An Emergency Situation — It Is Time for Action

After I heard about the horrific blasphemous burning of a Palestinian family in their sleep in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank on Friday morning, apparently by Jewish extremists — which followed the stabbing of 6 innocent Jewish civilians at the Gay Pride parade the day before in downtown Jerusalem, by a crazy so-called “religious” deranged ultra-Orthodox Jew — I began to realize that we have reached an emergency situation. As a result, I posted the following message last Friday on my Facebook page:

It is high time for the government of Israel to root out these dangerous Jewish terrorists and arrests their rabbis for incitement. A weird and very sick form of xenophobic Judaism is being taught in certain yeshivas in the West Bank and in Israel. Just as Meir Kahane’s group called Kach was banned from running for Israel’s parliament, so these yeshivas and there rabbis should be arrested and jailed for incitement and rebellion. The crazy extremist young people who are committing vandalism every day and have now burned a Palestinian boy to death (again!) are getting these ideas from their rabbis and their sinister writings. Our Security Services should arrest them now on administrative detention — as they do to Palestinians — now as an emergency measure before it is too late! They know who they are and how to find them. These fanatical seek people are bringing doom upon us! They must be stopped now!

While I thought that every word that I wrote was true, I knew that it was somewhat emotional.

And then, I attended an anti-racism demonstration last night in Zion Square in the heart of Jerusalem, at which I heard many speakers address this issue in similar emotional terms, including Rabbi Beni Lau and Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, two of the leading lights of enlightened Modern Orthodox Judaism in Israel, who made it very clear that this acts of Jewish extremists are way beyond the pale of what is acceptable in Judaism. Rabbi Lau explicitly said that we are now in a “high risk” situation, and Rabbi Feuerstein stressed that Judaism does not countenance these kinds of actions.

And then I woke up this morning a read a serious and substantive article by Amos Harel, the well-regarded Defense correspondent of Israel’s most important daily newspaper, Haaretz, who explained authoritatively the nature of the emergency situation in which we find ourselves in Israel at this historical juncture. While his analysis is required reading for anyone concerned with the situation, I quote a few paragraphs for emphasis in this post.

The forgiveness the state has shown over many long years toward the violence of the extreme right — which was also evident this week at Beit El (none of those attacking the police are now in detention) — is also what makes possible the murderous hate crimes like Friday’s in the village of Douma. There is a price for the gentle hand.


Political struggle, including when it is waged against implementation of a court order, is part of the legitimate discourse. However, when the elected (and appallingly weak) settlement leadership tacitly accepts this rampage, while government ministers and Knesset members vie to show contempt toward the High Court of Justice, it’s hard to perceive the infant’s murder as a bolt from the blue — even if the clear majority of settlers are opposed to the deeds of the handful of Jewish terrorists.


It appears the murderers who set fire to the homes in Douma will ultimately be apprehended. The police unit that investigates nationalist crimes was established very late in the day, but has learned its job quickly — as proven most recently by the apprehension of the alleged church arsonists — after a long series of previous failures. The Jewish unit in the Shin Bet security service is also now devoting more resources to dealing with Jewish terror than it had until a few years ago.


However, the war on the Jewish terrorists cannot be confined to security-services measures. This is a long chain, which should begin by shaking off those rabbis and politicians on the far right, and culminate in a strong hand at the courts, which tend to show disproportionate consideration to the personal circumstances of Jewish fanatics.


Due to the authorities’ softness, those who used to be dismissively called “price-tag offenders” have developed into a real terror organization…These people want to ignite a religious war, which is not much different from what the jihadists on the Palestinian side have in mind. If the authorities don’t take action against them in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, and if the security coordination with the Palestinians that the IDF praises so highly isn’t maintained, they’re liable to achieve their aim.


— Amos Harel, Haaretz, August 2, 2015, “Meekness in the face of Jewish extremism carries a heavy price.”

What Amos Harel and many others are saying today is what we in the Tag Meir “Light Tag” Forum — which has been publicly opposing these hate crimes of Jewish terrorists who call themselves “Price Tag” — have been saying for the past 3 1/2 years, but no one was taking us seriously enough. Now, finally everyone is saying it! But will words lead to deeds? I hope so, since we are now clearly in an emergency situation!

Last Friday, I bumped into a rabbi friend in the supermarket on my regular Friday morning pre-Shabbat shopping outing. We talked briefly about the arson and murder of the Palestinian baby in Duma and she said to me: “We are witnessing the hurban habayit haslishi, (“destruction of the Third Jewish Commonwealth”). I dismissed this as hyperbole. But then this morning I heard a friend of mine, Eliaz Cohen, being interviewed on Israeli Radio and he said the same thing — on public radio! — and then he began to weep, and I was shook up.

I am worried, very worried, at this point in our history. It is time for the silent majority in Israel to wake up! A few thousand people of good will attended demonstrations against racism and violence last night in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other parts of the country. We need hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets and say “Maspik!” (Hebrew for “Enough”).

In our synagogues in Israel and all over the Jewish world during the past few weeks, before and after Tisha B’Av, we have been reading from the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah who have warned us about going astray morally and have reminded us of what we were meant to be. A week ago, Isaiah offered us a vision of a better future when he said at the end of the first chapter: “Zion shall be redeemed in Justice, Her repentant ones with Righteousness.” Now is the time to head Isaiah’s words and return to his vision, before it is too late.

About the Author
Rabbi Dr Ron Kronish is the Founding Director the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), which he directed for 25 years. Now retired, he is an independent educator, author, lecturer, writer, speaker, blogger and consultant. He is the editor of 5 books, including Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel--Voices for Interreligious Dialogue (Paulist Press, 2015). His new book, The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem, was published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman and LIttelfield, in September 2017. He recently (September 2022) published a new book about peacebuilders in Israel and Palestine entitled Profiles in Peace: Voices of Peacebuilders in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is available on Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository websites,