Recently, we experienced a strategic attack in the depths of the settlement. “Intelligence collectors” from extreme leftist organizations set out to identify weak spots in the settlement’s soft belly. Their commando unit’s point-by-point strategic actions set off a chain of events that caused general and specific damage. The leftist organizations’ actions are an extreme antithesis to the lovers of the Land of Israel, myself included, who are investing much time and effort to build a stable reality in this region that will lead to the transformation of areas in Judea and Samaria into sovereign territory of the State of Israel and bring an end to any fantasy that parts of Eretz Israel will be given over to future Arab control.
Extreme leftist organizations, mostly funded by foreign countries, are working on opposite goals – to diminish any hopes of this land staying under Israel’s control. They continuously work to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. They desire to abolish any Israeli grip on Judea and Samaria, they want to damage not only the legitimacy of Jewish settlements, but furthermore, they want to prove that the IDF can’t be a sovereign in the territory, and that the IDF can’t even provide basic personal security to non-Israeli residents under its responsibility.
A few days ago, the “commando unit” of a radical left-wing organization, Rabbis for Human Rights, arrived to help a Palestinian family harvest grapes in the village of Burin, located at the foot of the Yitzhar settlement in Samaria. According to various reports, it was alleged that an 80-year-old Jewish man was brutally attacked with iron rods by a group of 30 masked boys who then left him lying wounded before fleeing the scene to set fires to fields around him.
Following the alleged attack chaos ensued which included a 14 year-old boy, suspected of partaking in the arson, being violently arrested in one of the hills near Yitzhar and tires of an IDF patrol jeep being slashed at the hill. Due to the chaos, the commanding officer of the central region visited the site of the events and declared the area a closed military zone and stationed a Border Police platoon there to prevent entry of anyone who did not live there. Three unauthorized buildings were demolished by the police and a tent belonging to the Border Police was burned down by one of the boys fleeing the scene. And even still, events continue to unfold.
Rabbis for Human Rights can pat themselves on the back for achieving their goals even beyond their expectations. They discovered scattered in various places in Samaria small “incendiary devices” that, if set off, could cause a minor explosion or even set off a chain of explosions. This discovery has left a bad impression about “settlers,” to say the least.
These potential “explosive materials” scattered in various places are the high school-aged boys who have been abandoned by their families around Israel, and who now roam the Samaria hills without supervision or proper guidance. Without parental guidance these teens are vulnerable and are prime candidates for getting into all kinds of trouble. The left-wing activist “rabbis” didn’t really have to work too hard to get the attention of these boys. They simply set themselves up as a target and waved a red flag at a bull ready and waiting to charge, so to speak.
Local Israeli communities can’t afford to ignore the phenomenon of these at-risk teens drifting around our towns and nesting in nearby hilltops. Left unchecked, it’s a recipe for internal and external troubles. And in this particular case, the teens were exploited by a group bent on undermining Jewish settlements.
Rabbis for Human Rights achieved their main goal of staining the image of the “settlers.” They also caused indirect damage by causing communities to have to waste valuable resources to “put out the fires” caused by these events as they’ve had to expend time and effort to try to minimize damage in the media and in relation to the IDF command.
Army leaders also had to spend time and energy to reassess and deploy forces to prove that the military is indeed sovereign in the area despite the efforts of teenage boys working to sow an atmosphere of anarchy. The IDF went as far as to transfer Border Police forces to the hills around Yitzhar and to declare the area a closed military zone. It’s as if they said, “You wanted ‘sovereignty’, you got it”.
Furthermore, the debate regarding the exaggeration of the first reports coming from the scene describing the assault of an 80-year-old man does not necessarily take away from the damage the incident already created regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of the reports. Even if it was proven that there were not actually thirty masked guys carrying iron bars, but only seven or eight 14-year-old boys and only one of them hit the old man with a stick, the damaging image remains the same.
The same goes for the other details of the event. Regarding the legitimacy of the assaulted man using the title of “Rabbi,” even if he was a Reform rabbi or someone just calling himself a rabbi without the Chief Rabbinate’s authority, that does not change the severity of the incident, nor the consequences, nor was it a reason to beat him. Regardless of the details, media around the world reported that Jews in Samaria mercilessly beat elderly people who came to harvest olives. It added tarnish to an already bad image.
Some have described the teens, who have dropped out of educational institutions and left their families in other cities and towns to wander the hills of Judea and Samaria, as “higher souls” who are trying to strengthen their commitment to Torah and who give their lives for the love of the Land. People have said things about these teens like, “they should be loved and embraced even if sometimes they make mistakes,” or “remember that we were young, too, and did some dumb things.” Or they say, “The Arabs and the leftists are our enemies and it’s not so bad that they get a little roughed up here and there. And in no time, these teenagers will grow up and raise families and become the best pioneers”.
No, of course we shouldn’t turn our backs on these youths in distress. On the contrary. We must demand uncompromisingly that the professional agencies responsible for providing support for at-risk teens intervene and give these young people all of the support that they deserve and need. These agencies should not sit back and wait for an outbreak of damaging extreme acts of violence before they intervene. High school dropouts drifting around this area without a home who are at risk should be treated by the welfare authorities according to their official place of residence, which is not necessarily in Samaria.
The drifting at-risk teens are not a phenomenon that has suddenly surfaced in recent days. It has been happening for a least a decade and should have never become an issue that soldiers, the IDF, nor the Border Police officers in Samaria – whose job it is to provide ongoing security for the residents here and the State of Israel in general – should have to deal with.
Like Rabbis for Human Rights, there are other known leftist organizations just waiting for the opportunity to try to turn our lives into a circus. We must not sit idly by and wait for these organization to take advantage of and abuse internal social distress within our community. We must proactively address weaknesses within our society from a framework of values and education for the good. We should do this on our own initiative and not wait for hostile outsiders to force us to address the problem out of shame or after the fact. G-d forbid we hand those working to undermine peace in Israel an opportunity like the one they took advantage ever again.