Opinion

Israel's Government and the Settlers Want Terror

Every settler murdered in a terror attack strengthens the public's commitment to fulfill the settlers' agenda

A man mourns over the grave of an Israeli who was killed in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, during his funeral in Kochav Hashchar, West Bank, March 19, 2018.
\ RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS

Revolutions necessitate victims. There are no revolutions without bloodshed, violence, sweat and tears. The settlement project is a revolutionary project working within Israeli society, eating away at it from the inside, and like every successful revolution, it has managed to change reality. Because of the settlers, two states for two peoples will not be established between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Israel will be a binational state, imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinians.

But the settlement movement’s revolutionary breach is not yet complete. The settlement revolution has not yet attained all its objectives. This is a messianic movement, whose believers hold that the land was promised to the Jews by God. The movement will not rest until the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. And the Palestinians have not yet surrendered. They have still not given up their national aspirations. They have still not been absorbed into the kingdom of Jordan. The settlers need something that will continue to enlist the Israeli public in their cause, when most Israelis are deeply preoccupied by their bourgeois lives in pre-1967 Israel, stuck in traffic, planning a vacation, applying for a loan, developing a career, looking for a private math tutor for their kid, wondering what’s for dinner.

The settlers need something to wake people up, to fan the nationalist spark, to inflame admiration for the settlers and instill self-deprecation in their presence. And so the settlers need Palestinian terror. It serves their needs. “You were sacrificed on the altar of the building of Jerusalem, city of the temple,” the rabbi of the settlement of Kochav Hashahar, Ehud Krakower, said in his eulogy for Adiel Kolman, who was murdered in a terror attack in Jerusalem. It’s clear. The settlers are ready to offer human sacrifices on the altar of their revolution.

This is how terror serves the settlers. The mourning for the victims is real, and so is its use to spread their ideology. At funerals of terror victims, and in interviews with their grieving relatives right after an attack is made public, the settlers use terror as a platform to unify the people around them and enlist them to open the revolutionary breach they are working so wondrously hard on. God “is a God of vengeance,” Minister Uri Ariel declared at Kolman’s funeral. “Our revenge is the outpost, the settlement. We must instill the temple in the hearts of the people of Israel.”

The association the settlers create between terror and the settlement project is plain: They see terror as the fuel to promote their messianic worldview. And as tragic as it is, they need this fuel. Without terror, the settlement revolution might lose momentum. Leftists once thought that the worse things, get the better it will be – that from the darkness of the implementation of right-wing ideology, light will emerge: People will realize that compromise with the Palestinians is necessary.

But the leftists, as usual in matters of political tactics, were wrong. It turns out that the worse it gets, the better it is for the right wing. Settlers have a distinct interest in encouraging, inflaming and maintaining terror on a low flame. A little terror is good for them. Lots of terror might work against them.

The right wing’s willingness to keep on offering human sacrifices on the altar of their revolution is bringing them closer to the final victory. The current terror attacks are extracting a price mainly from them. That only increases admiration for them by the Israelis who live within the pre-1967 border – nationalists who consider settlers the pioneers of our generation. Every settler murdered in a terror attack strengthens the public’s commitment to fulfill the settlers’ agenda. It’s a terrible thing to say, but this reality has to be looked at with eyes wide open: The government of Israel has no interest in seeing terror end completely.