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For all anyone knows, Julian Soufir, the French Jewish immigrant who killed a Jerusalem Arab cab driver last week, may really be as crazy as he seems. His lawyer says he "speaks to ghosts and goblins that dictate his life." He made weird faces in court to the TV cameras. Maybe it's not an act, maybe he truly is a nutcase who just got it into his head to kill an Arab.
He's not the first. Supposedly Alan Goodman, the guy who went up to the Temple Mount 25 years ago and starting shooting Palestinians, was crazy. There's strong evidence that Noam Friedman, who did the same thing at the Hebron market 10 years ago, was crazy.
It's not that these guys were stark raving mad, but that they were somewhat off, not exactly normal, a little too tightly wound, kind of obsessed. They'd never done anything like this before - they weren't career criminals, they didn't have violent backgrounds. They just had something weird going on inside, they couldn't take it, and they finally cracked.
If these killers weren't insane, they were at least temporarily insane when they were shooting those Arabs, goes the popular theory. If they weren't crazy as a rule, they'd gone crazy of late.
The same thing was said about Ami Popper, who opened fire at a crowd of Arab laborers in Rishon Lezion in 1990, killing seven of them.
And about Eden Natan-Zada, the young IDF deserter who shot up the bus in Shfaram during the Gaza disengagement, killing four Israeli Arabs.
And about Asher Weisgan, the settler who killed four Palestinian laborers he'd known for years, also supposedly in protest against the disengagement.
And about Yona Avrushmi, who didn't kill an Arab but rather a Jewish leftist, Emil Grunzweig, at a Peace Now rally against the first Lebanon War.
NOW WE'VE got Julian Soufir, seemingly another Jewish nutter who freaked out and killed an Arab. This, according to the Israeli consensus, is not politics we're talking about, it's insanity. The murder doesn't say anything about a political movement, or a political ideology, it only says something about one crazy guy. No larger meanings should be drawn from it, we are given to understand.
But my question is this: When a Jew goes crazy and gets the idea that he's got to kill people of a certain political or national stripe, why does he always go after Arabs - or, in Avrushmi's case, after "Arab-loving" Jews?
Why do you never hear of an Israeli Jew going crazy and opening fire on West Bank settlers? Or on IDF soldiers? Or on a right-wing politician?
The cops said Soufir killed Taysir Karaki for "nationalistic motives"; why is it that whenever an insane Jewish murderer has political motives, the motives are always "nationalistic"? Why do you never hear of an insane Jewish murderer killing for "universalistic motives"? Or "binationalistic motives"? Or "multiculturalistic motives"?
Why, in short, are there are no crazy left-wing Jewish murderers? Why does every single one of the mad, or seemingly mad, Jewish assassins in this country believe in an overheated brand of one, and only one, political ideology: nationalism?
Why, in other words, do they always happen to belong to the most extreme end of one, and only one, side of the Israeli political spectrum - the Right? Why do they never belong to the Left?
I THINK the reason is pretty clear: Because when crazy people get attracted to a political ideology, they're attracted to ideologies that are black-and-white; that divide the world into Us vs Them, with Us being good and Them being bad; and that preach the use of force to settle the conflict.
That is a description of right-wing nationalism, in Israel and elsewhere. It is a completely one-sided way of looking at the world, it needs enemies to survive, and it inherently becomes more vehement, more extreme, as events move forward.
What passes in Israel for the "Left," on the other hand, is really not a leftist movement at all, but a centrist movement. It doesn't view either Israel or the Arabs are being all good or all bad. It sees right and wrong on both sides, and seeks a compromise between the two sides. It tends toward diplomacy over force to settle conflicts with the Arabs, but sometimes it chooses force.
What sort of violent meshuggener is going to have anything to do with that? All that hemming and hawing, even-handed judgment, weighing of opposing claims, all that crap. Which psychopath has the patience?
IN THIS country, if you're a demented Jew and you've decided you have to kill somebody to save the world, or save Israel, or save anything, you're going to be listening to political messages from only one place - the outer reaches of the right wing, almost certainly, as in Soufir's case, the religious right wing. And the people you are going to kill are going to be either Arabs or Jewish peaceniks.
If, on the other hand, you've decided that the Jews are the problem, or that Israel is the problem, and you have to kill somebody to solve it, where do you go for inspiration? Not to anyplace or anybody on the Israeli Left. While there are marginal Israeli Jewish movements such as Gush Shalom that always oppose Israel in its conflicts with Arabs, these movements are not violent. They don't commit violence and they don't speak for violence, ever.
The only movements around here that are violently anti-Israel are Arab: the Galilee-based "northern faction" of the Islamic Movement and, of course, any number of Palestinian organizations in Gaza and the West Bank.
I'm sure they attract plenty of crazies who want to kill Jews. If that's what a Jewish maniac wants to do, then that's who he has to listen to, that's where he has to go: to the extremes of the Arab side. There's nothing for him anywhere on the Israeli Left.
NOW DON'T get me wrong - I'm not claiming that all extreme Jewish right-wingers are mentally disturbed assassins. What I am pointing out, rather, is the fact that all mentally disturbed Jewish assassins are extreme right-wingers.
Incidentally, all the perfectly sane Jewish assassins - such as the 1980s Jewish Terror Underground, Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir - are also extreme right-wingers.
As for Julian Soufir, although it seems he's one of the crazies, not one of the sane ones, we still don't know for sure. The trial hasn't started yet, we don't know enough about his mental state at the time he slit the cabdriver's throat. But about Soufir's politics, there was never any doubt. The moment we heard the news of a "Jewish assassin," we knew.