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Monday, December 31, 2007

When did being a religious Jew become a crime in Israel?

Despite what some people might think, I try to keep abreast of news from as many sources as possible... not just the ones that conform to my world-view and politics.  But I have to tell you that it is getting harder and harder to stomach the incitement and slander that Ha'aretz passes off as news.

When two of Israel's sons are gunned down in cold blood by terrorists while out enjoying the beauty of a nature hike near their home, it should be a cause for national mourning and outrage.  These were two young men serving their country in the most demanding and elite units in the IDF.  They were the poster boys for the the term 'yeled tov yerushalayim' (literally 'good boy Jerusalem, but meant to describe a squeaky clean, good citizen) ... the kind of boy you'd gladly bring home to mother. 

Yet,in the wake of their murder, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff wrote an 'analysis' piece in Ha'aretz entitled "Nipping new W. Bank Jewish terror group in the bud " where their main contention is that the real saving grace of the murderers being captured so quickly is not that there will be less Arab gunmen running around killing people... but rather that it will "nip in the bud the creation of a new Jewish terror organization in the West Bank".

Are we really going down that road again? 

From the time Ariel Sharon launched his campaign for disengagement from Gaza he and his lackeys issued nearly continuous warnings of dangerous right wing extremists who were lurking in the shadows... ready to strike.  Yet nobody seems to have taken note that throughout the contentious and confrontational evacuation from Gaza no Jewish terror group emerged. 

And yet here we are in the wake of a national tragedy, and all these two cynics can find to write is that if the security services had not rounded up the terrorists responsible for murdering these religious Jews, the inevitable religious right wing predisposition for violence and vengeance would have reared its ugly head in the form of a new Jewish terrorist organization.

This kind of baseless, vicious speculation can have but one goal; dividing the Israeli public into two camps... secular left and religious right.  That was the goal of such baseless warnings during disengagement and that is the goal again here.

They use as their 'criteria' for the formation of such terror groups the fact that the vicitms came from an "Ideological Settlement'" - a thinly veiled way of saying 'religious'.  Just as during disengagement the word 'messianic' was tossed around like a dirty word (despite the fact that Judaism at its very core is a messianic religion), anyone who exhibits any tendency towards an ideology (meaning being religious) is a security risk... a potential terrorist. 

There have been countless terror attacks in which Israelis from 'ideological settlelements' have been slaughtered while going about their peaceful business... with no perpetrators ever brought to justice.  And yet, miraculously, no Jewish terror group rose up to avenge their deaths! 

In the history of the state, with its bloody history of Jewish victims and unpunished Arab terrorists, there has been exactly one incident of an organized 'machteret' (Jewish underground) forming and carrying out attacks against Arabs.  One.  That is hardly a statistically significant trend on which to base such a ridiculous 'analysis'.  It is not only a terrible way to besmirch the memory of these two shining examples of wholesome Israeli manhood, but it is a libelous indictment of an entire sector of Israel's population.

I am so tired of people in this country refusing to discuss issues and instead seeking to stifle rational public debate by marginalizing and discrediting anyone who disagrees with them!  Almost half of the Jewish citizens of this country are religious and a large chunk of 'secular' Israelis self-identify as traditional. 

Our very reason for being here is our shared religion.  At a time when our enemies are calling into question the very legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State, are we really going to delegitimatize and even criminalize the practice of Judaism?

Posted by David Bogner on December 31, 2007 | Permalink


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There's an element of projection here. The peace now crowd, having had their illusions shattered time and again by the reality of terror persist in their quest for peace. It defies rational analysis. So it's necessary to portray those who question those assumptions as irrational (dangerous) faith based charlatans, because that's exactly what they'd see if they looked in the mirror.

Posted by: soccer dad | Dec 31, 2007 1:13:51 PM

Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon I've noticed among some of the secular crowd here in America as well. They consider the very idea of people living a religious lifestyle to be a personal slap in the face - so they will say or do anything to denigrate religious people. This justifies their continued secularity - as if to say, "You think you're so holy, but I'm a better person than you, and I don't need religion to make me that way. So there." And if the religious crowd hasn't actually done anything wrong, they'll make stuff up - or, as you put it, engage in vicious speculation. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of secular folks who believe in "live and let live" - but most of them don't make speeches or write editorials about it. It's very sad, actually.

Posted by: psachya | Dec 31, 2007 3:50:02 PM

Way off base on this one, David, in my opinion. I have family who are religious and live in Hashmonaim, which is all religious.

I don't view that, and I don't think most Israelis would - as an "idealogical" settlement. Or Efrat, either, for that matter.

Posted by: Allison Sommer | Dec 31, 2007 4:45:28 PM

Great posts the last two days

Posted by: MR | Dec 31, 2007 4:51:52 PM

soccer dad... I think you might be looking too deeply at this. I think it is plain old fashioned hate.

psachya... The American cousin of this phenom is not nearly as spiteful as the Israeli brand of bias.

Allison Sommer... I am very close friends with someone who lives in Hashmonaim who is completely onboard with the platforms of a certain party that was outlawed from the Knesset some years ago. I love him to pieces but he and I don't often agree on ways and means if you catch my drift. My point is that you seem to have fallen into the same trap as the two writers I mentioned in the post. It is the basic problem of assuming that any group of people who live in a particular place do so for a specific reason... and that they continue to think and act alike once they are there. I am guilty of this to some extent when I think about people from the center of the country, but the level to which these 'journalists' have taken the sweeping generalization is truly vile. Tel Aviv was settled by people who were ideologically driven. But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would call that city an 'ideological settlement' today. By the same token, there are many people who live in Kiryat Arba because the rents are reasonable and the weather is fantastic. The same can be said of Efrat or Hashmonaim. There are plenty of very ideologically driven people who live there but there are also people who think about ideology and politics only in terms of how it directly affects them (i.e. how close is the wall going to come to my house, etc.). By calling some (or any) settlements 'ideological' is to paint everyone living there with the same wide brush and that is bigoted and unfair. The point of my post is that such generalization, when used to frame a theory such as was presented in the article I linked to, is libelous and amounts to scaremongering. That is the favored tool of those who can't be bothered to discuss the issues.

MR... Thank you. Although all this politics is giving me a sour stomach.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 31, 2007 5:01:49 PM

David - stop reading Haaretz. It is bad for your health, both physically and emotionally. I used to tell myself that is important to know what the "other half thinks" - but I came to the conclusion that my emotional well-being was more important than being "informed". I put "informed" in quotation marks because when you analyze it there are very few hard facts presented in the Israeli media and quite a lot of political spin. Why do you need to expose yourself to this?

Posted by: westbankmama | Dec 31, 2007 7:02:06 PM

Coming along nicely.... we'll have the last of that greehnhorn blue-state liberal unction worked out of you in another few months...

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 31, 2007 7:16:38 PM

The referenced column makes so little sense I have to guess that it was a botched translation from a Hebrew original. Is that possible?

Posted by: Fred | Jan 1, 2008 12:05:36 AM

westbankmama... Knowledge is never a dangerous thing, but ignorance almost always is. I'd rather be informed of what 'others' think of me than be taken by surprise when their thoughts to turn to action.

Ben-David... Don't send out that far-right membership card so fast. There are still a host of issues that would make you tear your hair out if you knew where I stood. :-)

Fred... It's hard to tell. Ha'aretz's English language writing standards are not much better than the Jerusalem post's. I pine for the New York Times... even if their coverage made me want to scream. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2008 9:28:53 AM

It seems to me that Ha'aretz et alii are getting shriller. My guess is that they feel that their game will be up soon.

If there was ever any time for dividing the population in religious right and secular left, it has passed.

Posted by: Ruth | Jan 1, 2008 12:43:05 PM

Name a Bible-believing Christian that the New York Times has lauded or that Hollywood has portrayed as the romantic lead. It seems, to a secularist, ones greatest fear is that the group of young men behind you in a dark alley may be coming from a Bible study.

Posted by: Bob | Jan 1, 2008 5:18:14 PM

I would be grateful to be informed as to how the real estate developers building settlements and communities in West Bank territory got title to this land in order to be able to sell off parcels to homebuyers at premium prices. From WHERE did these orthodox personages get ownership title and WHO gave them authority to set up these real estate businesses in west bank territory and to sell this property only to orthodox buyers? Most, if not all, of the rogue settlements on the West Bank, such as Hashmonaim, were originally peopled by orthodox zealots who moved in and took over a site. Who directed them to engage in this activity? Who organized and coordinated these moves. NAMES PLEASE! Is this a means by which orthodox big shots get their hands on land for nothing to be subsequently sold at a premium? Is this the price that the orthodox political parties demand for cooperation in any coalition government? Just who is making big shekels from the sale of this contested territory? Why should any businessmen, whether they wear a yarmulka or not, be permitted to engage in this type of cynical and greedy manipulation in the Land of Israel? What of these “motivated” settlers. Is their motivation that the real estate that they squat on today will increase exponentially in value after a while and they can eventually sell at an astronomical profit. If the real estate is returned to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement, will these “motivated” settlers expect compensation from the government for their “loss“? Where will the government get the money to compensate the settlers and home buyers for the inflated value of the property? Will Israel ask the U.S. for a monetary bailout for peace? That would take chutzpah but is well within the realm of possibility. Inquiring minds want to know! Shalom and zei gezunt for now. The ads below are presented as documentation:

Hashmonaim Listings:
If your interested in real estate in the religious yishuv of Hashmonaim, we have many interesting propositions. For details please contact us.
For Sale 4 bedroom semi detached house. Very close to Synagogue, Yeshiva and schools. $345,000 pictures
We now have a large selection of beautiful, well designed houses for sale in Hashmonaim. Great Investment opportunities!

Land within Hashmonaim is expensive (see box), and though duplexes start at around $375,000, private homes - which are being built bigger every year - can fetch well over half a million dollars, residents said.

Posted by: MOSHE RABEYNU | Mar 20, 2009 4:55:41 AM

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