Treat the Hill Top Offenders As Terrorists

It is patently unfair that the reputations of millions of people are besmirched because of the reckless actions of a handful. But that has long been part of day-to-day reality, and has only been accentuated by globalization and instant media.

In addition, there is no moral equivalency between vandalism, such as spraying graffiti, on religious edifices, or even acts of violence such as the burning of olives groves, and the willful maiming and murder of innocent civilians.

In an ideal society, while the former can never be justified under any circumstances, and must be excoriated in the harshest possible terms, there should be no reason to label such acts as terrorism.

But the world we live in is far from ideal.

When reckless right-wingers, often referred to as “Hill Top Youths,” commit acts of violence, it isn’t only that the rest of the residents of Yehudah and Shomron are unfairly blamed; Jews throughout the world suffer.

Vandalism is always indefensible, but when houses of worship — regardless of which religion — are targeted the damage is far more than some spray paint or broken windows.

When a mosque or a church is attacked,  then shuls and religious Jews throughout the world have valid reason to fear reprisal attacks, or be concerned that their relations with their neighbors will suffer.

No matter how dastardly the provocation, “revenge” attacks on innocent individuals are just as despicable as the initial acts of violence. Every person is obligated to use his free-will to exercise restraint and control his anger, and when he fails to do so he is fully responsible for his actions.

But that doesn’t absolve the provocateurs from being guilty as well, and there can be no doubt that the reckless actions of the so-called Hill Top Youths are not only deeply offensive, they are also putting Jews in danger and they create a great chillul Hashem.

Since under Israeli law, the vandalism known as “price tag,” is considered a crime rather than an act of terror, the legal bar for conducting searches and making arrests is high, seriously hampering the ongoing investigations.

Were their nefarious actions to receive the legal classification of terrorism, it would give the Israeli police and prosecutors far more leeway in tracking down the culprits.

”If [we] can pick up tomorrow morning 20 or 30 people without asking any questions … I’m sure we’ll be able to put the puzzle together a lot quicker,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the media. “At the moment we’re working one by one.”

They may not be terrorists, but they are endangering the innocent and hurting Jews everywhere. By treating them as terrorists during the investigations, Israel will only be saving these youths from destroying themselves.

But this alone would still not address the root of the problem. What these sorely misguided individuals are refusing to recognize is the fact that we are still in galus — in exile on our own land.

Gedolei Yisrael have given various rulings as to whether or not Israel should be giving away land to the Palestinians (the term “giving back” is a misnomer.)  All would agree however the that needlessly antagonizing Arabs is certainly forbidden.

The real mantra of the Hill Top Youths  isn’t “Price Tag,” or even “Shut Down Mosques, Not Yeshivos.” What they are all about is exhibiting “kochi v’otzem yadi,” of abandoning the voice of Yaakov in favor of the sword of Esav.

It is crucial that all the Jewish residents of Yehudah and Shomron, as well as those who live in the other areas of Israel and throughout the world, recognize that we must conduct ourselves in a manner that is befitting Jews in exile and fulfills our mission as being a “light onto the nations.”