Though the trio of commemoration days and their attendant controversies recede into memory, Israel finds new ways to keep internecine criticism alive. This season’s version is, “Who can spew the most over-the-top denunciation of the Hilltop Youth?” The Hilltop Youth stand accused of “price-tag” attacks. (“Price-tag” is a term coined to describe acts of vandalism by the settler population in Judea and Samaria against Palestinians and their property in reaction to Palestinian acts of violence or perceived anti-settler actions by the Israeli government.)
The hands-down winner in this competition of condemnation is Israel’s writer laureate Amos Oz with his declaration that price-tag and Hilltop Youth are cute nicknames for a monster that needs to be called what it is: “Hebrew neo-Nazi groups.” Of course Oz as a man of letters has a professional advantage in his statement comparing Israeli Jewish Hilltop Youth with neo-Nazis. Regardless of any reprehensible acts these youths may have committed, Oz’s remarks were a hill too far.
Before I go further, I must categorically denounce price-tag acts or any anarchic acts committed by the Hilltop Youth, or comparable behavior by anyone else for that matter. It is wrong morally and counterproductive strategically.
Slashing tires is bad, but spray-painting and damaging the houses of worship of other faiths is particularly offensive and, sadly, it has given the enemies of communities in Yehuda and Shomron, and of Israel in general, fodder to blast us. The media and politicians have taken the slashed tires and a few scrawls of vulgarities and extrapolated them into a persecution of Christianity and Islam rather than recognizing the fact that Israel is the only state in the entire Middle East to preserve and ensure the rights of all faiths to practice their religion openly and without harassment and visit their holy sites freely.
The media paint the picture of Israel as a repressive nation threatening its minorities. The great irony is that the only faith in Israel that has its freedom of worship and access to holy sites curtailed is Judaism.
These price-tag attacks have also given the Jewish Left in Israel a platform from which to pontificate their one-sided approach to human rights. The Left, including Amos Oz, rejects the very presence of Jews in Yehuda and Shomron, Israel’s Biblical and historic heartland. He and those like him believe that all settlers living in settlements are “crossing the line” and in violation of international law and are, to some degree or another, engaging in illegal activity. The Hilltop Youth represent to them the criminal face of an illegal movement.
This past Sunday in Yerushalayim, in a protest organized by the Tag Meir (Enlightenment Tag) group, an umbrella group whose intention is to demonstrate against the price-tag crimes, several hundred participants demanded that the authorities vigorously pursue those responsible and put an “end to Jewish terrorism and to price-tag crimes.”
It is important to note that the funding for Tag Meir comes from the notoriously anti-Israel New Israel Fund (NIF). Prominent among promoters of the rally was the organization Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), which may well be the most misleading title for an organization in history.
If you have heard their diatribes against Jewish Israel or their misapplication of mitzvot it would be clear how the organization’s moniker fails on both counts.
It is impossible to know how many among those who attended Sunday’s rally also speak out against Arab crimes against Jews, but knowing the sponsors it is easy to guess. And therein lies the hypocrisy. If Amos Oz, the NIF, and RHR, and others made the same claims and demands against Arabs who were in violation of law or in defense of Jewish rights then their claiming the mantle of human rights advocates would not be so galling.
Others within Israeli society, notably Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Likud Beytenu) and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, have demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ask the cabinet to classify price-tag attackers as terrorists.
Breaking News: As I am writing this column, Palestinian Foreign Minister Maliki, inspired by the logic of the Left and the wise words of our Public Security Minister and our Justice Minister, Israel’s lead negotiator in the “peace talks” who publicly decried the settlements as an obstacle to said peace talks, has petitioned the U.N., the U.S., the European Union, Russia and various other nations and organizations to recognize the Jewish Hilltop Youth as a terrorist organization and demanded that it be placed on the list of international terrorist organizations. Mailki’s justification for these petitions was Israel’s internal vilification of these youths: “We have quotes from Israeli officials who already refer to them as terrorist organizations operating out of hatred for Arabs,” Maliki stated.
It is impossible to condone acts of vandalism but it is important to, as the Left loves to justify negative things, to “keep them in context.” At worst, they are analogous to hate crimes. Additionally, it has proven in numerous cases in the past that vandalism to olive trees and spray-painted graffiti was in fact done by Arabs to scapegoat the Jews which the media did gladly. Price-tag attacks are misdirected acts borne of frustration with the policies of Israeli governments that do not adequately protect Israelis from neighboring hostile Arabs. These youths are not saints and what they did cannot be excused but can they justifiably be decried as terrorist acts?
In this inversion of right and wrong, Israel races to placate the world’s sense of fairness by offering its own children as sacrifices. These youths aren’t terrorists. Israel knows who the real terrorists are; they’re the 78 guys it released in order to have the “privilege” of sham peace talks.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.