Confronting Jewish terrorism

The perpetrators have yet to be found, but the writing on the wall doesn’t leave much room for doubt.

Yishai Schlissel arrested after stabbing six people at the Jerusalem gay pride parade (photo credit: REUTERS)
Yishai Schlissel arrested after stabbing six people at the Jerusalem gay pride parade
(photo credit: REUTERS)
We would be seriously remiss to ignore the series of violent attacks that have taken place in the past few weeks carried out by Jewish terrorists, namely the arson at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes and the more recent firebombing of a Palestinian home in the village of Duma.
The perpetrators have yet to be found, but the writing on the wall doesn’t leave much room for doubt.
The stabbing murder at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade also falls into the category of Jewish terrorism, since hate crimes are a form of terrorism. The perception that there has been an increase in attacks by Jews on Arabs is erroneous. If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that the reality is these attacks are constant.
The Shin Bet has succeeded in thwarting a huge number of planned attacks.
The agency’s active deterrence activity has been so exceptional that it has managed to reduce the number of attacks Jews have carried out against Arabs this year. And yet, there is so much activity bubbling under the surface and it is difficult to catch each case before the perpetrators carry out their plans.
It might seem like a difficult task to compare radical Islamist murderers with Jewish terrorists, but they are more similar than we may think are. During the Shin Bet interrogation of cell members who had carried out the arson at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, numerous documents written by cell members were confiscated. The Shin Bet was familiar with a portion of the papers from previous incidents, and some of the writing had been published online in blogs and public forums. The picture of the activists’ ideology that emerged from this information was incredible – they are interested in restoring the Kingdom of Israel as it was in biblical times.
The Jewish terrorists want to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and to expel or eliminate any idolaters (i.e. non-Jews), to crown a king and restore Israel to its former glory. The idea in and of itself is not new and many cults have in the past and still today champion this idea. The difference is that these young men are willing to take active steps to achieve this goal. The confiscated documents show that the activists were given directives to carry out two actions: first, to make all the Arabs leave Israel, and second, to create an all-out war in the region that will cause such a great shake-up in the region that another Kingdom of Israel could arise to fill the void.
Shin Bet operatives even found precise instructions of how to create a Molotov cocktail and which types of houses and/or mosques they should be thrown into. In their minds, all means are justified and there are no innocent bystanders.
This ideology is an exact parallel of Salafi-jihadist Islam, from which the more modern Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, ISIS and al-Qaida derived.
These Jewish cults currently number a few dozen young men who live in deserted buildings scattered around Judea and Samaria. None of them attends formal classes in any yeshiva and they don’t follow any rabbinical authorities. The Shin Bet can identify each and every one of them and can even point to specific hate crimes that each is connected to. Unfortunately, though, the authorities are having a hard time gathering substantive evidence that would result in a court conviction.
Another issue that is no less critical is that these renegades are backed by settler movement leaders, extremist rabbis and even by a few members of Knesset who represent communities in Judea and Samaria.
These are the very same elected officials who are responsible for formulating legal rulings that make it difficult to bring these renegades to justice. This dissonance is leading to a situation of legal paralysis. In other words, it will be almost impossible to extract ourselves from this legal quandary. The Shin Bet has the necessary skills and a deep enough understanding of the population in question to achieve results and even arrest specific individuals who were caught carrying out illegal activity.
However, the defendants know quite well how weak the courts are, and that they pose little or no threat. In other words, the law has lost all powers of deterrence.
The combination of the courts’ laxity, a lack of deterrence, and the political backing these hilltop youth enjoy, is leading to a deterioration of the situation and is bringing us closer to a third intifada, if we’re lucky, or in the worst case scenario a world war based on religion in the region in which militant extremists win control.
The only way to halt this growing incitement is for the government to take drastic and concrete decisions and punish these individuals.
Prison sentences need to be lengthened, intelligence and law enforcement forces need to be given increased authority, and preventive measures must be allowed. Settler leaders and rabbis who publicly condone this activity need to be held responsible for their words. This would reduce the number and intensity of attacks carried out by hilltop youth.
And the sooner the better.
The writer is a former brigadier- general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.