Rattling the Cage: In the garden of bigotry and extremism

Rattling the Cage In th

November 4, 2009 22:35
4 minute read.

Another right-wing Orthodox Jewish killer has come out of the woodwork, which means, again, that the right-wing Orthodox Jewish camp's stock is going up while that of its opposite number, the secular left, is going down. This is the way it works now: An "ideological" settler goes on a bombing, shooting and stabbing spree against Palestinians, gays, a left-wing professor, a Christian missionary, maybe a couple of policemen and who knows who else. Immediately, the Orthodox Jewish right professes shock and starts praising itself to the skies, condemning the media and the country's half-dozen or so leftists for incitement, while intimidating everybody else into nodding their heads. The people in Shvut Rahel, home of confessed murderer Ya'acov Teitel, suspected accomplice Yosef Shpinoza, former Kach activist Avraham Richland and the late Asher Weisgan (who killed four Palestinian laborers in 2005) are absolutely stunned. How could it happen - here, of all places? Ya'acov was such a nice, unassuming, quiet guy. He was always helping people. Of course we condemn the murders, what a question! And all these "attempts by the Left to take advantage of the situation for incitement against all of the settlers are ugly and pathetic." The more you think about it, the more you realize how wonderful Shvut Rahel and the other Jewish communities in the liberated territories are. "The residents of Binyamin in general, and Shvut Rahel in particular, are a high-quality, moral and law-abiding public," said Avi Roeh of the Binyamin Regional Council. And not just the settlers, but all the right-wing Orthodox who identify with them. "The religious Zionist movement believes in abiding by the law and denouncing all violence," said MK Zevulun Orlev of the Habayit Hayehudi party. Wisely, he urged the public and media "to refrain from cynically taking advantage of the investigation in order to place labels on the entire religious Zionist sector." IT TOOK a while, but I think that message is finally getting through. It used to be that a lot of Israelis thought there was some sort of connection between right-wing Orthodox Jewish killers and their environment. There was a lot of that sort of talk in the early 1980s after the Jewish Terror Underground was exposed. There was a lot of it after Baruch Goldstein. And after Yigal Amir. But after the expulsion in Gush Katif proved that the settlers were a persecuted community, and after the second intifada proved that leftists have no moral right to open their mouths, the truth is coming out. The truth is winning by a knockout. Natan Eden-Zada, the Kahanist who killed four Arabs and wounded about 20 others on a bus in Shfaram during the expulsion, was declared a "wild weed" - and nobody argued. Asher Weisgan, another wild weed - no argument. Ya'acov Teitel, yet another wild weed - no argument. Here's an Israeli voice of moderation, a voice of experience and authority on these matters - Yisrael Hasson, a Kadima MK and former deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) - talking about the Teitel case: "We must not besmirch an entire populace... sometimes wild weeds grow in a well-tended garden." Exactly. Wild weeds in a well-tended garden. All of them - Teitel, Weisgan, Eden-Zada, Goldstein, Amir, the Jewish Terror Underground, the Jewish murderers whom the Shin Bet says are still at large, the masked settlers and "hilltop youth" with their guns and clubs - they're all exceptions that prove the rule. And the rule is that when it comes to values, you can't beat the right-wing Orthodox, least of all the jewels in the crown like Shvut Rahel. Values, values, values, values, values - do these people talk about anything else, do they offer Israel anything but a model of a society based on values, Jewish values, the most valuable Jewish values? We're finally seeing the light. We're also finally seeing that all the leftists, all the elites who criticize the settlers - you know, Kobi, Moshik, Dafna and one or two of their friends - are the true danger, the genuine threat. They're the real Jewish terrorists. After the Rabin assassination, there were a couple of national religious types, Rabbi Yehuda Amital and Yoel Bin-Nun, who were actually saying that Yigal Amir wasn't such an exception that proved the rule, that there really was something wrong in the ideological community that helped produce the killer, something that had to be fixed. There are even people who say that before the Six Day War and the settler movement, the national religious camp was known for its political moderation, that a lot of them were even doves. Orthodox Jewish peaceniks - in Israel! Can you imagine? Try finding one today. Today there's nobody with any influence, not among the religious and not among the secular, who will say that the reason every single Jewish political murder is committed by one and only one kind of wild weed - the right-wing Orthodox kind - is that the garden is lousy with bigotry and extremism. In the ideological settlements, parts of Jerusalem and elsewhere, Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 men and boys at prayer, is revered as a martyr. The members of the Jewish Terror Underground, those who killed and maimed innocent Palestinians and plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock, are seen as heroes, pioneers. Ya'acov Teitel of Shvut Rahel is not the exception that proves the rule. Instead, he is the latest, but not the last, in a long line of extreme but authentic products of an environment that's spiritually ill, at times even toxic.

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