Israeli settlers must ask themselves: what went wrong?
Since few understand the troubled, disturbed souls of some of the rioters, it is hard to formulate an effective policy to deter or penalize them. Instead of talking about eradicating the plague, we should think about treating it.
What's happening must be stopped. The army and police have failed to do so. So have parents, communities, rabbis and educators. If we were talking about a war (as some would like it become), I'd write: The army failed not due to lack of desire or lack of intelligence, but because it drew the wrong conclusions from the raw material.
Since few understand the troubled, disturbed souls of some of the rioters, it is hard to formulate an effective policy to deter or penalize them. Instead of talking about eradicating the plague, a term even settler leaders have used, we should think about treating it. But in the atmosphere prevailing today, with justified rage guiding the public's response, this has no chance. Everyone, especially those in whose gardens the disease sprouted, wants revenge. After all, the rioters are threatening the very existence of the settlement enterprise.
As I see it, the Israel Defense Forces and even the mosques are merely punching bags. The rioters' main fury is directed against their home - both their nuclear families and their public/ideological home. Only by hitting out at the IDF, and especially at Arabs, can they shock and draw attention to their protest against those whom they think are betraying their mission.
Materialism and bourgeois values have spread to the settlements as well, and this is why their residents have made do with faint protests against the construction freeze and have accepted the government's declaration that its goal is two states. If this declaration were implemented, it would be the end of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Now this community, including its leadership, is also putting up with uprooting the outposts. Had the protest against such actions been a sweeping one, say those involved in the "price-tag" attacks, there would have been no need for their radical actions.
Then, of course, there is "the betrayal of Gush Katif." Only a handful of the hundreds of thousands of settlers and their supporters went to Gaza to prevent the uprooting of the Gush Katif settlements. The settlers' public and rabbinical leadership called on the youth to fight, but in fact, it collaborated with the uprooters, and this wound is still bleeding. By day they protested, but by night they coordinated positions and dined together. "The leadership's betrayal," it was called then - and still is.
But in the price-taggers' eyes, the founding generation did not only betray its public and ideological mission: Even in their own homes, the founders did not always practice what they preached. And this the young radicals can neither adjust to nor accept.
They are well aware of the hatred their acts generate against the settler community they sprang from. Now, following their attacks on institutions and people that an appalled public rushed to defend, this community will pay the price for their deeds.
In the fight against the price-tag phenomenon, nobody is tying the IDF's hands, as some have charged. The opposite is true. The government, which is accused of incompetence, has a supreme interest in stopping such acts. So do the army, the police, the Shin Bet security service and, above all, the settlers' leadership. But the reactions, some of them hysterical (a "civil war" will be sparked by this gang? Who will fight alongside it? ), indicate that the necessary battle could be waged the wrong way, turning the price-taggers into a modern-day version of the Israelites in Egypt: "The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
The culprits will be caught and punished. But this won't moderate the sense of frustration many youngsters feel toward the establishment, including the IDF, which they see as eagerly and violently carrying out orders to uproot outposts.
The settlement establishment - which claims to be the guardian of the people's unity and, unlike its rivals, to be honest and pure - must examine its deeds and ask itself what went wrong during the years of struggle. For unless it does so, the reason why these youngsters ascended the hilltops, and for the unrestrained, criminal and destructive lifestyle some of them have adopted, will never disappear. And therefore, neither will the price-taggers themselves.