Wearing the extremist smile

There is a look. A facial expression that you can wear to the world when you want to look tough. Eyes narrowed down to slits, eyebrows forced together in an extreme frown and lips pursed together to form a grimace. It’s a tough guy face. It’s a face that Meir Ettinger doesn’t need to put on for the cameras. He’s not pretending to be a tough guy, he’s happy, he’s doing God’s work and he’s out there fighting the cause of righteousness. He’s standing there posing like he’s a hero basking in the glory of infamy.

He’s wearing the extremist’s smile. He isn’t the first and he won’t be the last to smile to the authorities, to grin his guilt to the courts or to smile away to the victims of his crimes.

Yair Ettinger
The alleged head of a Jewish extremist group, Meir Ettinger, appears in court in Upper Nazareth, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

This is the smile of the enemy of Israel, this is the smile that brings death without remorse, it is the smile of lips that will never allow an apology to escape their grasp, it is the smile of the man who believes he is fulfilling the wishes of a power the rest of us cannot understand.

It is the smile of doom and we have seen it many times before.


This is a grin that is well known to all, the grin that says the justice system isn’t just impotent to hold on to those who ruin people’s lives in the name of Judaism, it is in on the crime. It is complicit in the effort to recreate a Jewish empire that existed thousands of years ago.


These men with their smiles, their knowledge that even if the state arrests them, the state supports them, that even if the state doesn’t support them, they have a support network all around them.

This is a network which will campaign for them, which will lobby for their release, which will maintain their innocence in the face of evidence of their guilt, which will ensure that as soon as possible can these people will be free to perpetrate their crimes once again.

extremist smile

And the reason they are so happy, the reason they are so smug is because they know that in spite of all the condemnations and the trials and the punishments the government is behind them.

When they see the Minister of Education of the government of Israel standing on the roof of a building in a settlement with a megaphone telling all who will listen that the IDF is wrong, that the Supreme Court is wrong, they know. They know that they have friends in high places, they know that they have autonomy and they know that they are in the ascendancy.

The Knesset has already authorised extra powers for dealing with Jewish terror networks but the problem was never a lack of power for the police. The problem was a lack of energy, a lack of interest, a lack of motivation to investigate crimes.


Because the police operating in the territories understand the reason they are there is to protect the Jews from the Palestinians. They aren’t there to investigate crimes perpetrated by Jews. They know that, the people living there know that, the politicians who promise settlers everything they want make sure of that.

The end result is a feeling of resignation on the part of law enforcement and a feeling of superiority, even supremacy from those who believe they have carte blanche to do as they please.

And so we have the extremist smile. Get used to seeing it.

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is the author of Beyond the Green Line, a story his service in the IDF fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada