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Settler 'price tag' pogroms against Palestinians go under the radar

With violence against Palestinians becoming commonplace and essentially condoned, it begins vanishing from the media and becomes a non-issue

When a post mortem on Israeli democracy takes place, there’s a good chance that the “Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi” will be considered akin to Radio Rwanda, which encouraged and led the murderers to the victims during that country’s genocide.

The site (Hebrew), whose name means “The Jewish Voice,” is operated by the Yehudim Smechim (“Happy Jews”) Association (Hebrew), which is the active front of the students of the “Od Yoseph Khai” yeshiva in Yizhar. Led by Yizhak Ginzburg, this is in all likelihood the most extreme yeshiva around. It became famous, or rather infamous, when two of its rabbis wrote “Torat Ha’Melekh,” a treatise on the proper way – according to Jewish law – to kill gentiles. Even the Ministry of Education stopped funding it for a time after that.

Ha’Kol Hayehudi reports steadily and enthusiastically about the pogroms carried out by settlers, under the code name of “price tag” – referring to acts carried out against Palestinian in revenge of government actions harming the settler enterprise. One wonders how involved is the site in those activities: When Itamar Sha’altiel and I tried to find out, two months ago, why price tag activities went drastically down for some two weeks, we found those weeks correlated with the yeshiva’s Passover vacation.

Be that as it may, Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi enjoys excellent sources in the Jehovistic right. It reported on Thursday (Hebrew) about a pogrom which took place two months ago in Pisgat Ze’ev, a settlement close to Jerusalem: 40 Jewish young men organized themselves and went on a Palestinian hunt, claiming Palestinians were bothering Jewish women in the neighborhood. They managed to find four Palestinians next to the local mall, and after making sure the order of battle met KKK standards – which is to say ten attackers per victim – they began their attack. The police showed up, the Palestinians were taken to the hospital, suffering light wounds, and the pogromchiks fled. No arrests were reported. In fact, nothing whatsoever was reported.

Three years ago, Israel was shaken to its core for about twenty minutes, after proud Jewish pogromchiks did precisely the same thing, at the same place, except the time was the eve of Holocaust Day. In both cases, the gangs were organized in closed forums – the police thought they were organized by text message last time; the report says a Facebook group was the communication channel this time around – and in both cases, the police failed to grab the list and identify the organizers.

One wonders whether the source of Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi is Neryah Ophan, a former student at “Od Yoseph Khai,” who was scandalously ordered to stay away from Pisgat Ze’ev by an order of the Home Front Command. Ophan was suspected of organizing precisely such events. Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi used the pretext of the attack to reprint the call by Ginzburg and other extrme rabbis to support the pogromchiks, which was originally printed three years ago. Needless to say, none of the rabbis was either detained or interrogated; they are too powerful for the police to handle.

The attack three years ago yielded 11 arrests and a hell of a lot of noise; the latest attack drew just silence. After a bombardment of rabbis’ and rabbis’ wives letters, after “price tags” became a commonplace occurrence in the West Bank, after we’ve seen some incidents in Israel proper, after 46 percent of the public said (Hebrew) they consider the attacks a justified response to the Itamar massacre – after all that, this time there were no detainees and no publicity. Had Ha’Kol Ha’Yehudi refrained from mentioning it; the incident would have evaporated into thin air, like most incident it reports on.

The vast majority of these cases do not end in death, and pogroms or just abuse of non-Jews which is non-lethal is becoming a non-issue. We’ve become used to it. Pogroms are a daily event – nothing to write home about, as long as they are kept within bounds. It’s background noise. A dog bites a man. Nothing to see here, move along.

That’s what a low-level terror campaign looks like, when the government lends a quiet hand: Beginning with never-ending investigations; making it clear to hoodlums who hesitate to take part that they have nothing to fear; going along with the rabbis, who the police avoid, who provide the ideological framework for these crimes; and sealing the deal with the fact that those rabbis are government employees and their yeshivas are publicly funded. In fact, Israel, in fact, funds “price tag” activities.

All they have to do now is convince the Israelis to go the extra step, and ignore not just assault, but murder as well. This will be done with the usual excuses – would you like an Arab to date your sister, do you know what the Arab would have done to you if he could – and then we’ll take the final slide into silent darkness. This will take some time: A majority of the population is not yet Jewish enough, is still inhibited.

But we’re no longer in on a slippery slope, we’re in freefall.

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    1. Sylvia

      The two-state solution will take care of that and they know it. They should think of their alternatives and remember the lessons of history. That area was in Roman times a center for some one million Samaritan Jews who have never left the region. Today, they are about 709 of them, and that’s an optimistic figure.

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    2. sh

      The two-state solution will take care of what exactly? If 46% of the population has no problem with “price tags” that are really pogroms, there will be no two-state solution and nothing will be taken care of at all any time soon.

      Reading this piece I’m reminded of the article on the Hemla organization (which went on a what appears to have been quite an exensive publicity/ lecture tour in several towns over the Pessah break) about which Uri Blau and Shai Greenberg recently reported in Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/a-strange-kind-of-mercy-1.364417. Lurid black white and red posters containing their screeds were pasted all over my town.
      It’s important to stress that it’s not just one radio station or one news source or one settler group or one “charity” organization or one daf yomi, these are connected and together form a quiet blitz. If the government protects them from us, not us from them, it’s money from you and me that finances them.

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    3. Kibbutznik

      ” A dog bites a man. Nothing to see here, move along. ”

      We have been in ” freefall ” since they murdered Rabin Yossi .

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    4. […] Those demonstrations were organized by the students of the Od Yoseph Khai yeshiva, about which I already wrote; Ophan is a frequent contributer to Ha’Kol Hayehudi, writing wooly articles trying to combine […]

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