"Not all of the settlers are Teitels," shout the settlers from their bunkers. "We must not smear an entire community because of one killer," chants their chorus, closing ranks whenever one of "their own," alone or in collaboration, killer or hilltop youth, deviates from the rules of the game.
They're right. The pure camp of settlers must not be infected by the likes of Baruch Goldstein, by the "Bat Ayin Underground," by Jewish provocation in Hebron's Avraham Avinu neighborhood, by the freedom fighters on the hilltops. Like any nation, the settler nation has its deviants, terrorists and murderers, and even homosexuals, God forbid. A nation like any other. The polemic over the question of settlers' responsibility for the criminals among them is in the best case irrelevant and in the worst, obfuscates their real sin.
The settlers' crime lies not in raising murderers, or even in nurturing a culture of hate toward the Palestinians or scorn for the Tel Aviv "bubble." Their sin is in their settlement itself. They aren't simply building homes and tending gardens, real estate mavens taking advantage of the good deal afforded by the Six-Day War. Rather, they chose to create a separate nation and established one with its own territory, laws, language, ideology and customs. It is a nation that conducts foreign policy with the State of Israel, with its own law-enforcement agency and militias to strike anyone threatening its borders. It has efficient intelligence whose agents work within Israel's government and army, and its own public-relations apparatus.
The settlers have turned the State of Israel into their satellite. Their power is so great that even a superpower like the United States folds in the face of their obstinacy. What do they care about peace with the Palestinians or Syria, the Arab peace initiative or the Iranian nuclear threat? A house in Ofra, a neighborhood in Efrat, a trailer home in Givat Rahel are far more important to them than the fate of the Israeli bubble, which in its stupidity knows not where its "peace process" is truly leading.
Several years ago this settler nation sought to "settle in the hearts" of the citizens of the Israeli "exile." Then, they still aspired to be part of the State of Israel, to convince, charm, and explain, as their slogan went, that Yesha, meaning "salvation," the Hebrew acronym for Judea and Samaria, "is here." Then, they still believed they needed the support of the mother country in order to declare an Israeli Balfour Declaration that would make their state legitimate. They understood that the attempt to gather themselves under Israel's defensive shield had failed. The fact that IDF brigades were forced to cancel exercises in order to protect them, and the enormous cost of guaranteeing their security, created such strong opposition in Israel that Ariel Sharon, their erstwhile prince, decided to end their costly adventure in Gaza and remove the settlers in the Strip. In the settler narrative, which has succeeded in taking root in Israel, that reason for the disengagement has been forgotten.
Now Yaakov "Jack" Teitel has come to their aid. He is not "all" of the settlers, but he is the decoy whose role is to divert the discourse away from the settlers and the strategic threat they represent onto various criminological and sociological polemics over whether it is a person's environment or DNA that turns him into an assassin. A fair question indeed, but irrelevant. Teitels do not have to be settlers in order to kill those who don't agree with their views.
The State of Israel will not live or die over such an assassin, or a dozen more like him. The country is engaged in a national struggle with the settler state. If there is a strategic threat to Israel's continued survival, it sits on the hills of Hebron and Samaria. If there is one force that can bring down the continuation of the peace process, it is continued building in the settlements. If the U.S. ultimately chooses to cut Israel off, it will be because of the settlements.
Across the Green Line are two states, Palestinian and Jewish, which do not see eye to eye with the State of Israel. While the Palestinian state has a chance of reaching peace with Israel, the settler state sees Israel as a strategic threat and its leadership as a gang of ditherers, a state threatening to undermine the power of the settler state. In their eyes Israel is the real exile, dancing to the tune of a corrupt overlord.
The roles have reversed. No longer are settlers seeking to settle the hearts of Israelis; they are putting forth an unequivocal demand that Israelis inhabit the settlers' hearts - or else.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now