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Rechavia Berman: The rise of the Judean Liberation Front

Settler violence is now aimed even at IDF soldiers. It’s decision time for Israel. Raging Rick Berman in a special column following recent “price tag” attacks and hate crimes

By Rechavia “Rick” Berman

Settler's graphiti on a mosque in Qursa, the West Bank (photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Say, has anyone sent some flowers to Meir Bartler? According to reports, Bartler participated two nights ago in the “occupation” of some abandoned structures in the demilitarized no-man’s land, between Israel and Jordan). The object of this exercise was to declare their allegiance to the full and utmost borders of “Israel by right” – borders that include a nice-sized chunk of the Kingdom of Jordan, not to mention parts of Lebanon and Syria. Another purpose was to protest and preempt an evacuation of some illegal outposts. That’s outposts even Israel’s government and legal system deem illegal, as opposed to the regular internationally-illegal settlements.

Bartler, a sort of modern-day Shimon Bar-Giora (and that’s not a compliment, in case you wondered), deserves flowers along with his fellow travelers  for his singular stripping of the masks official Israel strives so very hard to maintain. It displayed the timing of a Hollywood script – a mere two days after the killing (read: murder) of Mustafa Tamimi in the west bank village Nabi Saleh.

As most have you already know, in addition to the bizarre and unprecedented invasion of “Jordan”, the Price Tag rioters also invaded a major IDF base in the West Bank, where they pried open the door of the vehicle in which the ranking commander was cowering from their wrath, and proceeded to pelt him with stones at close range, causing a head wound (yes, a light one. Still). They also threw at least one petrol bomb and damaged a good deal of IDF property. At the end of this daring raid, the force of several dozen managed to escape entirely intact, with not a single arrest being made and not a single shot – not even of “crowd-dispersal methods” – being discharged by the brave, brave, brave IDF defending its own base from a hostile intrusion.

On the preceding Friday, to remind you, a few soldiers sat within an armored jeep, impervious to any rocks being hurled at them and about to leave the rock throwers behind. Behind the jeep ran a local protester, not seen to be holding any rocks at that precise moment, although there is universal acknowledgement that he did throw rocks, that day and on many others. The soldiers compromised their safety by cracking the jeep’s rear door slightly open – thereby creating a small, but greater-than-nil chance of an actual stone penetrating the interior of the jeep and hitting them. A soldier stuck a gas canister rocket-propeller throw the aperture and fired directly into Mustafa Tamimi in the face. Mustafa died from his wounds the next morning.

The prevalent response by IDF defenders – even ones that claim to be in favor of some sort of peace, on some utopian tomorrow, under a blue moon when the messiah comes – was that “if you raise a stone at an IDF soldier, your asking to die. End of story.” And never mind that the IDF’s own rules of engagement forbid the direct firing of gas canisters. “The soldier didn’t – couldn’t possibly have! – seen Tamimi. It was an accident.” Well, the same IDF forbids the firing of a gas canister without using the sense of sight, which is intended to prevent precisely such an “accident”.

And lo! Two days later we learned that not only is a Jewish soul more different from that of a gentile than the gentile’s soul differs from the soul of a beast (that’s not me saying, that’s Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak the Cohen Cook, father of religious Zionism as we know it) – but the physical actions of different levels of existence differ based on who commits them. Thus, stones thrown directly at the exposed head of a base commander during a violent intrusion on the base do not merit any sort of attempt at self-defense. A stone allegedly thrown by a Palestinian justifies shooting a deadly projectile in such haste that deadly consequences do indeed ensue.

When asked about this discrepancy by Israeli Radio’s legendary military reporter, Carmella Menashe, a high-ranking IDF officer said “Well, Carmella, surely you don’t expect us to shoot at Jews?” Obviously not.

Therefore, let it be known loud and clear: In Israel, the penalty for violent offenses against the uniformed agents of the state is solely dependent on ethnicity. Violator from group A can be killed, violator from group B will most likely not been apprehended, and if so he will be released shortly.

And just in case anyone was simple enough to think that the holy warriors would be deterred by the astonished gasp caused by their attack on the very soldiers who enable their way of life, they followed it up just last night with the torching and defiling of an abandoned mosque. I guess the rabbis they take their marching orders from have greenlighted the general offensive. You know what? I hope so.

In 1858, two years prior to his election as President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln positioned himself as the most forceful and eloquent speaker of the anti-slavery camp by stating that “A house divided against itself will not stand”. Lincoln told America that it had to choose. That it would eventually be all slave or all free. Likewise, Israel must choose: Swallow the territories, and resign to becoming a bi-national state (all Apartheid or all equal), or spit them out and relocate, unilaterally if need really be, to something that broadly resembles the Green Line. This stick can no longer be held at both ends.

And one other thing: The Regiment Commander and all other officers who were present and did nothing to defend their base should be removed from command. Full stop. Anything else would be confirmation that Israel and the IDF have ceded the state’s monopoly on violence to the settlers gangs.


Rick’s book, “Jewcy Story”, a popular history of the 2nd Temple Era, can be bought for Amazon Kindle, for cell phone or for PC here.

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    1. Ben Israel

      It is important to remember an important fact. Those of us who opposed Sharon because of his refusal to get a mandate from the public for his destruction of Gush Katif in violation of all his promises warned this would happen.
      Look at it this way….just as Larry Derfner and other “progressives” here at 972 and other places may say “I oppose Palestinian terrorism but I understand it”, I would say the same thing about this….”I oppose the price tag actions, but I understand them” Make no mistake..these people should be arrested…
      HOWEVER, it is important to remember what happened with Gush Katif. During the 2003 election campaign, Mitzna and the Labor Party promised to evacuate ONE settlement from Gush Katif (Netzarim), Sharon said “Netzarim is no different than Tel Aviv” and that he opposed destroying the Gush. After he wins a big victory he announces he WILL destroy Gush Katif. When opposition built up in his Likud, he announced there would be a referendum of the party members and that he swore to honor the results. He even said he viewed it as a “vote of confidence” in his leadership. The polls showed him winning big. In the end he LOST big. He then announced he would NOT honor the results, nor would he heed calls from people like the MAFDAL to call new elections to get a mandate from the public. He went ahead and he and all the “Progressives” says “THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS 61 VOTES IN THE KNESSSET. THAT IS DEMOCRACY”. (All you “progressives should remember that when this Knesset passes laws you don’t like. You are being hypocrites when you say they are “anti-democratic” laws because regarding Gush Katif you said the only measure for a “democratic decision” is a majority in the Knesset and it is sedition to oppose any such decision–REMEMBER THIS next time you complain about decisions by the Knesset you don’t like).
      Those of us who opposed Sharon’s plan organized numerous large demonstrations and protests that were almost ALL peaceful and legal. Sharon said in effect we can all go to hell, he didn’t care.
      Thus, the youth saw that PLAYING BY THE RULES OF A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY doesn’t work. The regime in power here doesn’t care what the people, even the majority think. They can carry out a massive violation of human rights by throwing 8000 people out of their homes and destroying their life’s work because 61 votes in the Knesset which were obtained largely by bribery and threats said so.
      This “price tag” hooliganism is the inevitable result. Don’t come with the claim that anyone who opposes a “democratic decision” by a thin majority has no right to protest. The US Constitution requires super large majorities for large-scale changes like the Constitution itself or passing foreign treaties. The Founding Fathers realized that it is dangerous to have a large embittered minority.
      Thus, Israel is now paying the price for this arrogant, brutal act by Sharon and those who supported him. A large part of religious youth is alienated from the state and its istitutions, and don’t forget that they are the among the largest components of the IDF and are moving up in business, industry, science and other parts of the state and society. The trust must be restored and that can only be done by sensitivity and dialogue, not by threats to impose martial law and carrying out mass arrests and administrative detentions.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      I thought you were speaking of the Judean Liberation Front from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Um, Ben Israel, in Israel it’s the Knesset that decides, and the disengagement passed overwhlemingly. Twice. first time y’all mustered 39 votes. Then insisted on another round. You got 42. Shit was voted on. This ain’t Alex Goldfarb and his Mitzubishi. this is a rock solid majority of the sovereign parliament.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mitchell Cohen

      Rechavia, if a law passes by an 80 to 40 majority that states ALL NGO’s (whether left, right, or center) will be limited to how much foreign funding they can receive would you accept that outcome as “democracy running her course” or consider it a “threat to democracy”?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben Israel

      Just remember what you wrote in your previous comment when the Knesset passes laws you don’t like. Don’t say they are “anti-democratic”.

      I am certain you would NOT say what you did in your comment if a Left-wing Prime Minister was elected promising to dismantle settlements and suddenly, after getting in to office, that they were not only NOT going to dismantle settlements, but instead was embarking on a massive expansion of the settlements. You would be screaming to high heaven and saying this person had betrayed his or her voters.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mitchell – First of all if it’s ALL it’s much better. Second, I’m sorry, but when you go to settle in a place you know isn’t formally under Israeli law, that’s in dispute, you have to consider the possibility that one day the state will decide to remove you and draw back from there. I think the handling of the relocation process of the 8,000 Gush Katif residents has been quite atrocious, but that doesn’t change the basic rationale.

      Reply to Comment
    7. RichardL

      Interesting history lesson Ben Israel. Any comments on the article? Do you approve of the killing of Mustafa Tamimi for example: do you subscribe to it being an accident? Do you believe that Israel should be a bi-national state, or do you advocate for a 21st century Nakba? (Your diversionary comments here suggest you are not in favour of two states based on the Green Line.)

      Reply to Comment
    8. Yeah, but then there were elections and that guy trounced the opposition. Since then the electorate has changed its mind, you say? Indeed, and now we have the wonderful current occupant and his fat cabinet.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mitchell Cohen

      “Mitchell – First of all if it’s ALL it’s much better.” Rechavia, I don’t understand what you are saying here. Secondly, can you answer my question which I DID ask you (which had nothing to do with the disengagement)?

      Reply to Comment
    10. If the law targets all ngo’s equally. what’s not clear? As to your questions – I pointed out the deficiencies of the comparison. But yes, I would consider it a retreat from the model of an open society while acknowledging that it was technically democratic. I need not remind you that some pretty terrible dictators first achieved power democratically. That a parliament may vote for something does not render it right. But to say that the Knesset has the right to create settlements but not the right to withdraw from them is a lunatic’s view of how democracy works.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mitchell Cohen

      “If the law targets all ngo’s equally. what’s not clear?” Thanks for your answer, Rechavia (sincerely). I won’t address the rest of your post, as this would be taking your article even more off topic than it already is. Maybe one of the columnists can start a thread “when is a majority vote in the Knesset a threat to democracy?” or something of the like….

      Reply to Comment
    12. OK ,a little timeline:

      2005: Sharon bucks the (non-binding) vote of the (non-stautory) Likud Assembly and decides to push ahead with it anyway, at the risk of plitting his own ruling party.

      2005: The plan for disengagement passes in the Knesset twice: Once at 80-39, and once and 77-42. Should they have revoted till y’all closed the gap?

      2006: Sharon’s new party, running on “vote for us if you agreed with what we did” trounces all others in the elections, reducing the “classic” Lkud to 12 Knesset members out of 120.

      2009: Even after two unsatisfactory wars, and despite a comeback from Likud, Kadima is still the largest party in the house.

      Not exactly a popular refutation of their policy…

      Reply to Comment
    13. Ben Israel

      Is the Knesset a true reflection of public opinion? The Left claims it isn’t when the Right is in power.
      Why didn’t Sharon call new elections before doing it to get a public mandate?
      Shimon Peres says now it was a mistake.
      Public opinion polls show majorities saying it was a mistake.
      Sharon lied to his voters. Doesn’t that count for anything in your eyes? He promised not to destroy Gush Katif in the 2003 elections and won big. Why isn’t THAT a reflection of public opinion in your eyes?

      Reply to Comment
    14. “The Left claims it isn’t when the Right is in power.”

      Show me where. I haven’t seen it. The left claims these are undemocratic laws regardless of how much majority support they may have. Democracy does not mean tyranny of the majority. One can easily acknowledge an action as having majority support yet denounce it as undemocratic. The evacuation of civilian settlers from an occupied territory never annexed is not a fundamentally undemocratic proposal.

      Reply to Comment
    15. The question of removing the Gush Katif settlements received far more specific parliamentary consideration than the entire creeping enterprise of settlement ever did.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ben Israel

      I say it IS UNdemocratic. So do hundreds of thousands of Israelis, if not more. Politics is not simply “philosophy”. You can argue your point from now until next year but a large number of people feel betrayed and alienated (BTW you never answered my question about how YOU would feel if someone you voted for pulled the same type of trick). Another point is the fact that the destruction of Gush Katif was followed by the police violence at Amona.
      Note how they bashed in the heads of teenage girls who were completely passively resisting, sitting on the floor.
      We remember this, too.
      As I said, this “price tag” activity is a direct result of the behavior of the gov’t. Mass arrests , martial law and large-scale administrative detentions may make the Left feel good, but it will only make things worse.
      The point is to diffuse the anger.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Mikesailor

      Ben Israel should get the title of ‘Hasbarista Supreme’, for how both he and Mitchell have hijacked and diverted this thread. The article is about the new ‘Jewish intifada’ not whether or not Sharon evacuated Gaza. Its almost funny how somehow, the violence and disengenuousness of the ‘settlers’ and thir devotees is absolved because of actions by the Israelis themselves.
      The first step by the Hasbaristas is to deny the actions occurring. If denial doesn’t work, then divert the attention by bringing up the old ‘red herring’ defense, attempting to discredit the message by nit-picking on details or bringing up extraneous arguments only peripherally connected to the topic at hand. The next line is excusing the actions (only if the critcal parties are Zionist Jews, this defense is unaivalable to any others). Of course there is always the simple attacks which are that the writer is simply a ‘leftist’, ‘antisemitic’, or a ‘self-hating Jew’. Finally, when all else fails, point at someone else (it doesn’t matter who) and loudly declaim that they did or would do ‘something worse’. The moral and intellectual hypocrisy of the hasbarista is endless for they will defend the most indefensible positions following the same old script ad infinitum.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Ben Israel

      You obviously didn’t read what I wrote. Rechavia is lamenting the “price tag” actions. I gave the reason for them. It is important to understand the reason in order to be able to put a stop to them. Simply ordering the police to use more violence against right-wing demonstrators, to fill the jails with people based on their ideological background without any evidence they were involved in illegal activities as some on the Left are advocating will not help.
      I find it interesting that you and other find it important to label your opponents with epithets as “hasabarist”. This shows that you are attempting to emotionally activate your fans out there instead of dealing with the arguments brought against your position, which you fail to do.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Ben Israel, I am not disputing that a large amount of people (smaller than you would have us think, obviously) have got it into their heads that there has been some massive usurpation of authority. There hasn’t. Sharon was at fault for saying he would abide by the Likud Assembly decree, but had he abided by it, that would have been meaningless. It would still have to go through the Knesset.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Ben Israel thinks that the Israeli government’s treatment of the SETTLERS is sufficient explanation for the acts described in the article. Amazing, then, that he doesn’t find the treatment suffered by the Palestinians in the same region sufficient cause for what they do.

      Reply to Comment
    21. RichardL

      Ben Israel: I think Mike Sailor did read your post. Meanwhile you are still taking this discussion off on a tangent of your own making, thereby missing the point he made and avoiding the questions I asked you way back in my original post. Just what exactly has your post got to do with the occupation of demilitarised land between Israel and Jordan, the murder of Mustafa Tamimi, the breach of IDF regulations that allowed this to happen, the failure of the IDF to respond effectively to a settler riot, the double standards of the IDF in dealing with Jews and non-Jews, or the prospects for Israel in the event of a civil war?

      Reply to Comment
    22. Piotr Berman

      There is a certain hierarchy:

      1. it is ugly to break promises made during campaign for office, but (a) legal and (b) sometimes wise. Actually, the true problem is that most of the time it is outright clever. In any case, if political parties kept all their promises, GNP would be spent several times over (while the budget would be balanced and taxes lowered), just to mention budgetary end of it.

      2. the state has a certain obligation due to its constitution or what serves as an “effective constitution”, international treaties and diplomatic necessities, breaking those obligations by the parliament is illegal or stupid or both.

      Hence limits on the supremacy of the parliament (and the executive which is not exactly the same in Israel).


      What may be confusing is that both “popular will” and the state obligations of the type listed in point 2 are considered top markers of democracy. But political promises are quite low in those terms. There are reason why direct democracy is not practical.


      Concerning people “thrown out of their homes”, settlers were in disputed territory to be disposed by the state according to whatever military and diplomatic reasons may arise. If their believed Sharon rather than Rabin it is partially their fault: Sharon lied but it was a transparent political lie, bordering with a figure of speech.

      So now settlers again suffer because of impossible promises and their own delusions that allow them to believe these promises. Israel settlement project tries to achieve contradictory goals.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Apa

      @Ben Israel –

      You decry the lack of democratic process for withdrawing an occupation regime. Did the occupied people also get to vote for this, or is it only the occupiers that get to decide? If the occupied did not get to vote, what right do the occupiers have to be indignant?

      Reply to Comment
    24. Kibbutznik

      “if a Left-wing Prime Minister was elected promising to dismantle settlements and suddenly, after getting in to office, that they were not only NOT going to dismantle settlements, but instead was embarking on a massive expansion of the settlements. You would be screaming to high heaven and saying this person had betrayed his or her voters”

      yes I would , but I never voted for Arik Sharon and who in their right mind would call him a Leftist ?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Kibbutznik

      ” The point is to diffuse the anger. ”

      Okay , how do you go about doing that ?
      I can understand their anger with regard to Gush Katif , do they understand our anger with regard to Rabin’s asassination ?

      Reply to Comment
    26. Dannecker

      I call upon Mr Berman to endorse boycott, divestment and sanction, as well as the Right of Return

      Reply to Comment
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