Much of the Israeli media has been focused on the disturbing confrontation at the Ephraim Brigade military headquarters, during which angry youth clashed with soldiers and allegedly attacked military vehicles after hearing reports that soldiers would soon be carrying out demolition orders on several Jewish communities in Samaria.

Condemnations were fast in coming following the attack, from generals, public officials and from leading rabbis, all of whom criticized the unprecedented and troubling attack on our own soldiers.

In fact, many of the IDF’s most dedicated and accomplished soldiers live in Judea and Samaria. No, violence against our brothers and sisters is not our way, and yes, we should all resolve our disagreements peacefully. That is the essence of true democracy and freedom of expression in a civil society, especially our tiny Jewish society called Israel. We can ill-afford division and violent strife within our ranks.


However, a few simple questions need to be asked. With all the self-reflection repeatedly demanded of the residents of Judea and Samaria, am I the only person who is profoundly disturbed by what appears to be the political leadership’s ongoing use of division and character assault on an entire segment of the population? Am I the only one who is upset by the bigoted term “hilltop youth,” which is being used to defame an entire population of mostly idealistic, self-sacrificing young people by drawing intentionally repugnant analogies to some of our worst enemies through history? Finally, why is the IDF, which used to be a force of unity in defense of the nation, still being trained (as it was prior to the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria in 2005) to destroy Jewish communities?

If we are to criticize the protesters we must not ignore the full picture. Last week’s clashes were unfortunate, but they did not occur in a vacuum. Defense Minister Ehud Barak continues his cynical use of our military to threaten the expulsion of law-abiding citizens from young, idealistic communities.

His ongoing incitement against “the settlers,” apparently for the purpose of pandering to his rapidly fading voter base, successfully demonizes an entire sector of Israelis – some of the most idealistic, dedicated people in the country.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, too, has courted votes from our communities by muttering praise and support for the settlement movement, but turned his back on us the moment it was politically expedient to do so. Prior to the most recent election, Netanyahu happily came to my town of Shiloh in Samaria and planted a tree at one of the so-called “illegal” hilltop outposts on the eastern side of Gush Shiloh.

These vibrant communities were established with the help of government funding and support and certainly could have been legalized a long time ago through legislation and/or compensation.

But Netanyahu’s visit to Shiloh was during election time, a few short years after the traumatic Gush Katif expulsion, when Netanyahu was desperately trying to restore our trust in order to attract votes to the Likud.

From the prime minister’s chair, however, he has sung an entirely different tune.

Since taking office, we have heard of Netanyahu’s deep desire for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, we have suffered through an imposed building freeze, even in parts of Jerusalem, which was rightly perceived as a hostile choking of our population, and we have been threatened by his repeatedly foolish talk about how “generous” he is prepared to be on the size of a future Palestinian terror state. Has our political leadership learned nothing from the terrible national trauma of the withdrawal from Gaza and its aftermath?

Let us be clear – Netanyahu’s generosity toward the Palestinian Authority, a.k.a. the Hamas and Fatah terrorist organizations, will be at the expense of the brave men and women and the many thousands of Jewish children who have settled the biblical heartland of Israel. However, the rockets that will be fired from the Samarian hills that Netanyahu wants to evacuate will be aimed at Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva and Ben-Gurion Airport.

Yes, Samarian communities like Migron, Ramat Gilad, and Givat Assaf are the front lines of the struggle for the Land of Israel, but we are not the end goal. The decision to agitate and incite against frustrated young idealists instead of implementing Zionist solutions to the legal status of these communities is pushing these young people to the brink of misguided conflict. That is unfortunate and painful, but the real tragedy here is that the Netanyahu–Barak team is failing to learn the sad, yet critical lessons of history.

The writer is a former mayor of Shiloh and president of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund. He is the author of The Islamic Tsunami (Israel & America in the Age of Obama) and can be reached via www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org and www.IslamicTsunami.com

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