Price tag - Tomer Appelbaum - September 2011
A settler 'price tag' attack on a Peace Now activist's home in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
Text size

Does only one red line pass between two black points? Recently, at least two have been clearly identified.

The first line is drawn at the entrance to City Hall. There, 150 tent dwellers, protesting their removal from the boulevard, stormed the doors. Until then the protest had been conducted peacefully without shrieking or outbursts, and suddenly, well brought up Tel Aviv children began shouting like lunatics and even pushing a little. The district police commander announced "a thick red line that has been crossed today," and his subordinates beat, dragged, handcuffed and threw rioters into the police van. Thus will be done to people who don't know the limits.

On the same day, but not in the same country, another red line was drawn. "Extreme right-wing elements" broke into an Israel Defense Forces base and destroyed vehicles and military equipment. And if 40 demonstrators were arrested near City Hall, nobody was arrested near the settlement of Beit El. The police are still seeking in order not to find. The commanders described the event as "crossing a red line" or "an escalation." Whenever the chariot of Israel and its horsemen are harmed, the shock is profound: Just don't touch my messiahs.

Amidst this commotion, a local columnist published a strong article. "Anyone who harms the IDF is not a Zionist," she wrote, expressing what many people feel: The IDF is sacred, and damaging its property is sacrilegious; the IDF is the last bastion of Zionism, and any slashed jeep tire is an ugly slash on its face.

Burning mosques and crops - that's something that shouldn't be done, but it still is not a denial of the Zionist principle: The land is ours, the sky is ours. The entire land, and the entire sky too. To train dogs to smell Arabs from a distance - like the white dog from Mississippi that was trained to identify blacks and to bite them - is still Zionism for beginners. To summon members of Rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League from all over the world to come to the aid of the settler nation is a necessity not to be condemned, in an illuminating article. An article that sets off a red light. Settlers, although they have erred at times, are good Zionists, as long as they know how to differentiate between IDF property and an Arab.

Building a mausoleum in honor of a murderer, bringing pupils on a pilgrimage to it - that's Zionism. Cleansing half a city of its residents - evict and inherit - that's also Zionism. Building a cultural center on the living ruins of a city that has become a prostitute - Zionism at its best. And why invite mercenaries from Tel Aviv if the comedy team of Ruby and Silvan is willing to perform there every evening free of charge - two famous participants from the game show "Who wants to be president, and who wants to be prime minister?"

Today there is no longer any need to demolish a building in Amona or Migrona, in Atzmona or Tzalmona, in Almona or Palmona to prompt the phalangists to leave at dawn to search for prey. Veteran reservists returning from operational activity in the territories are breaking their silence and reporting routine attacks by settlers, which have intensified in recent days and in anticipation of the coming days. The golem arises every day and wreaks destruction, although it's not clear who is the golem and who is its creator. "Senior IDF and Shin Bet security services officials are more concerned about the Jews on the West Bank than about the Arabs," wrote newspapers this week, citing defense sources.

If there is already a malicious "price tag" in place, then it's preferable that the hilltop jugend "collect payment" from the army at its bases rather than from the farmer on his way to his olives, or from the pupil on his way to school. That way it will be more logical and less dangerous.

And if the IDF is still above everything, standing alone beyond the red line of what is and isn't allowed, then perhaps the "civic discourse" was not really renewed this summer, as we believed. Maybe it's just the same old and distorted discourse, in uniform.