Both the Torah and our own long history tell us that our biggest danger to Israel is what is called baseless hatred between Jews. Some even link the destruction of Israel’s first two commonwealths to that baseless hatred, and not without reason.
There is a Jewish community in the hill country of the Benjamin region of Samaria where an incident occurred recently that sheds some light on how dangerous and destructive this is, a place called Eish Kodesh.
Eish Kodesh is the home of some 30 families and about 100 young children. The vast majority of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were built on land that was either vacant, legally purchased by Jews before the ethnic cleansing by Jordan in 1948 or on former Jordanian government-owned land. In the case of Eish Kodesh, the land was vacant and uncontested.
Since Eish Kodesh is near the Arab village of Kusra, there is a history of friction, vandalism, theft and violence.
On January 7th, a large force of border police destroyed the vineyards and orchards belonging to two of the residents of Eish Kodesh that the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria said had been illegally planted, and confiscated or destroyed privately owned farming equipment belonging to two of the residents with a Disruptive Use Order even though there were no conflicting claims. The damages amounted to over 80,000 NIS.
The Likud’s enfant terrible Moishe Feiglin was one of those who donated new trees to replace the uprooted ones.
What happened next is frankly, shocking. Or it should be.
After the destruction at Eish Kodesh, a group of 20 or so young Jewish men, many of whom live in the vicinity decided to take a symbolic hike through the area to show solidarity with their neighbors and to demonstrate to their Arab neighbors that this is their home too, and that they intend to stay. There was no intention of committing any ‘price tag’ attack by any of the group. They claim that similar hike in the same area had happened just the week before without incident, and the Jewish group was unarmed. They also claim that they were in an area not attached to the Arab village of Kusra, nor did they try to enter the village. This version coincides with the testimony of Pinhasi Brown, one of the group.
What happened is that they were ambushed by an assembled mob of Arabs who forcibly dragged them into an unfinished building at a construction site in Kusra, tied them up and began beating them severely with fists, clubs and pipes. Four of the young men had to be hospitalized afterwards. After about a half hour, soldiers from the Tzahal arrived and managed, after another 90 minutes, to get the Jews released. The beatings continued while the soldiers were present, and they reportedly did nothing to stop them.
While some of the Jews were arrested, none of the Arab mob were taken into custody. The Arabs told the IDF that their captives had come to Kusra to commit a ‘price tag’ attack. There’s absolutely no evidence that they did, and considering that this happened at mid-day and none of the group was armed, it’s unlikely that it was. In fact the Arabs of Kusra have a recent history of making false accusations of this kind of thing before.
In view of this, the IDF not intervening to rescue Jews who had been kidnapped and essentially lynched is astounding, as is their failure to take the members of the Arab mob into custody for taking the law into their own hands, if nothing else. Are there two sets of law in Israel now?
Even worse was some of the media reaction. Prominent Channel 10 news editor Dror Zaresky wrote a piece in Maariv-NRG confessing his delight in seeing his fellow Jews beaten and abused:
“The reports in the media and around some of the water coolers,” he wrote, “ran the gamut from just-the-facts to awarding a prize for courage to the Palestinian residents of the village near Shechem who settled a long debt with the youths of the right wing specifically, and with Israel the occupier in general.”
“I will admit the truth: I, too, had to fight the smile that spread on my face when I heard the reports from the village,” Zaresky added. “When I first heard about the ‘price tag’ action gone bad in the wadis of Samaria, I could not hide my smile. Unlike many of my friends in the media, I do not see these actions as disastrous for the country; proportionality was abandoned long ago, in the way we report these incidents of graffiti and flat tires. And yet, there is no doubt in my mind that the right wing criminals are trying to disrupt the lives of many Palestinians – and on the way, they may just succeed in setting fire to our calm neighborhood in the Middle East.”
Fascinating that Zaresky and his friends, whom call themselves journalists would automatically judge their fellow Jews guilty without any evidence at all, especially in view of the Arab residents of Kusra’s history of phony claims. But regardless of what happened, this is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about, While Dror Zaresky is certainly free to hate ‘right wing criminals’ as he puts it, he seems to have no clue about how dangerous this is.
The people who lynched his fellow Jews – and make no mistake, this was a lynching, even if a ‘price tag attack’ was involved – hate Dror Zaresky and his fellow Leftists just as much and would just as soon beat or murder them..just because they’re Jews. Allowing them to do this without any repercussions or legal restraint merely encourages more of the same, and worse.
And at the other end of the spectrum, there are the Jews who were lynched and see themselves as being punished without cause by the legal system, as well as seeing that the Army, or at least this particular unit did nothing to protect them. The ones whom were arrested after being beaten were 15- and 16-year-old youths who had never been in trouble before and had no connection to any ‘price tag’ violence. They are going to have a very different view of things after this. When you send a message that as a resident of Judea and Samaria you’re simply a ‘right wing criminal’ who has no claim to justice, or the protection of the law or the Army, isn’t that going to change your view of both? Are you more likely to take the law into your own hands and distrust the government of Israel or less likely?
This is an example of exactly the kind of baseless hatred the Torah and our sages warn about. And while I personally find it more prevalent on the Left, the other end of the spectrum is by no means innocent of the same thing. They just lack a similar megaphone.
The Dror Zareskys of this world may think that they live in a calm neighborhood, but they delude themselves. Israel is still surrounded by a great many enemies who would cheerfully murder every Jew they could get their hands on, and they wouldn’t bother to make exceptions based on ideology.
During the American Revolution, that great statesman Benjamin Franklin once told a fractious Continental Congress, “Gentlemen, we had better make efforts to hang to together, or assuredly we will all hang separately”.
Unless some of the perpetrators heed that kind of sentiment, Israel may find one day to its horror that baseless hatred is the acid that destroys it. That’s a heavy price tag for what amounts to baseless hatred.