Remember the Hilltop Settler Youth? Look Where They Are Now

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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A demonstration at the wedding of Mahmoud Mansour and Morel Malka in 2014
A demonstration at the wedding of Mahmoud Mansour and Morel Malka in 2014Credit: Ofer Vaknin
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

“We are still at war, and she’s marrying a member of the enemy people,” said Bentzi Gopstein, the founder of Lehava, a militant anti-Arab organization, explaining his opposition to the marriage of Mahmoud Mansour and Morel Malka, which took place in August 2014 under threats to their lives. At the time, Gopstein was considered an extremist curiosity, dangerous perhaps, but not a representative of “the people.” A month earlier the murder-by-burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir had taken place, and then, too, the prevailing attitude was that this was a deviant act committed by deviants.

The founder of the inflammatory, McCarthyite organization Im Tirtzu, Erez Tadmor, poured venom on Haaretz when it dared to write in an editorial (July 7, 2014), that “Abu Khdeir’s murderers are not ‘Jewish extremists.’ They are descendants and builders of a culture of hate and vengeance which is being nurtured and fertilized by the guides of the ‘Jewish State.’” Tadmor accused the newspaper of blood libel and manipulative exploitation of “the guilt of individual Jews – a total of six – to convict millions of people, most of Israeli society, of responsibility for the murder, in order to paint all of us, those of us who aren’t leftist enough, as accomplices to the murder.”

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Remember the hilltop youth? The wild weeds? Those who multiplied like crabgrass? Now they are the landscape of our country. Last week it became clear, if it wasn’t already, that these marginal curiosities are those who were “shocked” by the lynching and violent attacks in Jaffa, Ramle, Bat Yam and other cities. What horror gripped the Jewish public, what tut-tutting of the national tongue was heard throughout the land. How is it possible that we – yes, this time they spoke of all of us and not of individuals – had gotten to this situation? What didn’t we know? What didn’t we understand?

Large posters praised the close cooperation between Arab doctors and nurses and their Jewish colleagues, refreshing statistics noted the integration of young Arabs into Jewish industries and the 70,000 Arabs students in higher education, and let’s not forget the budgetary packages allocated to the Arab community and the historic breakthrough made by Benjamin Netanyahu when he started to conduct political negotiations with Mansour Abbas of the United Arab List and “made the Arabs kosher” as a legitimate political partner.

Suddenly forgotten was Bezalel Smotrich’s immortal post, in which he explained, “My wife is absolutely not a racist, but after giving birth she wants rest, not the mass gatherings common among the families of Arab new mothers.” The racist comments by those lawmakers who make sure to label Arab lawmakers “terror supporters” seemingly disappeared. A thick carpet covers the nation-state law, whose sole purpose was to grant the Chosen People a monopoly on the land. Where can we find mixed Upper Nazareth, now masquerading as the Jewish Nof Hagalil, and what about the parks and public pools where Arabs are refused entry, and the more than 900 Israeli communities in which good, pleasant, well-dressed Arabs, who have integrated nicely into Israeli high-tech, cannot live because they’re Arabs?

Israeli high schoolers should learn about the Nakba, offers Aluf Benn (Haaretz, April 29). That’s right and proper, but what will they do with this expanded knowledge, when they are not permitted to study the poems of Mahmoud Darwish, when no one brings them to Arab museums, when field trips to Arab towns are not part of the annual trip calendar, when what’s happening in the schools and clinics of Gaza have nothing to do with them, because that’s where “the enemy people” lives?

It’s very easy and deceptive to talk about what’s being called apartheid in the territories, as if we aren’t talking about an occupied area but a part of the State of Israel, and when in the State of Israel itself there’s an apartheid culture toward its Arab citizens. True, they have homes and cars and computers, and they don’t have to worry about the immigration police, but there is a knee on their necks, held there by a frightened, vengeful Jewish solidarity, whose source is the masters’ fear.

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