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An IDF major general clutched at his kippa as a drowning man would clutch at a piece of flotsam, when he was asked this week to explain his defense of thuggish settlers. Not just any settlers, but the settlers of Yitzhar, who have made a name for themselves as wild and violent, taking out their rage on both Palestinians and our troops alike. The dangerous collaboration between this general and these settlers has already been damned in the Talia Sasson report on illegal outposts.

But the head of the IDF Central Command this week leaped to defend these settlers from his own officers. Lt. Col. Guy Hazut, commander of the Paratroopers 202nd Battalion, spoke for his peers last week when he said at a conclave of officers, "I don't fear going into a Palestinian village as much as I fear entering Yitzhar, where I feel my life is threatened."

When Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh was asked to explain his sycophantic defense of the wasps nest known as Yitzhar, he whined that he was being persecuted as a religious officer, as if the bareheaded receive biased treatement, are never criticized, and are always immune. But wait, take the much criticized chief of staff, is he religious?

Not only is the kippa not harmful, it also assists and promotes. Surely Naveh himself knows that he was the preferred candidate of neither the defense minister nor the chief of staff when he was recently appointed to his position. He was merely a compromise by the two; it was as though they decided that as he had a kippa, he would be the disengagement general in the Central Command. So what can Naveh complain about when his kippa protects its wearer, and even benefits him?

The appointment should have made his superiors hesitate when they read in the IDF weekly, "Bamahaneh," about Naveh's cultural influences, not to mention his childhood and latter-day heroes:

"When I want to take pleasure over something clean, a war with we want in it, without the problem of public opinion, without the problem of purity of arms, without the problem of legitimacy, I go back to the childhood mystery stories of Hasambah [a crime-solving gang of children]. Hasambah is us - good against evil, and the good guys always win."

And now he adds to the list of good guys the violent settlers of Yitzhar, who during Purim emerged from their lairs as drunken as Cossacks in order to carry out pogroms against their neighbors.

The kippa need not be a religious accessory, it can also be a secular one, such as for the members of Kibbutz Bet Alfa, where the difference between "good and bad" also seems to have been blurred. Through the sale of mounted water cannons, they decided to collaborate with the crazed and ruthless ruler of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who last week again forged the results of an election in his country. Now, when the people of Zimbabwe demonstrate against the flawed elections, it will be the Bet Alfa water cannons that disperse them.

The people of this kibbutz previously provided Apartheid South Africa with such mounted water cannons, and are now supplying them to Mugabe after most countries in the world have decided to boycott him. (The full story of the relationship between Bet Alfa and Mugabe appeared in an article by Danny Adino Abba and Shahar Ginosar in Yedioth Ahronoth). And so, the metaphorical kippa can also be knitted from a skein of "Zionism, Socialism and the Brotherhood of Man," and they can roll their eyes on Mount Gilboa and not only on the hills of Judea and Samaria.

Naveh wants to advance, and if he doesn't suck up to the settlers of Yitzhar, nobody will save him from their evil deeds. Kibbutz Bet Alfa wants to make a living, and if it doesn't sell Zimbabwe mounted water cannons for riot control, nobody will save them from bankruptcy. Okay, we long ago understood the needs and impulses at the base of human behavior. But for God's sake, take the kippas off your heads, because a kippa - whether religious or secular - that manages to cover a narrow mind is never wide enough to hide a major disgrace.