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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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