Take a look at this video, filmed and uploaded, apparently, somewhere in Jerusalem today. The titles, rich in Purim references, boast that “residents of a borderline neighborhood of Jerusalem are acting to lower the confidence of Arabs in the neighborhood.” “Lowering the confidence” is the euphemistic lie extreme rightists tell themselves when they terrorize innocent Palestinians; we’re just putting them in their place, they say, we don’t kill them or even chase them out. It’s also a threat: If you don’t follow through with our demands, or crack down on us, we’ll do much worse. This, just so you know, is our best behavior. This is what their best behavior looks like:
Needless to say, past weeks and especially the week that elapsed since the Itamar murder have already seen considerably worse attacks, including the torching of cars of Arab students in Safed and Palestinian youths in Jerusalem attacked with iron rods.
Zvi Bar’el has a very important article in today’s Haaretz, highlighting the collusion between the state and grasroot hate-mongers.I’d like to fish out this quote by Safed rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the rising leader of unapologetic Jewish-Israeli segregationists :
[Eliyahu told a class in Itamar following last weekend’s murder] that a senior security official asked him to work against any Jewish terrorist activity that might follow the killings. Eliyahu said he refused: “I told him, if you expect me to stop someone engaging in ‘price tags,’ you’re mistaken. I don’t work for you. But I want to tell you that unless the government takes action, the public will feel a need to take action. And if you don’t act, even if I stand with my arms wide open, I won’t be able to stop those who would act.”
Eliyahu is right – this is exactly how violence gets de-centralized, spreading from state and private, out-sourced forces, to people in the street who feel the government is not taking any action to protect their safety.
He is wrong, of course, to imply that any action further to the arbitrarily cruel and systematically oppressive occupation need to be taken. But the gap the young hooligans – soon, in all probability, militiamen – are trying to fill in is not the objective one between an actual threat and a government’s reasonable response. The gap they’re running amok in is the one between the state’s actions and the state’s own rhetoric about the apocalyptic threat we are facing from Iran / the Arab world / the Left / the rest of humankind. The process goes something like this: If you are to take all the disinformation fodder we are being fed seriously, the siege on Gaza and the routine of Occupation seem very mild indeed, even complacent; and then you go out of your house and see this cognitive anomaly, Arabs in a Jewish state. Up and at ’em!
We are seeing the rise of a an familiar and dangerous trend: During a time of relative quiet, a violent state system uses sustained, back-burner violence, uses permits the use of considerably more violent rhetoric, and leaves its citizens to resolve the tension between the three. We can only expect such attacks to escalate in the coming months, and the organizational level of the groups that carry them out to rise.