  The only reasonable way to set aside speculation and quell the rumors is for an independent investigative body to be empowered to investigate what happened from start to finish on BOTH SIDES of the conflict.  This means requiring the government to explain its decision to turn down a peaceful resolution and pursue a potentially dangerous / violent confrontation.  This also means requiring the settler leadership to account for every documented/recorded act of offensive violence against the government forces... and any that do not meet the minimum threshold for self-defense must be identified and charged.

If such an investigation ever comes to pass, I think that it would have two important results:

a)  It would reestablish public confidence in the police and security forces by providing public proof that their actions are subject to impartial scrutiny and that both the government and it's agents are as bound by the law as the citizenry.

b)  It would reassure both the public and government that future acts of civil disobedience will in fact be non-violent by allowing the settler leadership to demonstrate its willingness to identify and root out violent actors and provocateurs in their midst.

Or, as I like to point out, I could be completly full of sh*t.

219_28

Posted by David Bogner on February 6, 2006 | Permalink

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Hi,

I read your site almost everyday, and generally it is true that you are moderate and interesting. However, these past two posts were fairly bothersome, if not annoying. I really enjoy your thoughtful and witty posts, but these past two posts seem more like a spoiled child complaining to his mom about how mean his teacher is.

They are far from moderate, and they are far from thought provoking.

I understand that this is YOUR outlet, and this is a blog about your life and opinions, but come on. These posts seem strictly reactionary.

I find it incredibly boring to read the long rants on blogs about how oppressed the Palestinians are, but on the same note, I find it equally annoying to read about how the poor settlers aren't being included and treated fairly.

Please, if you respond to this comment, please don't pick on every syntactical error you perceive me as making. Winning on terms and political correctness is not winning the issue.

Posted by: Seth | Feb 6, 2006 3:39:17 PM

Seth... Sorry buddy, I can't sh*t diamonds every single try. I am reactionary... I am boring... I am interesting... I am moderate. I'm all the things that you enjoy and dislike...just not all at the same time. You seem to have caught me on a couple of bad days. Come back some other time and I'll try to scale back the bothersome and annoying quotient.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 3:50:41 PM

This is exactly the post I would write... if I could calm down enough to get over my outrage at what is going on...

Thanks very much for laying it all out so clearly.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 6, 2006 4:28:27 PM

May I just point out that many of those who are now clamoring that Israel is a nation of laws have no problem with
1) Yossi Beilin's meetings with the PLO before the law was changed and
2) the members of "Courage to Refuse" who besmirched the name of Israel internationally in an effort to assuage their consciences.

Posted by: soccerdad | Feb 6, 2006 4:50:48 PM

You sound more like you today. No law-abiding citizen could have a gripe with what you are asking for in this post. Following the Rodney King affair, a charge of police brutality in the U.S. is taken very seriously, and I would expect nothing less in Israel. Is there no legal route that can be taken by the injured settlers to force an investigation? Will the Supreme Court not hear a case?

Having said all this, again I wonder to what extent the settler movement places the Land above the People. Like it or not, settlers represent a minority in a democracy, and while the civil rights of a minority certainly need to be upheld, they have little chance of achieving their goals and will continue to be frustrated. Your post yesterday made it sound like it was going to be a long, probably bloody battle unless the settlers get what they want. What's the middle ground here?

Posted by: wanderer | Feb 6, 2006 6:30:09 PM

Excellent followup from yesterday ...

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 6, 2006 6:50:50 PM

I don’t have much in the way of comments, just questions from an uninformed outsider. (For better or for worse, this has received zero media attention in the U.S.)

Is Likud / Netanyahu saying / doing anything that suggests sympathy to the settler position? I guess what I’m asking is politically is there anywhere for modern Orthodox settlers to go? I assume that they don’t typically vote for the Haredi* parties, right? Is there any substantive difference on issues between Labor and Kadima?

I look forward to a time when the “situation” in Israel is so dull that your thoughts and posts return to interpreting the pattern you make on the inside of your windshield when you sneeze…

* Haredi, for the readers who need a translation is typically translated to English as “ultra Orthodox”, a term that I’m ambivalent about, since the “ultra” basically serves to marginalize them, though I feel they frequently marginalize themselves.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 6, 2006 7:17:07 PM

Thank you Treppenwitz for another excellent post. Look for my link.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 6, 2006 7:44:32 PM

One troublesome aspect of the government refusing an independent scrutiny is a possibly dangerous precedent for the future incidents. I am wondering whether there are any independent non-governmental organizations in Israel which could subject the government to the kind of scrutiny media is supposed to be, but is NOT, playing.?

Posted by: Irina | Feb 6, 2006 7:50:18 PM

I've heard it said the definition of crazy is doing the same ineffectual or irrational thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I was sucked in by the Left in my teens and part of my twenties over the Viet Nam years. Deep. I was influenced to hate my country and western civilization. It took me about five years to see their evil lies and another ten to get that poison out of my mind.

You cannot reason with the Left. What you saw at Amona was the Left coming OUT in Israel. If left unchecked they will quickly regress to the practices of Stalin. Because that is who and what they are!

YOU talk to them. I fight them. You may nudge some of your moderate fellow countrymen to resist the Left and that's nice but untill you truly see them for what they are they will continue to dig the ground from beneath your feet with their wholly disingenuous practices.

I think the character of the Left is why they bow to the islamofazcists. They are actually soul brothers.

I have to understand why you try and try again to use reason and persuasion where staunch resistence would be more useful however. You are resident on a small island with what you think are fellow Jews. You just cannot bring yourself to see so many of them as the enemy they are. I'm sorry.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 6, 2006 9:33:36 PM

As to law and order: What is law in the hands of despots? The Israeli Supreme Court is an oligarchy controlled by one man. Since you have no constitution the 'law' is whatever the heavy handed politician says it is. When a nation has a special police force that has no loyalty to anything but those that sign their paychecks and will club children gleefully .... there is no law.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 6, 2006 9:38:46 PM

I've been limiting my comments because of the lack of information from independant sources. While the online videos are upsetting (and I have no question that some police used excessive force - the Left has actually complained for years about this) the videos show only a fraction of the time of the demonstration and therefore provide little context. That said, I don't like to see excessive force or violence used by anyone against anyone else and it is very sad when it is considered an acceptable means to an end.

I do have one quibble about the above post, partly because Zahava once reminded me that something I had written could be misinterpreted by someone with less knowledge of the area and situation (she was quite right of course).
You stated:
"The reason so many people keep coming back to the fact that illegal Jewish construction and agricultural development is singled out for prosecution while illegal Arab construction and agricultural development is allowed to continue unhindered is because it offers compelling proof that the government is applying the law unequally. This is a problem in a democracy."
Someone unfamiliar with the area might think that Arab houses are NEVER demolished when in fact thousands of houses have been demolished over the past few years, some because of lack of permits and some due to "military reasons" - usually proximity to a settlement, road or the wall. Thousands of others are under threat of demolition and their cases are wending their way through the courts. Also - the area isn't a democracy because the vast majority of residents (of the age of majority) have no vote.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 6, 2006 9:55:46 PM

the truth is that Israel is tired of the Arabs causing them problems. So when the settlers start behaving like the Arabs (demanding more than what they deserve, claiming that Israel is mistreating them, etc) the Israeli public just gets fed up. Except that it is ten times more annoying than when the Arabs do it because the settlers are fellow citizens.

This strategy of pretending to be the undervalued under dog while simultaneously living virtually tax free in Israel is not a good way of getting the Israeli public to side with you. Try acting like the responsible, patriotic Zionists who care about the greater good of the state of Israel rather than the selfish settler focusing on these small losses and claiming foul play at every chance.

Posted by: Seth | Feb 6, 2006 9:56:32 PM

I am wondering whether there are any independent non-governmental organizations in Israel which could subject the government to the kind of scrutiny media is supposed to be, but is NOT, playing.?

Actually, B'Tzelem, a human rights group in Israel, has called for an inquiry into the police violence. And Lisoosh is right; excessive police brutality has been a cry from the left for years.

Posted by: anony | Feb 6, 2006 10:12:00 PM

Doctor Bean -

The only difference between the platforms of Labor, Likud, and Kadima is how much smaller to make Israel; i.e., how many Jewish communities to bulldoze. There is no ideological difference.

Treppenwitz -

Excellent posts. I think an additional point in terms of the legality is: there is frustration among nationalists that Jewish building in Jewish land is illegal at all, and I imagine there will always be resistance to complying with such laws. It's not really different from the "illegal" aliyah of Aliyah Bet. I believe that the act of "illegally" settling hilltops in Yesha is within the spirit of the Aliyah Bet, and will continue as much as people are able.

Posted by: Ben | Feb 6, 2006 10:40:35 PM

Ben-David... Me too, only it is the post that helped calm me down.

SoccerDad... I've noticed that despite several commenter's claims that police brutality has been a pet issue of the left, not many of the lefties are out waving that particular flag just now. Interesting how it isn't really brutality when you think the person being beaten deserves it.

Wanderer... I don't think that is a choice that has to be made. People keep telling me that the settlers are bringing the trouble on themselves by opposing the will of the majority of the Israeli people. But that is not a reason to stop protesting injustice or lack of due process. The battle only needs to be bloody if brutality like what we saw in Amona becomes the normal way of dealing with peaceful protest.

Seattle... Thank you.

Doctor Bean... Natanyahu has actually been MIA for the past couple of days (at least from the news cycle). I don't know yet whether that is an astute move or cowardice. I'll let you know.

Westbankmama... Thank you. Just don't bet too much of the family farm on my political analysis. My retractions are legendary. :-)

Irina... There can be no bad or dangerous precedent to government transparency and oversight... only the lack thereof.

Scott... Are you suggesting we take on the left with conventional weapons or just slap them around when they get all uppity? Just curious.

Lisoosh... You and I have danced to this number once or twice and I have nothing new to add. We disagree on the basic legal status of both the land and those who are building here.

Seth... Good thing I have people like you around to tell me what I deserve... but I must say I find it telling that you place settlers outside your working definition of 'the Israeli public'. Your disdain for settlers is crystal clear for all to see, and quite frankly I am not surprised to hear you say that all of our losses are small. Also, I don't know where you're getting your information, but I am not leaving anywhere near tax free. I pay income tax, property tax, luxury taxes, car tax, TV tax and G-d only knows how many other taxes. Roughly half of every shekel I earn goes to taxes. If settlers could live tax free everyone in Tel Aviv would be moving out here! You are of an age where your possessions are few, your responsibilities are nil, and your self-delusion of knowing what's best for everyone in the world is the only thing bigger than your ego. Wait until you have a house, a family, a community that you love and a life. Then let someone try to take all that away from you and turn your life upside down. Then come tell me how small the loss is.

Anony... The left is sure being kinda quiet right now for a group that is supposed to be outraged by police brutality.

Ben... I am hesitant to equate settling hilltops in 2006 with smuggling Jews into mandatory Palestine in the mid 40s. Even if one can argue that settlements were given a wink and a nod even as recently as two or three years ago... that is no longer the case. At some point the settler movement is going to be asked to prioritize and make some painful choices. I would rather the decision be ours. The sooner we start thinking about this the less painful it will be. If we learned nothing else from Gaza it should be that we need to learn to pick our battles and figure out which ones can't be won.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 10:44:26 PM

That's exactly what I meant... That the LACK of such oversight might set a bad example in the future. Anonymous mentions a human rights organizations which called on the governmet to investigate what happened... how much real influence do such organizations have?

Posted by: Irina | Feb 6, 2006 10:50:36 PM

Irina... Influence is only part of the issue. The organization anony mentions is respected in many circles, but it has no legal standing to issue a report and have it's findings be binding on any of the parties involved. The government will have to create or appoint an independent body... something akin to an independent counsel in the US... and turn them loose.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 10:56:33 PM

What to do about the Left:

First: Drive ALL the terrorists out of Israel from the Mediterranian Sea to the Jordan. If some peaceful Arabs want to be Israelis .... fine.

Second: Expose the Left for the lying fascist they are in every way possible. Not violently but intellectually. Yes they ARE fascists. At the heart of their philosopy is a 'command and control' political ideology run by an intellectual elete. Them. A police state will be necessary for them to rule. Thus they are fascists. Expose them.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 6, 2006 11:07:05 PM

Scott... OK, I see I probably should have been more clear about the rhetorical nature of my question. But thanks for that. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 11:11:47 PM

Scott,

Blanket statements about the left are problematic because they rely on stereotypes to support them. The same is true about blanket statements about the right.

The rhetoric that keeps coming about both sides is part of what really bothers me. I blogged about it last night because I can't stomach much more of the fingerpointing and name calling.

If everyone insists on being right we all lose.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 6, 2006 11:25:11 PM

David - I wasn't commenting on the legal status, just the statistics.

While you are correct that there are few on the left complaining about the use of force in this instance - and yes this is pure hypocracy, Btselem IS calling for an inquiry and it is in fact a left wing organization. And to be fair, whenever left wing Israeli activists (and I'm not an activist) have been beaten during peaceful protests - and it has happened - can you mention me ONE incidence of a right wing group standing up to defend their right of free speech or to denounce their treatment?

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 6, 2006 11:42:10 PM

Dr. Bean, it made the cover of Chicago Tribune last week.

Posted by: Selkie | Feb 6, 2006 11:49:02 PM

"You are of an age where your possessions are few, your responsibilities are nil, and your self-delusion of knowing what's best for everyone in the world is the only thing bigger than your ego. "

Absolutely biting David, but fantastic nevertheless.

Posted by: js | Feb 7, 2006 1:54:56 AM

Selkie: Oh.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 7, 2006 2:19:05 AM

Jack,

OK, all y'all go on talking. See where it gets you.

Good people the world over ever make this same suicidal mistake. They refuse to see a mortal threat for what it is. A perfect analogy to the Left vs Right is the way the West insists on seeing Islam as a world religion. Like other world religions. It is not. Just because a few billion illiterates ( 1200 years) have been duped does not make Islam a legitmate religion. ( Yes they ARE illiterate as they don't study anything but Islam. Certainly not the critics of Islam) It's a totalitarian political movement. That's ALL it is. A political movement with world domination as it's central tenent and murder and slavery as it's primary methodology.

Well the Left is just like that. Stalin is their prophet and this is just a plain irrefutable fact. They practice various and sundry dissimulations to hide their true identies but dig deep enough and you will find their true faces. (insert here the mental images of the bloody faces of children at Amona and armoured horsemen with clubs)

Now it is true that many of David's and your friends on the Israeli Left or what they like to call the center left (an obfuscation) are not real leftists. They are what the true Left would call usefull idiots. To be dispensed with whenever real power is gained.

I state the plain truth and you see it as name calling. You speak of dialogue and I see appeasment and Chambelainesque duplicity.

Wisdom does not spring from the idle philosophy of men. It comes from the Word of God. Not the Talmud. The Word. See what it says about how to deal with those who lay thier babes on the glowing hot arms of idols. Those who think the Judges and Kings up thru Solomon were barbarians for practicing genocide and that the Word of the Torah is not to be taken literally are part of the problem in Israel. They will take Israel down to Sheol.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2006 2:43:54 AM

Sorry my ego is infinging on yours. I was just basing my knowledge on settler tax cuts and subsidies on this article I read in Haaretz.

"Culture shock is the main difficulty with completing the disengagement. It is the shock of people who had been accustomed for decades to live at the expense of the public and now have to acclimatize to life in a normal country, where people live at their own expense and learns to manage alone."

Here is the article:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ArticleContent.jhtml?itemNo=654026

Posted by: Seth | Feb 7, 2006 3:10:24 AM

I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. B. Great minds do think alike...or maybe us "crazy" people do! ;)

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 7, 2006 4:08:16 AM

I'm AKA The Atheist Jew: Two more things I found out today. There were around 22 arrests. And the settlers received no compensation, and if they had mortgages they were still obligated to pay them off.
This gives the settlers a real motive for not wanting to leave other than the love for the land.

The articles leading up to this event spelled everything out pretty much.

And even Netanyahu didn't try to stop it.

Posted by: Bacon Eating Atheist Jew | Feb 7, 2006 4:35:30 AM

My point about Aliyah Bet was that ever since the 1800s when there were just a few small Jewish communities in Israel, the goal has always been to get as many Jews into as much of the land as possible, legally or otherwise, in order to claim the land for ourselves. That was the goal both before and after 1948. I don't know when it stopped being the goal of the government, but my bet is that most dattim leumi were not in on the decision.

At this point, there are only two goals: give up on whatever we haven't grabbed yet, or make a bigger push than ever to keep on grabbing. Putting a caravan on a hilltop is not going to change anything. But I'm not sure giving up is the most sensible thing.

I was recently in Yad Vashem, and I saw the map showing that prior to the Holocaust, 26% of the population of Palestine was Jewish. It's a good thing that in 1939, we didn't decide to recognize the infeasability of Jews living among an Arab majority and pull out.

Posted by: Ben | Feb 7, 2006 6:45:31 AM

Scott,

Sorry pal, that hound don't hunt. Making broad sweeping statements is far too simplistic a move and creates more issues than it solves.

You say that all I am doing talking but I don't see you producing anything to support your allegations.

Good people the world over ever make this same suicidal mistake. They refuse to see a mortal threat for what it is.

Ok, what is the threat. I want to protect my family and loved ones just as I am sure that you do. But you don't provide any substance. What is the threat?
Just because a few billion illiterates ( 1200 years) have been duped does not make Islam a legitmate religion.
What constitutes a legitimate religion? Does it need Crusades? Should there be an Inquisition. Must it murder thousands of people in the name of G-d? Because if you want to play that game I can point the finger in a variety of directions.

What constitutes legitimacy?
It's a totalitarian political movement. That's ALL it is. A political movement with world domination as it's central tenent and murder and slavery as it's primary methodology.

I am no fan of radical Islam, but I don't see it doing anything that other religions have not already done. Doesn't mean that I agree with it or accept it. But without support I can't blindly accept your position either.

Well the Left is just like that. Stalin is their prophet and this is just a plain irrefutable fact.
Scott, if that is such an easy fact to prove why not provide proof. Why not offer support. It would be so much easier to find supporters.
I state the plain truth and you see it as name calling. You speak of dialogue and I see appeasment and Chambelainesque duplicity.
Scott,

I am not picking on you, but again all I see is rhetoric that is devoid of substance. I don't know how you take my statement about the fallacy involved in making broad sweeping statements to the Munich Pact.

I am well familiar with Neville Chamberlain and his actions and have often cited his mistakes, but there is a context for it.

Where is yours?
Wisdom does not spring from the idle philosophy of men. It comes from the Word of God.

I rather suspect that this is an area that you and I differ on. I can tell you what I believe the Word of G-d to be and so can Bin Laden and company.

Want to argue about who is right.

Ultimately my point is this. I think that radical Islam is a threat. I think that given the current situation in Israel (tying this to the post) that there is a battle for the soul of Israel.

This is not a new battle. It is one that has been a long time coming and it relates to what the character of the state will be and has great import for the future.

The gov't and settlers have to come to a place in which there is an agreement about the future of Israel and I expect it to be painful for both sides.

The rhetoric that is being espoused by some in which settlers and MKs are demonized is not healthy and that is a problem.

And given the Iranian issue and the rise of Hamas I am concerned about a divided house ignoring a pressing problem.

Anyway, I didn't mean to create my own post on David's blog so I'll end this here.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 7, 2006 8:35:46 AM

Jack,

You want me to write a book. I think history is plainly read. It's all there. It's easy to interpret. I'm sorry if it's all too complex for you and it might be this and it might be that and moral equivalence moral equivalence moral equivalence.

You are swimming in warm jello. I'd tire of that very quickly. Code words and phrases slough off you like water off a ducks back.

What's the threat? Uh, police goons beating children at the behest of government? Escalation? Good people doing nothing?

Legitimate religion? Oh .... one that says live and let live and isn't a political movement in disguise?

Crusades? Jack. This is 2006. Don't pull that muslim sh*t.

Proof the Left is Stalinist: A guy named George Orwell wrote some really good books. You should read them.

Osama has something to say about the Word of God. Moral equivalence again. It's actually sickening Jack.

People who talk like you remind me of the Vichy French. They had really sound Nietzsche and Voltairesque reasoning about the Natzis. What the heck. If ya can't beat em ....

It is time for GOOD men to get off the fence and do the right thing.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2006 9:34:36 AM

Scott,

I am not asking you to write a book, just to provide fact and not your opinion.

It is really easy to try and disregard this by trying to marginalize my comments with pithy remarks.

That is as useful as my pointing out the consistent spelling mistakes in your posts.

It doesn't really add to the dialogue. But I gather that you think that talk is cheap so let me cut to the chase.

This is a case of put up or shut up. If it is so easy to provide proof then do so. If the facts are there, show me.

If we were playing poker you'd be cleaned out. Show me the money and stop spewing out simple platitudes.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 7, 2006 9:52:10 AM

Actually Jack I don't think you are a moderate at all. I think you are a leftist. I can smell it. I could prove my points to you fifty different ways and you'd argue till hell froze over.

You are deeply into moral equivalence and it is plain in what you wrote. That alone to me delegitimatizes your philosophy and arguements. It is an evil attitude.

I don't have to prove Olmert is a pig. He beats children with large clubs and tramples them with horses for political gain. Then he covers it up by instructing the police to lie and refuses an investigation. In America he would be impeached and jailed for capital crimes.

I don't have to prove anything about the Left. I have Stalin, Mao, Hussein, Pol Pot, and Olmert.

I don't have to prove anything about Islam. Look at the news. Every day. Around the globe they prove themselves monsters. What you call Islamists are simply good Muslims. They like to hide amoungst the apostate Muslims who don't say a word when their brothers murder babies.

You are a typical modern western man Jack. Void of religious conviction. Morally equivocating. Unwilling to learn the lessons of history. Men like you could never have founded the state of Israel. It would have been a sensitive nineties kind of guy failure.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2006 10:13:31 AM

Lisoosh... I don't know what incidents you are referring to so I can't very well look into whether there were outcries from the right. My point is (and always has been) that the left claims for itself the moral high ground when it comes to civil rights and such... just as the religious right is held by all to a higher standard when it comes to personal behavior. So the sudden (relative) silence from the left over police abuses indicates to me that some people are perceived by them as undeserving of protection under the law.

js... That came out far harsher than I had intended, but I have little patience these days with some carefree student spending his year in Israel on daddy's dime, who feels he has the right to lecture me about how I'm not paying my fair share of taxes and how I'm not a contributing member of Israeli society.

Seth... Once again you seem content to offer shoddy scholarship and a shaky understanding of the world around you. First of all, your first mistake was relying on Haaretz as your source of hard facts about the settlers. Also, the Haaretz link you provided was to an opinion piece, not a factual news article. As you yourself must by now have noticed from your quote, the setters were given "tax cuts and subsidies", something the government also offers for development towns or anywhere else they want to encourage people to live. Did you follow that? These tax credits and subsidies were/are the governments way of saying "WE WANT YOU TO GO LIVE THERE SO WE WILL MAKE IT FINANCIALLY EASIER FOR YOU TO DO SO!". Once you actually get to the point in life where taxes are more than a line item on your Abercrombie & Fitch reciept, you'll realize that 'tax cuts and subsidies' are a far cry from living 'tax free'. Your deliberate misuse/misrepresentation of already sketchy information is the best proof yet that you have an ax to grind with the settlers and will grasp at, and embellish, any morsel of slander in order to make your case. This sort of crap may get you a passing grade in that cake-walk one year vacation at Hebrew U... but it won't wash in the real world. Get your facts from a reliable source... check them for context and veracity... and then venture back out into the world of grown-ups. That way you'll look less foolish and annoy fewer people.

tnspr569... If this post makes me crazy then there are some raving lunatics out there in the blogosphere. :-)

Athiest Jew... hmmm, 22 arrests out of a crowd of hundreds who were all admitedly acting illegally. Does that sound to you like the police arrived perepared to make arrests? It sounds to me like a token effort to create a cover story for a brutal assault. As to the mortgages, please spare me the 'if' 'if' 'if'. "...if they had mortgages they were still obligated to pay them off. This gives the settlers a real motive for not wanting to leave other than the love for the land." You do understand what a strawman is, don't you? You have provided no evidence that the settlers had mortgages or any financial debt associated with Amona... you've simply made a bone-headed guess using the word 'IF' as a qualifier. Then you go and make an accusation of less-than altruistic ulterior motives on the part of the settlers entirely based on this bone-headed guess. You are turning out to be even a bigger horses-ass than I had initially surmised. I have no problem with anyone who takes a position based on gut instinct, personal prejudice or just a hunch... G-d knows more than a bit of my worldview is based on such unscientific foundations. But you wont catch me trying to pass off my hunches, feelings and prejudices as facts and scholarship! Please go away. You have a perfectly good blog on which to smear your crap... please don't clutter up mine.

Ben... You make some good points, but you inadvertantly helped clarify something that I feel is perhaps the biggest flaw in the outlook of the settler movement. It has steadfastly refused to adapt to the changing political realities in the region. The Arabs and left made the transition from street theater to courtroom theater over a decade ago and have been very successful in advancing their agenda using the legal system instead of the court of public opinion. The settler movement is still out holding demonstrations that nobody on the left even notices, and they have yet to retain even a rudimentary legal team. Thank you for nudging me to this realization.

Scott and Jack... I think your exchange would best be taken offline at this point since it doesn't appear it is going to shed any new light on this issue. There is that awkward point between trying to verbally convince someone of your point and pointing a gun at him to force him to capitulate, where no movement is going to take place. I would respectfully like to point out that you two seem to be stuck in that place.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 7, 2006 10:45:06 AM

Whew!

I was ready for a real spankin. Got off easy. :)

Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2006 11:13:11 AM

Trepp:
Regarding the comparisons with the Mandatory immigration, and the notion that the Arabs and the Left have "moved on" and the settlers should do the same:

I see it as the exact opposite. It's very nice - and important - to have the pieces of paper, the UN resolution establishing Israel, etc. - but we are now seeing that this is insufficient to cement sovereignty. Let's recall that many center-left Israelis did not start out feeling their country was "conceived in sin" or "illegitimate" - they(we) have stumbled into this era of delegitimization precisely by giving too much weight to the court of world opinion.

This has left Israel uniquely, perversely dependent on world opinion for its legitimacy.

At some point one has to stick out one's elbows and stake out sovereignty by the schoolyard rules of geopolitics, which includes establishing stable population centers and repelling challengers.

If the Jewish people are unwilling to expel another ethnic group for moral/emotional reasons, then a realistic estimate "on the ground" indicates that we will have several rounds of jostling for geopolitical advantage - hopefully, with Israel taking back ancestral territory in nibbles instead of large '67 sized chunks.

Considering the likely bloodshed on both sides - and the decades-long negative effect on Israel's reputation and morale - it's hard for me to see how this is more "moral" in the long run than a one-time transfer.

But in the end our sovereignty must be established by duking it out - and settlement is a key tool in this geopolitical struggle. Certainly the Palis are using it - every bit as much as they are using the courts.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 7, 2006 12:11:06 PM

The most terrifying aspect of the widening gap between the left and the right in Israeli politics is the seeming inability to see past differences and focus on the issues which bind each and every one of us together.

The left and the right are not supposed to represent two different sides, b'chlal. The left and the right are SUPPOSED to represent two voices of the SAME entity. They are supposed to play devil's advocate to the extreme tendencies of each side. The goal should be to meet somewhere in the middle (Rambam, anyone?!).

During the worst times in Israel's recent history journalists and politicians have lamented that until we can "teach the Palestinians to love their own kids more than they hate us" we will face continued aggression from their side. Hard job, that. Especially given the fact that we can't seem to make the internal concessions necessary to create even the illusion of a unified front.

Seth, whether you intend it or not, you come across as someone who believes that there is no room in Israel's pluralistic political system for the Settler movement.

As David has pointed out, Israeli citizens living in the "settlements" contribute as much to Israel as any other citizen. There is a far lower rate of refusal to serve (be it in the military or in national service), and businesses established in these areas contribute not only jobs for citizens but tax revenues for the State.

To infer that the Israeli citizens living outside the Green Line are entitled to less representation in the government is exactly parallel to what the British tried to do to the American colonies. You might remember this stunt was stamped "taxation without representation" and a minor conflict (the Revolutionary War) was the solution for the colonists.

Posted by: zahava | Feb 7, 2006 12:14:12 PM

FFT
Seth is not here for a year living on Dad's dime. Since his parents made aliyah, they don't have many dimes left. He saved and borrowed to spend this year at HU, hoping to learn Hebrew and about Israel before making aliyah after graduation.

Please try and remember how sure you were about your view of the world at that age (and how little you had to base that view on). Give him a little credit for wanting to be Israeli, make an effort to understand he is trying to emmulate Israelis by stating his opinions strongly :-), and give him some direction if you don't like his current choice of research material.

And, IMHO, calling him names and belittling him won't encourage him to look further than the surface of this issue.

Best, Carol

Posted by: Carol | Feb 7, 2006 12:55:49 PM

Carol... I accept your comment at face value because I know you to be a fair-minded and level-headed person. But please go back and read Seth's comments to me - all of them - and tell me honestly if you feel he came here open to absorbing new information. Seth's youth and struggling student status can't serve as simultaneous excuses for both ignorance and arrogance. I was polite when he waltzed in here and informed me how annoying and boring he found my two most recent posts. It's all very nice that he says he likes reading my "thoughtful and witty posts" (meaning the ones where I don't talk about being a religious settler) but he found it tiresome that I had the gall to take a couple of days off from entertaining him in order to wrestle with some difficult issues that have been weighing on me. He then came back in subsequent comments with increasingly flawed and slanted information and presented it in an extremely confrontational manner. Treppenwitz is my house and I think most would have to admit that I am not an inhospitable host. But if young Seth had walked into my real home and expressed himself as arrogantly and insultingly (not to mention incorrectly) as he did here, I would have shown him the door. You are correct that I could take the time to try to educate him (I thought that was exactly what I was trying to do with these two posts) but Seth came here in full transmit mode and was not looking for information... he was only interested in dispensing it. If he was indeed trying to be 'Israeli', he is emulating the very worst possible aspect of our culture. If he learns anything between now and when he finally grows up, I hope he learns that there is much more to being Israeli than simply being arrogant and rude to total strangers.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 7, 2006 1:42:11 PM

I'm not anti-settler. I'm anti-settlers who are more obsessed with the settler movement than for the well-being of Israel.

It's funny how you ask me to "venture back out into the world of grown-ups." I'm not sure if I'm ready for that if it means throwing temper tantrums over 21 year olds who have an opinion.

And your comment about how Haaretz is not a credible news source.... please guide me to one that is. I'm hoping you will leave out Arutz 7, Ynet and JPost.

It's true I directed you towards an opinion article, but IF you read it you would notice how the facts presented in the article are not opinion. The opinion revolves around the writer's view point that the settlers need to become part of the greater Israeli society, and not remain a priveleged subset.

Posted by: Seth | Feb 7, 2006 4:02:21 PM

David,

I hear what you are saying. It is not my party and I'll apologize for my behavior.I spent a lot of years being asked to remove the unruly and belligerent drunks and sometimes old habits die hard.

But I think that the disagreement is a good example of some of the problems that are currently being faced within Israel and the US.

Intransigence over positions and a need to be right regardless of the consequences make it difficult to get things done.

If there is one thing that the recent events at Amona highlight it is that perception sometimes is everything.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 7, 2006 4:17:50 PM

Seth... I'm afraid that what is best for Israel is something on which you and I would not agree... and therein lies the disconnect. I am not throwing a temper tantrum so much as I am throwing you out. I have given you ample opportunity to be a mensch and admit that you have misquoted and misused information to make all settlers appear like parasites feeding off the government (and much worse, I might add), and instead you have simply decided to play a game of 'I know you are but what am I'. Have a nice day.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 7, 2006 4:23:12 PM

Trep, I read the fact about the mortgages in a newspaper article. It didn't specify if anyone did in fact owe money, but for some reason the writer felt it necessary to bring up that point.
"Unlike the Gaza Disengagement, however, residents of Amona will receive no compensation for the homes they built in the community, and are not entitled to government aid of any kind in order to relocate. Families who took out mortgages to pay for their homes will be legally obligated to repay their loans even after their houses are demolished.

The government contends that people who built homes illegally have no grounds for compensation. In Gaza, Jews who built homes in Shirat HaYam, a town not expressly authorized by the government, have not received compensation, though former town residents are contesting their status."
http://tinyurl.com/e4768

Even if these homes were fully paid for, the settlers were to take a complete loss on real estate and home value in this situation. Call it straw man's if you want. I don't.

If Canada were to decide my home and lot will be taken away, and give me no compensation, I'd be extremely pissed, and it would be mostly because of lost equity, not losing my particular location.

As for the arrests. I'm not sure if it was you or not. But someone here said no arrests were made. Lets hear what comes out from this before anyone concludes that 22 arrests weren't enough if they came with intent of arresting demonstrators.

Posted by: Bacon Eating Atheist Jew | Feb 7, 2006 4:26:32 PM

David - you're right, as I said before, for the left not to speak out (when yes is does claim to focus on morals) is hypocracy. I just wanted to point out that there ARE voices on the left who have spoken out and are willing to stand with the settler movement on this issue and for this they deserve credit - at least for consistency. They've extended the olive branch, is the right willing to accept it?

As to the incidences of excessive force against Israeli citizens, there are many, usually within the West Bank especially protesting house demolitions, helping with olive harvests and other times. They rarely get any press attention but I will try to track down some details for you.
I can't really speak for others but the impression I get isn't that people on the left don't feel that settlers deserve full rights under the law, I think it may be a bit of reverse shaudefraude - they have felt marginalized in the past and now feel that the positions are reversed.
Don't forget, for every hateful thing said about a settler, there is an equally hateful thing said about secular Jews and anyone on the left - see the diatribe above.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 7, 2006 4:36:44 PM

Jack... No problem.

Atheist... Why are you so fixated on finding selfish motives for the settlers to have been demonstrating? Have you seen these structures from Amona? We're not talking about high-priced real estate! These were tiny pre-fab structures. Nobody was going to put their life on the line over these houses... least of all a bunch of teenagers who certainly had no financial stake in the community. You are making completely unreasonable accusations. As to the arrests, I never said nobody was arrested. I simply maintained that so few were arrested relative to the huge number of people who participated that it makes it difficult to believe the police were there in a law-enforcement capacity.

Do me a favor. Reread my post and take a moment to be honest with yourself. Do your comments relate directly to what I wrote... or did you simply pick my comment board to vent your own feelings about religious settlers? I'm not picking on you and the fact that the majority of Israelis may think one way does not invalidate another point of view. Natanyahu is not the spokesperson for the settler movement so I fail to see why you keep asking me this odd question.

Lisoosh... Fair enough. By the way, I reread your earlier comment and realized what you were asking me. I was mostly referring to illegal Arab building in Jerusalem and the Negev.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 7, 2006 4:44:44 PM

Trepp, I'm just voicing my opinion. I think settlers are being selfish in general, putting their beliefs in front of what is deemed to be good for Israel.
And you shouldn't pick on me, my opinion, even coming from Canada, represents what the majority of Israel thinks.
Again, you have failed to mention anything about Netanyahu not trying to stop the evacuation.

Posted by: Bacon Eating Atheist Jew | Feb 7, 2006 5:03:18 PM

David - A couple of Bedouin villages in the Negev were just recently demolished - tax paying IDF serving citizens.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 7, 2006 6:36:39 PM

New commentor here.

I haven't taken the time to read all the other comments on this particular post, but I am impressed with your sound and logical approach to this subject.

Personally, I think there is no excuse for any of this violence, but like you mentioned toward the end of your post, I believe if there were an independent investigation, that it would go a long way toward rebuilding people's faith in the government and police.

If not, the government is setting itself up for having a whole segment of the population view them as evil tyrants and dismiss them altogether.

I am sickened by all the news reports and blog posts telling of the beatings, and horrific treatment of the Amona residents.

Posted by: Tracey | Feb 7, 2006 7:07:07 PM

Ummm.... Bacon Eating Atheist Jew.... What is it exactly that the Settler movement is supposed to be gaining on a personal and selfish level by opposing giving away chunks of land -- land in many cases soaked with the blood of our fallen heros -- in exchange for NOTHING? Has it never occurred to you that the Settler movement opposes this out of a LOVE for Israel and Israelis?

You make it sound as though only those living in settlements benefit from Israel retaining authority in these places. Did you notice that since the pull out from Gaza that the Kassams are now falling within the Green line?

The Settler movement opposes land-in-exhange-for-nothing out of fear that by shrinking our borders we make those borders less defensible. In addition, there is the compelling fear that giving land after a 4.5-year period of terror will be seen as weakness, and will serve not to abate the level of terror, but to intensify it.

Posted by: zahava | Feb 7, 2006 7:12:30 PM

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