Yitzhar rabbi: Government, IDF mostly to blame for settler violence against the military

Rabbi calls for a halt to attacks against the IDF, but says important to note the government actions that led to the violence.

IDF post ransacked near Yitzhar (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
IDF post ransacked near Yitzhar
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
The immoral policies of the government and the army are mainly responsible for the attacks by settlers against the military, the dean and founder of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, said an article he published on the Web on Friday.
Soldiers, the police, and state workers should refuse to carry out any immoral orders or rules issued by the government or the army, Ginsburgh wrote.
He has called for a halt to attacks against the IDF, but added that it is important to focus attention on the government actions that led to the violence rather than on its perpetrators.
“Firstly, I am distressed by any clash of Jews with Jews – between soldiers and settlers – ‘We are all sons of one man,” Ginsburgh wrote.
Still, he added, “It must be stated clearly that the guilty party for this situation is the establishment, which has been behaving with aggression and brute force toward Jews, yet with magnanimousness and lenience toward enemies of the Jewish people.”
He cited the government actions that he believes sparked the violence against the IDF in Yitzhar, near Nablus, last month, that led the army to take the unusual step of commandeering his yeshiva to house a Border Police battalion.
Ginzburgh’s list included the cabinet’s decision in July 2013 to release Palestinian terrorists convicted for killing Israelis in order to get the PLO to return to the negotiating table.
Security forces, Ginsburgh said, have focused too much attention on hate crimes and too little energy on halting attacks by Palestinians against Jews that include throwing stones and firebombs.
“On the one hand, they do not deal harshly with the hundreds of terrorist activities that take place each week (stone-throwing, Molotov cocktails, and even shooting attacks), and even release convicted terrorists without getting anything in exchange, while on the other hand, they define as ‘terrorism’ and ‘hate crimes’ trivial acts of protest (even arresting minors for spraying graffiti on walls, etc.),” he said.
In addition, the government prevents Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and demolishes homes, while turning a bind eye to illegal Palestinian building, Ginsburgh said.
“Under these circumstances, an accusing finger must first be pointed at those who are truly responsible for this deterioration and a demand made that they improve their behavior regarding these issues,” he said.
“We should not ignore the positive actions that the military forces take in defending the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, which are certainly praiseworthy, however neither can we gloss over our harsh criticism for the injustices they are responsible for,” Ginsburgh wrote.
“When the government behaves in a corrupt, distorted manner, the task of rabbis and community leaders is to state this clearly and unequivocally,” he said.
“Similarly, the rabbis and community leaders should fill their role as a moral and Torah-oriented conscience, acting as a comptroller for the government, and even demand that every soldier, policeman, or state worker take personal responsibility to refuse to carry out orders and instructions that contradict the Torah’s morality,” he said.
If rabbis take a stronger stand against immoral IDF and government actions, young people will not feel that its their responsibility to halt such activity, Ginsburgh wrote.
He said has spoken to teens and young adults about the importance of fighting injustice with non-violence. It is better to “rise above the forceful combat that the government is driving at and to focus our efforts and our revolutionary spirit in active efforts of spokesmanship, uniting to achieve a genuine change in public life in the Land of Israel,” he said.
Ginsburgh issued his opinion in the aftermath of a series of violent incidents in Yitzhar early last month, including when Jewish extremists twice slashed the tires of IDF jeeps parked in the settlement.
The IDF in turn demolished four unauthorized structures in the community. Six officers were lightly wounded in the clashes that ensued. A group of some 50 settlers and extremists then destroyed an army post in Yitzhar that housed reservist soldiers.
The Yitzhar community last week took a stand against violence toward the IDF. More than 50 percent of the 1,172-member community, located in the Samaria region of the northern West Bank, voted against such violence.
The Yitzhar secretariat organized the vote and threatened to quit if the community failed to take a strong stand against violence.
Both the vote and Ginsburgh’s statement focused on violence against the IDF and did not address the issue of “price tag” attacks of retribution against Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.