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Hebrew is a beautiful language. But it is also like a model whose golden days are behind her and must use pancake makeup to cover what age and strife have wrought. By way of example two terms that have become inseparable parts of the language, to the point that their real meanings has been forgotten: "price tag" and "neighbor procedure," which gave birth to "child procedure."

On the face of it, what could be more innocent than retaliating to a past or future injustice? A settlers' synagogue was torched - even if it has not happened yet - a mosque will be torched. Settlers' olive trees are uprooted - or not - Palestinians' trees will be pulled up, and the same for the mutual puncturing of tires. After all, what else can they do? How can they defend themselves against the inherent evil of the Palestinians? Can they go to the police, the army? The settlers have learned from the Palestinians what happens when they complain to the police.

And what's so bad about the infamous "neighbor procedure," in which Israeli soldiers use Palestinian civilians as human shields?

"According to genuine Jewish ethics, your life is above that of your enemy, whether it is a soldier or a civilian who is protecting him. Therefore you are prohibited from endangering your lives for the enemy, even their civilians," Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva, in Yitzhar, instructed soldiers. This is the same rabbi who, in his abomination of a book, "Torat Hamelekh," explains when it is permissible and necessary to kill non-Jews. Here too, as in "price tag," "real" Jewish morality finds explicit expression: Strike first him who rises to kill you. Even if the Palestinians did not burn, uproot or puncture, it is best, a duty even, to strike preemptively. The Palestinians will know why. An apparent reversal of the "justice of the innocent" equation that is ostensible inherent in "price tag."

The settlers' "price tag" and the army's "neighbor procedure" are so comfortably embedded in the language as to conceal the fact that "price tag" is an act of terror and "neighbor procedure" is a crime. On October 6, 2005, the High Court of Justice established the absolute illegality of using Palestinian civilians in a military operation, whether in the "neighbor procedure" or the related "early warning procedure."

But the standards of the High Court, or those the law itself attempts to establish in defining acts of terror are invalidated by divine standards, as interpreted by God's representatives on earth. The terrorism of the settlers and the crimes of the army - even if soldiers are occasionally prosecuted - have become so banal that few are upset by them. Just as no one is upset about murders between criminals, to the point that these acts appear natural. Indeed, what could be more natural than settlers harming Arabs or for the army to use civilians as human shields? And when these riots benefit from a protective Hebrew language, morality and justice can rest easy.

This is precisely the dark spot that those terrorists aspired to reach: to conduct a private war, unimpeded and cloaked in a holy robe of justice. This is terror that does not seek political gains - after all, these have already been achieved by the "good settlers" - and is not aimed at creating a new demographic reality in the territories; that will be done by the settlers' representatives in the Knesset.

This is local terror with an instructive purpose. Its goal is to terrorize the Palestinians and teach them to behave as the settlers believe they should. This is terror with limited aims: to serve as the settlers' military arm. Just as Iran has an army, the Revolutionary Guards and the volunteer Basij militias, which carry out most of the acts of terror against civilians; just as Hamas has a military wing and also civilian forces that terrorize anyone considered a backslider from Islam, so too the settlers have created a similar terror force.

Not all the settlers, of course - some condemn these acts - but has anyone seen the defense force of the good settlers deployed to assist in the Palestinian olive harvest? That contemptible task is left for the army. They reserve themselves for the holy work: terror.