"You are the founding father of the evil," Rabbi Moshe Levinger hurled at an IDF officer 30 years ago after the officer asked him to stop blocking the main road in Hebron outside Beit Hadassah. He shouted and spit, shouted and kicked. His wife, Miriam Levinger, slapped another officer who asked her not to invade a house in Kiryat Arba. Young women in long dresses hurled slurs that competed with the spitting teens and children in their knitted skullcaps. Buckets of sticky strawberry syrup for soft drinks were poured on the senior officers, who only wanted to stop the rioting rabbi, and an entire company of IDF troops was locked up by Kiryat Arba residents until the army announced its withdrawal.
It wasn't the evacuation of Yamit or even an outpost. It was just an attempt to make a legal arrest, to prevent illegal squatting and to simply stop the rioting. Later came Sebastia and the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, and Beit Hadassah and the expansion of the settlements in Samaria of the northern West Bank until the expropriation of property for "military purposes," which turned into settlements.
It's a fascinating history, during which the settler culture of violent force was developed. Sometimes the force was hidden from view: political pressure on prime ministers, arm wrestling or threats, and more often it showed as open, brutal and contemptuous force: shooting up Arab homes, throwing hand-grenades or using an ax in the streets of an Arab city. A new life form was created, but as usual life just went on. "They talk, we act," was the working slogan of the settlers. They were the fathers of the simple idea that governments only understand force.
Now the orphan who murdered his parents stands at his settlement and whines.
They, the government, suddenly want to use force against him. After 37 years of teaching and preaching the use of force, smashing all the rules and breaking any law that did not suit them, they discover that the government has stolen the invention. Save us, they cry to Jews, save us they cry to the leftists - those proud Jews - Sharon intends to use force, Sharon doesn't give a damn about the government, his party, us, who taught him as he taught us how to ignore what we don't like.
It is difficult not to be impressed by the chutzpah. Democracy is collapsing because settlers are being told to get out of a country that does not belong to them. Suddenly they have learned to spell the word "consensus," and even found the word "legitimacy" in the dictionary, a word they had difficulty pronouncing for the last 37 years - evil, bad words, that were never meant for use except to harm the settlers' ability to act according to their latest craziness. Now those words are theirs to grab hold of in an attempt to stop the fall from the mountain top.
Without a consensus, there is no legitimacy to bringing the Jews back from the Palestinian Diaspora, he calls from the top of the mountain and a strange echo replies: Bat Ayin West West West West. Because without a consensus you can only build settlements, but not dismantle them. Without legitimacy it is possible to set up outposts but their destruction, that's something very undemocratic.
Leftists, in particular, believe the settlers must get hot and bothered from the call for help. Isn't the settler trying to win over hearts and minds?
After all, the settlers know the leftists, know they love democracy and stupidly love peace, and they owe it to the settlers. After all, they, the leftists, brought the Oslo disaster, their hands are bloody with the 1,000 dead. And, if not for Oslo, at least make them pay for the stupidity that blinded them to the catastrophe being created by the settlements. They should save what their apathy built.
But what can you do? It's afternoon, when self-satisfied leftists, sitting in Sheinkin cafes without any culture of their Jewish roots, love to enjoy a siesta. They don't hear the cries of despair just as they did not hear the pounding hammers that built the settlements. That's always been the problem with the left: they start talking about democracy for the settlers and start to yawn.
There apparently won't be much choice. Once again, force will be pulled out of the warehouses. "The scenes of 1993-1994" will return, the settler warns. The rebbetzin's slap and the spitting of the rabbi are always ready to be called to the flag. They are the flag.
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