The Toxic Roots of Jewish Terror

The religious Zionist's denial to categorize Jewish terror as such fans the flames of terrorism in the name of Judaism and a Jewish state.

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Members of the Dawabsheh family where their kin were killed by a firebomb, Duma, West Bank, December 3, 2015.
Members of the Dawabsheh family where their kin were killed by a firebomb, Duma, West Bank, December 3, 2015. Credit: Moti Milrod

The longer the Duma arson suspects remain in custody, the greater the pressure from their friends and families on the Shin Bet security service’s Jewish division, to the point of reckless delegitimization of the state. That unruliness is perhaps to be expected, but its full dimensions bears examination.

The people who have the most trouble understanding this are members of the religious Zionist community, including rabbis in the settlements. Most members of this community, which of course cannot imagine itself supporting murder and violent acts, are shocked and terrified by any connection between it and the hard anarchist core of the “hilltop youth.” But in fact this community includes much broader and more complex groups of adults.

This misunderstanding requires clarification for a number of reasons, starting with the demand by spokesmen and supporters of Jewish terror that they be recognized as the pure, brave and just successors of Gush Emunim.

“What happened to the religious-national public?” Elyashiv Har-Shalom goads his parents’ generation in his blog. To his mind, that generation is indifferent to the arrests and interrogations.

“Where are their teachers? Where are all those who know full well the work of protest, the blocking of busy roads with sweeping song and faith in the justness of the path?”

Har-Shalom says his camp does not consist of “wild weeds,” but rather is the result of the great education at its core.

He accuses the founders, who raised their children on the heritage of the first settlements of Sebastia and Beit Hadassah in Hebron: “Your children, your next generation, the sons of your rabbis, have been in custody for weeks in the Shin Bet basements ... they are strong, don’t worry, they received a good education, but what about you?”

Rabbi Yossi Elitzur, a co-author of “The King’s Torah,” blasts the rabbis of Samaria for saying — (“out of fear of the master”) — after protesting the arrests, that they hoped the Duma murderers would be caught. Do they? Is it their hope that “these foes from the Shin Bet will manage to destroy lives and put Jews who could not remain silent in the face of bloodshed into prison for many years”?

Could anything be clearer? On Facebook pages with names like “We want a Jewish state” or “Back to the (Temple) Mount,” independent news bulletins such as “The Jewish Voice” and movements like Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh’s Derech Chaim, which has thousands of members, the calls are no less clear. Some are even more clear, such as the statement, “We do not know who did this and it is clear it was not the arrestees, but it was certainly a mitzvah (December 3, “We want a Jewish state”), and the choruses of Kahane Lives and Lehava.

The racism and the violence take various forms, but the idea is one: a pure state of Jewish law, a kingdom of faith at any price and right now. It is inconceivable that the religious Zionist public does not see the spring that feeds these toxic roots: from Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who described the restraining order issued in 2013 barring Boaz Albert from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, where he lives, as an “order against the Zionism of God”; to Rabbi Dov Lior, who claimed during a visit in support of Albert that the Israeli government is restricting Jews as the British Mandate did and to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed (“the chutzpah of summoning rabbis for questioning”), “The King’s Torah,” “Baruch Hagever” and the like.

No doubt about it, these events are opening a chasm in the religious Zionist community, but the fear of betraying the “sector” and the panic over what is being revealed dictate silence and denial, which in turn empower the supporters of Jewish terror and crown them as the new leaders of the entire public. And woe to us, silence is an admission of guilt.