They Are Not Masters of the Land

If we want to survive, we must make it clear to them, in actions and not words, that their neighborhoods are not extraterritorial.

A few minutes before he was murdered, the late Yitzhak Rabin told the masses gathered in Malchei Yisrael Square: "Violence is undermining the very foundations of Israeli democracy." Today we can say that ideological violence is undermining the foundations of Israel's existence.

The danger is not merely the exclusion of women, for ultra-Orthodox extremists have also attacked an observant child who used an electric wheelchair (which was halakhically approved ) on Shabbat. They vandalized a Mea She'arim store whose books they didn't like. The danger is not merely "price tag" attacks (right-wing extremists' violence against Palestinians and leftists ); the settlers' leaders are also demanding retroactive legitimization for all outposts built in the West Bank, blatantly flout the law and act in open provocation against the Israel Defense Forces.

The danger is deeper and wider. To paraphrase Joseph's words to Pharaoh, "Pharaoh's dream is one." We can say that all these incidents are related and reflect evil and deep sickness in Israeli society.

This sickness, which harbors real danger to Israel, is the rise of ideological groups that do not accept the authority of the state's institutions and do not see themselves bound to its laws. They are convinced that their faith is the only pure truth, and are resolved to impose it forcibly on Israeli society. These viewpoints include both religious extremism and the "modesty" beliefs of certain circles in the ultra-Orthodox world. They include both the messianic ideology of groups within the settlements, and the anarchists and extreme left's denial of the legitimacy of the Jewish people's nation state.

The anti-Zionist Neturei Karta's war cry - "We do not believe in the heretics' government and do not heed their laws" - has, in recent years, become the motto of quite a few groups from all parts of society.

These groups are outside the Israeli consensus and constitute a minority in the population, but to describe them as a "small minority" is wrong and misleading. We are dealing with large minorities, who in view of the state's incompetence and unwillingness to enforce its authority on all its citizens, are growing apace.

This is the most critical danger of all: accepting these groups and acts, whether directly or indirectly, by action or omission, in silence or by turning a blind eye. This acceptance is reflected in the police's weakness and incompetence, the state prosecution's feebleness, the IDF's hesitancy, the courts' unforgivable lenience. Most of all, it is reflected in the cowardice of so many in the political leadership, who prefer to serve cynical and populist political and personal interests over the nation's good.

There is no need to be overimpressed by the denunciations, which are in part a hypocritical masquerade. Anyone who denounces the rioters while in the same breath understands them - his denunciation is worthless. Israel claims that no wrong or injustice can justify terror. Similarly, no wrong - real or imagined - can justify violence, rioting or lawbreaking. Understanding is the beginning of justification that ends with acceptance, and is the root of all evil.

The state's president grasped the heart of the matter when he cried: "They are not masters of the land!" This is the whole story. These groups think they are the masters of the land. If we want to survive, we must make it clear to them, in actions and not words, that their neighborhoods - whether in Beit Shemesh or Ashdod, Mea She'arim, Yitzhar or Bil'in - are not extraterritorial, they will not be masters of the land and the state will take all the necessary means to enforce its sovereignty on them.

Read this article in Hebrew.