police settler violence 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The violent incident against the Deputy Brigade Commander of Ephraim, placed us,
the heads of the municipalities in Judea and Samaria, in an embarrassing and
frustrating situation. On one hand, the residents of Judea and Samaria are a
pioneering, volunteering group, with high moral standards. In my view, we Judean
and Samarian Israelis are nothing short of an exemplary community.
other hand, there are periodic acts of violence, abuse and/or vandalism
committed by an unidentified handful of people. These incidents cast a pall over
our entire populace. Sometimes these attacks are directed against Arabs,
sometimes against soldiers and sometimes even against Jewish public
I reject the argument that these acts are cultivated on the
ideological platform of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. I also reject
the notion that we can totally wash our hands for the incidents that have
happened in our neck of the woods. As leaders, we are responsible for our
communities. As such, our entire community has spoken with one voice in
condemning the attack on Lt. Col. Tzur Harpaz, the Deputy Brigade Commander of
the Ephraim region. No decent person could defend such criminal
Even worse, I am ashamed. I am embarrassed as an officer in the
IDF reserves, I am ashamed as a citizen who enjoys the protection of the army
day and night, as a Jew in Israel who takes pride in our people's army, and as a
religious person who sees such acts as harming the sanctity of the State Israel.
And it embarrasses me as the head of a municipality in Judea and
But if someone wants to do here systemic therapy, he can see us,
heads of the municipalities, as partners in the struggle. We, the heads of the
local regional councils, must be afforded similar status as those held by mayors
and council heads in other parts of the country. We should not be viewed as
contractors of the Civil Administration, but rather us as heads of independent
municipalities with the ability and authority to make decisions.
PRIMARY victims of these marginal individuals is the overwhelming majority of
Judean and Samarian Israelis who are disgusted by the attacks and who want to
help eradicate these damaging phenomena. But for the past three years we have
been asking for a meeting with the defense minister, who is responsible for
military and civilian affairs in our region, but we have been consistently
Ehud Barak prefers to operate in Judea and Samaria via army
officers rather than the civilian leadership, and he prefers to hand down
diktats to council heads from above. This sterilizes their public standing and
compromises their authority with local residents.
Only cooperation among
the senior officer corps, the Minister of Defense and the local elected
leadership can ensure proper daily administration of our communities and control
of marginal groups.
The media too, has become a dominant player in
harming the image of “settlers” by treating that term as a synonym for
“criminal.” Nothing could be further from the truth. By freely using the term
“settlers” as a catchall, with no distinction made between different communities
or groups of Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, the print and broadcast media
paint an outrageous picture that all residents of our communities are faceless,
unethical terrorists whose sole purpose is to abuse Arabs and steal their
Almost all media coverage regarding settlers is
There is nary a mention of the abundant charitable
organizations that our communities support – many of which do not differentiate
between Jewish or Arab beneficiaries, no mention of community that have been
built on the principle that neighbors have a responsibility to look out for and
to care for one another, no mention of the efforts in safeguarding the
environment. If the media mentions our disproportionately high service in elite
IDF combat units, it is only in the context of a supposed “threat” posed by a
plethora of Orthodox, “settler” officers and combat soldiers. Do a quick Google
search for “Israeli settler” and you will quickly discover just how badly the
print and broadcast media have maligned our community.
Let it be said
loudly, and in the clearest possible terms: The "price tag" individuals are not
a part of us, and we reject their immoral, hateful actions without reservation.
The vast majority of the population and leadership in Judea and Samaria wholly
reject their anarchistic ideology.
Furthermore, the media must play a
constructive role in fighting this phenomenon. These thugs are fueled by the
media coverage they know they will receive and they too provide the media with
To bring an end to this type of anarchistic vandalism,
to an end we must stop the obsessive preoccupation with fanatic marginal groups.
We must stop granting exposure to that which is destructive and harmful. Let the
police do their work, apprehend these criminals and punish them
severely.The writer is an IDF lieutenant colonel and the mayor of Efrat.