Meir Ettinger attends a remand hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth..
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Although suspected Jewish militant and administrative detainee Meir Ettinger was denied leave from prison to be at his son’s brit milah, the celebrations at the event were nonetheless raucous and the mood upbeat. The dancing was wild, the beat from the drums was rhythmic and the unkempt pe’ot, side-locks, typical of the hard-right youth and settler activists were flying in all directions.
The numbers of attendees was swelled by the invitation of the Ettinger family to the general public to come to the event following the rejection of Ettinger’s appeal to the High Court, with perhaps 200 people accepting the invitation. And the brit milah was performed in the presence of a veritable Who’s Who of the Israeli hard-right, including the militant spiritual leader Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, Bayit Yehudi MK Betzalel Smotrich, Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, the extremist leader of the radical Lehava anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization, and hardline Temple Mount activist Noam Federman.
It was to Ginsburg, a radical figure with far-right views revered by militant Jewish activists, that the duty of sandak, or godfather, was given. Ginsburg was indicted in 2003 for incitement to racism for comments he made to the media praising Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians in the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994, although the charges were eventually dropped after he issued a statement of clarification. The rabbi has a series of other extremist comments and publications to his name.
Ettinger’s son was named Netzah Benjamin, after his uncle Rabbi Benjamin Ze’ev Kehane, the leader of the far-right Kehana Hai political party who was killed along with his wife, in a terror attack in 2000. Ettinger, who has been under administrative detention for close to eight months, is himself the grandson of the far-right leader Rabbi Meir Kahana, who founded Kach, the predecessor of Kahana-Hai, and who was slain in a political assassination.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
after the event, Ginsburg accused the Supreme Court of being “closed off” and “afraid” by not allowing Ettinger to attend the brit milah ceremony.
“It shows that there is fear of the truth, that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people,” said the rabbi. “The Jewish people are going out from exile and grief, and there is a fear of this,” he asserted. Evidence of the militant attitude prevalent at the event was readily noticeable by the radical messages printed on the t-shirts of many of the young attendees, such as “Jews buy from Jews,” “Hebrew labor is true love of one’s fellow Jew,” Jews, let’s be victorious,” and similar slogans.
Netanel, a young man who came to the brit to support the Ettinger family, deplored the decision of the High Court and of Ettinger’s administrative detention, and said that the institution, and other components of the state was “rotten” and needed to be disposed of. “The High Court is a mafia, they do what ever they feel like. They don’t even adhere to their own laws,” he averred. “They want to take control here, they think it will help them if they make a dictatorship here, but it wont help them. The truth will be victorious in the end,” continued Netanel, who used to live in an unauthorized outpost of the Mitzpe Yericho settlement until the dwelling was destroyed and he was forcibly evacuated by the security services.
“His grandfather [Meir Kehana] was active in trying to fix things, the Supreme Court, the government, everything that is rotten here. If you have a rotten tomato what do you do? You throw it away, because if you don’t it will make everything else rotten. Rabbi Kahana tried to deal with this, but it’s not easy. They’re holding on strongly.”