Talk of Peace Is Futile Without Regime Change

Even closed eyes can see the return of the alliance that led to Rabin’s murder: Netanyahu and the inciting rabbis.

Sefi Rachlevsky
Sefi Rachlevsky
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special cabinet meeting marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, May 28, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special cabinet meeting marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, May 28, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Sefi Rachlevsky
Sefi Rachlevsky

An Israeli folk tale tells of a truck that sought to bring a water cistern from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As it was ascending a hill en route, the truck went over a bump and the cistern fell off. But when the truck reversed to pick it up, it fell into the cistern. The water cistern Israel carried until it fell into it is the occupation and the messianic, racist theology it instilled.

Ministers from Habayit Hayehudi rushed Ze’ev Hever to the decisive meetings of the diplomatic-security cabinet this week. Hever is a terrorist who was convicted in the case of the Jewish Underground, a terrorist organization that deliberately murdered innocents. Another terrorist convicted in this case was Natan Natanzon. Natanzon is a top adviser to Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett.

It gets worse. Menachem Livni, who led this terrorist organization, testified that the person who ordered the group’s attacks, aimed them against innocents and pressured him to carry out the specific terror attack that led to his capture – the attempted blowing up of six buses full of passengers – was Rabbi Dov Lior. Lior is Habayit Hayehudi’s most influential authority figure. He is the one who chose Housing Minister Uri Ariel.

Lior also deemed Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron in 1994, “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.” Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – knowing full well who Lior is, including from the head of the Shin Bet – termed him “the elite unit that leads the nation of Israel.”

And indeed, he does lead it. What has been published about the religious/ultra-Orthodox background of those who burned a teenager alive isn’t surprising. The “elite unit” Netanyahu praised has taken over every theological post in the establishment.

The secretary-general of World Bnei Akiva – a religious youth movement that used to be moderate – demanded this week that Israeli soldiers be turned into an army of revenge and not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins. The head of the Jewish Identity Administration that Bennett established, a former IDF chief rabbi, demanded “state vengeance.” Fully 52 percent of Jewish first-graders study in religious or ultra-Orthodox schools, and most are imbibing the theology that “you [the Jews] are called man, and the nations of the world are not call man.”

At the demonstration where those who burned a boy alive met up, demonstrators shouted the chant that has taken over the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team: “The Jew is a great soul; the Arab is a son of a bitch.” This isn’t a superficial slogan. In the theology of the generation trained by the establishment’s education system, Jews are told that non-Jews have no soul. Non-Jews have only the same animal spirit that beasts do. Only Jews have a truly human soul, to which the commandment “do not murder” applies. It’s not by chance that the influential ultra-Orthodox kabbalist Rabbi David Batzri said, “The Arabs are a nation of donkeys. They are Satan. They are donkeys and beasts.”

And who will change this? The education minister – who was appointed thanks to secular votes – who ruled that it’s forbidden to sell an apartment to Arabs? And he even based himself on the Biblical verse “Thou shalt show no mercy to them” (Deuteronomy 7:2) – the religious commandment of this generation, which has three elements: It’s forbidden to show favor to non-Jews; it’s forbidden to give them a foothold in the land; and it’s forbidden to pity them.

The era of self-deception has ended. This is the face of the regime. This is the face of those who control most of the regime’s education and religion. A rabbi like Shmuel Eliyahu, who rails against selling or renting to Arabs and encourages violence against them, has been promoted to the role of spiritual guide to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Those in denial ought to take a look at senior government officials. The deputy Knesset speaker on behalf of the coalition is Moshe Feiglin, sentenced to jail for sedition during the wave of incitement that led to the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party holds the ministry responsible for the police was convicted of assaulting and beating a minor. Lior’s emissary, MK Orit Strock, condoned the actions of her son, who was imprisoned for kidnapping and beating an Arab youth, stripping him naked and seriously injuring him. And at the head of this government of people who encourage terror stands the man who starred at the rallies known for their chants of “With blood and fire we’ll expel Rabin.”

Even closed eyes can see the return of the alliance that led to Rabin’s murder: Netanyahu and the inciteful rabbis. This is the alliance that sent Israel to the bottom of the cistern. Anyone who reads the prime minister’s Facebook page will be shocked by the incitement, which looks like it came from a teenage Kahanist.

Any talk of peace is meaningless and unimportant if a complete upheaval doesn’t take place in Israel – one that will get rid of the spirit of Netanyahu and his elite theological unit, the religion of Rabbi Lior. In the balance rests the dream of generations for an enlightened state, a dream that’s a moment away from being extinguished from within.

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