The ink was not yet dry on Gideon Levy’s op-ed last Thursday when everything changed by sundown.
That very afternoon, a crazed ex-con in sidelocks slashed his way through a gay pride march in Jerusalem and, the very next day, an Arab infant was killed in an arson attack, ostensibly by settlers.
Levy’s concession piece was a watershed in the unending flow of toxic abuse he has vented on his own people through the columns of Haaretz, which seems to relish publishing anything and anyone with something nasty to say about its own Jewish state.
“The settlers have won and they deserve the victory,” Levy wrote, admonishing the “limpness” of his leftist friends in Tel Aviv. “In the settler camp, the fire burns strong,” he went on, saying that instead of wasting nights at concerts “the settler camp struggles, acre after acre, day after day, year after year.”
How sad therefore that the Religious Zionist camp was not able to bask in this rare praise from its nemesis. All was ruined by a madman inexplicably released at the worst possible time and a feral gang of thugs. Every nation, creed and tribe has its crazies and derelicts. Unless held to yet another double standard, Jews are no different.
The Left have been quick to regroup and seize the opportunity to demonise the entire Religious Zionist community over this. And, to wit, on the 10th anniversary of the Gaza Disengagement - their greatest sacrifice for the state and its pipedream of peace with the PLO. The trauma of 8,000 people losing their homes, their shuls, schools and farms – some still paying loans on those razed homes and businesses 10 years on - it all counts for nothing now. Any vestige of sympathy blown away in 24 hours of madness.
Not far behind the rants of these leftist pundits have been their bedfellows in the racist NGOs and BDS movement, spitting bile into social media and feeding the most preposterous side-stories to foreign media hacks hopelessly addicted to any and every anti-Israel narrative.
No-one excuses these crimes of a crazed homophobe or criminal arsonists. All shades of Israeli society are agreed they must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But when this latest hatefest blows over, the government would do well to address the real issue that lies beneath.
Jews baiting Jews in the Jewish state.
Crime and punishment is not what it used to be. When I was growing up in Britain, bad people were locked up for a long time and some were even hanged. Today when someone commits a crime, the progressives instinctively ask: "what made him do such a thing?" Did he come from a broken home? Was he abused as a child? The criminal gets all the analysis whilst the victim is either dead or disabled for life and his family bereft. If it’s rape, the victim is traumatized for a lifetime, while the judge frets over her attacker’s right to parole and a family life.
When the Fogel family and their newborn child were slaughtered, all the Left wanted to know was which town their murderers came from and what awful deprivations or provocations drove them to cut a helpless infant’s throat. When Yehuda Glick was shot outside the Begin Centre, the Left wanted to know how someone who was employed on those same premises could be driven to shoot a Jew he knew and called to by name. This was not of course to condone what he did … they just wanted to know cause and effect.
The same goes for the Islamist outrages in Europe. How painstakingly was the Charlie Hebdo attack analysed by the pundits and talking heads. “We must have really upset them,” they said. "Yes, we need our free speech... but there must also be sensitivity."
And here lies the double-standard.
Nobody seems interested in ‘cause and effect’ for the settlers or Religious Zionists. Nobody asks what drove Shlissel to commit a second heinous attack on gays within days of finishing his 10 year sentence. Nobody’s interested in what drives Price Taggers to torch and daub churches, mosques or Arab homes
Could it be that the sanctity of Yerushalayim means as much or more to some Jews as the image of Muhammad means to some Muslims? Could it be that settlers have been traumatized by incessant Arab terrorism, and the countless acts of barbarity from the slaughter of the Fogels to last year’s three kidnapped boys? Could it be that Religious Zionists are alienated by a government which discriminates against them to pander to foreign opinion? Whose court system has one set of sentencing rules for Jews and another – or none at all – for Arabs? Whose police will disarm an entire Jewish community in Samaria because a settler drew his gun in self-defense and frightened an Arab boy? Whose city councils will tie up Jewish homebuilding in years of red tape whilst turning a blind eye to illegal Arab construction anyplace they choose (including a mere ten yards from Menachem Begin’s grave on the Mount of Olives)?
I fear that the Left will now seek to snatch victory over the Religious Zionists from the jaws of the defeat almost conceded by its vile standard-bearer Gideon Levy. The means to achieve this is as old as Goebbels … first to demonize and dehumanize, and then to destroy with full support and justification.
The government must stop this in its tracks. It must show equal concern and sensitivity to ALL sectors of society and the courts must mete out justice evenly. If not we will be facing the one evil that Menachem Begin declared as his life’s greatest achievement in avoiding: Civil war. Jew against Jew.
Nothing would make our Palestinian enemies happier than to see Israel at war with itself. Even happier will be the world BDS movement with its professors, student unions, trade unionists and closet Nazis all.