Preventing the blaze that could consume us all

The government must take aggressive steps and put in place all the operative and legal measures necessary to act as it would against any type of terrorism.‏

Police arrest Meir Ettinger (photo credit: TAZPIT)
Police arrest Meir Ettinger
(photo credit: TAZPIT)
All it takes is two people to set the whole Middle East ablaze, says former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon.
His comments came after last week’s firebomb attack that left a Palestinian baby dead and his parents and four-year-old brother severely injured.
It was a tragedy that shocked the Israeli public and jolted the government and security forces into action.
The Shin Bet released manifestos written by Jewish extremists supporting violent overthrow of the secular system of government, seeking to replace it with a Jewish theocracy, but such manifestos are hardly new and neither for that matter are firebomb attacks on Palestinian homes – over a dozen such incidents have occurred over the past couple of years without anyone being brought to justice.
One of those manifestos was by Meir Ettinger, a grandson of the late Meir Kahane, who is now being held in administrative detention. “The ideological foundations of the Zionist state are built like that of any other nation and not for the Kingdom of Israel,” writes Ettinger who goes on to describe how to undermine the state and its ability to rule.
Part of Ettinger’s “plan” is to carry out violent acts against Palestinians and lead to chaos and anarchy that would topple the government. “It’s much easier to destroy the state and rebuild it than to renovate it,” he writes.
The hard core of militants and those who sympathize with them don’t have the power in any way to threaten the state, and the settlement movement couldn’t survive for a day without the economic support of the government or the protection of the IDF. The danger they present lies precisely in their ability to spark a fire that could spread out of control.
“Before threatening the stability of the regime they throw a few firebombs in a village and cause a violent reaction leading to a circle of intensifying violence and chaos,” says the Hebrew University’s Gideon Aran, an expert on Jewish extremism.
“They dream of chaos,” he says “and to create chaos all you need is a small cell. A couple of murders and you spark an intifada and that serves their purpose; they want an intifada.”
The problem though is not just with that hard core that uses violence. They express a wider sentiment, as telling a truth that no one dares to say, a truth that permeates as far as the political echelon where some feel that sentiment year round and when violence occurs rush to condemn it.
It is that pool of sympathizers that those using violence seek to galvanize by creating cataclysmic conflict that would force them to come down on one side, to take action.
Despite dozens of “price tag” attacks – that have seen arrests few and far between – casualties have been low, but as last week’s attack showed it is only mere chance that more have not been killed. Firebombs were also thrown into a neighboring building whose residents were not home. One can only imagine the consequences had there been several casualties. The ideology expressed by Ettinger and his like makes it clear they will eventually succeed in creating a cataclysm if left unchecked.
The government’s condemnation of last week’s attack as terrorism and its promise to hunt down the perpetrators are welcome.
But in the face of a twisted and depraved ideology it must take aggressive steps and put in place all the operative and legal measures necessary to act as it would against any type of terrorism.
Those measures should include steps against those that provide the ideological motivations for acts of terror. As Ayalon puts it, “Where there is no water, there are no weeds.”
The government must above all act consistently, unequivocally and without respite, not just when a horrendous act pushes the problem into the public spotlight.
In dealing with Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank, Israeli security sources like to use the term “mowing the grass” as a metaphor for eradicating terrorist networks before they have had time to take root. When it comes to Jewish terrorism, the grass has been left to grow out of control for too long.