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Hate Crimes and Misdemeanors


The anti-Semitic hate crime committed against the Jewish People yesterday is the product of the world we live in. Sad, despicable, horrendous as the carnage against the innocent worshipers at the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa. was, it is not an isolated incident. Nor is it reserved solely for the Jewish People. It happened in churches, in kindergartens, in high schools, in music concert halls. It is powered by and irresponsible, bombastic rhetoric of politicians, and by guns in the hands of sick, hateful people, who spray bullets of death everywhere.

You may have heard of the ‘Proud Boys’, a far-right group of young, racist white males, full of hate and disposition on inflicting violence whenever possible, lately against progressive demonstrators in Portland, Oregon. If you haven’t heard of them, you soon will, just as you probably have heard of their cousins in Europe, especially in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Germany, where their main target of hate and violence are Muslim immigrants, refugees, and of course Jews, for no particular reason.

And talking about Jews, this is really what I wanted originally to tell you about. Because we, in Israel, have our own version of the ‘Proud Boys of Violence.’ Among their forbearers are the Israeli version of ‘La Familia,’ the staunch supporters of the Israeli soccer team ‘Beitar Jerusalem,’ of whom I just watched a most fascinating documentary on Netflix (highly recommended), titled “Forever Pure.” Their favorite slogan, shouted at every opportunity, is “Death to the Arabs.” They are the core supporters of the Likud, on whose shoulders (literally) both President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu rode to power. They had also, most probably, spewed Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Rabin.

But no, today I’m talking about those who, as we say in Hebrew, are “Mamshichey Haderech.” The “Road Successors.” The young settlers roaming the hills of Judea and Samaria, wearing tzitziyot (fringes) and knitted kippahs, inflicting pain on the Palestinians of the West bank whenever possible. Whether they are shepherds leading their sheep and goats to pasture, or olive growers tending to their groves, you’ll find those Jewish ‘Proud Boys’ exacting pain on the local residents under the protection of the occupation authorities, and the Israeli Army.

Lately, they happened to throw stones on a passing car of a Palestinian family, causing the death of the wife and mother traveling in that car. Now you’d think, since those ‘Proud Jewish Boys’ did that in broad daylight and plain sight, that they would be caught by now, and maybe brought to justice. You’d be wrong. Three weeks later or so, they are free to roam the hills, inflicting pain and suffering again, putting words to action from the book of Beitar Jerusalem’s soccer fans, shouting “Death to the Arabs.”

You might also be saying: Wait, didn’t a young Palestinian man stab to death a Jewish man, a settler, not long ago? And didn’t another young Palestinian man kill two workers at the Barkan Industrial Park near the largest settlement of Ariel, and is yet to be caught? You’d be right bringing up these two cases to the forefront. And though one assailant was caught and already charged with murder in a court of law, and the other one is still on the lam, with the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet hot on his heels; and though their actions are not justified, should be condemned, and would bring the Palestinians no closer to their goal of a state of their own, the differences are striking.

These are act of desperation, by lone wolves, dying to die themselves, and are directed against the occupiers, who are terrorizing and controlling their lives since they were born. It’s an act of defiance, if you will. They do not operate under the cover of a large army, not even under the cover of their own Palestinian security forces. In ninety-nine percent of the cases they are either killed during their terror acts or end up in prison, spending their life there with many of their brothers. As I said, these are lone, desperate acts, not organized terror.

But the actions of these young, messianic settlers, are organized terror against the local Arab population. A “Jewish Terror Act” is how the Israeli media described it lately. They mostly act, wreaking their violence, with impunity. Under the protection—many time literally, as documented by plenty of videos, whereabout Israeli soldiers stand by and look on as they throw stones—of the Israeli Army, the occupation authority of the Israeli Government. What unite these ‘Boys of terror,’ these ‘Proud Boys of Violence,”—like the American anti-Semitic racist who murdered eleven people at the ‘Tree of Life’ synagogue—is pure hatred and the worship of violence.

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Guns Uncontrolled; Settlements Uncontrolled

theguardian.com

theguardian.com

For some time now, I’ve been bothered by the similarities between the issue of guns and violence in America, and the issue of settlements and violence in Israel. And while, at least on the outset, it seems as if there is no connection between these two issues and countries, in terms of the proliferation of both guns and settlements, and the inability of sane people – in both countries, the majority – to bring them under control, and the misery and bloodbath they continue to bring, the similarities are striking. So let’s set the stage for this argument by describing two (fictional) scenarios. You’ll be the judge as to how closely they might resemble reality and truth.

First, imagine a gathering in the luxurious headquarter of the NRA – President, Vice President, all the other honchos – following a mass-shooting. The latest one, you know, which took place last month, or the one that will take place next month. They sit around the most beautiful, expensive mahogany boardroom desk, sipping champagne while watching three HD screens. On the one, a mixture of television live coverage and studio reporting going on at FOX from the latest shooting incident. On the other screen there’s a live CNN feed from the White House, awaiting the President reaction speech. On the third one, a large computer monitor screen, there are a number of graphs in various colors, indicating a minute-by-minute gun sales throughout America.

Now, when the president speaks, gravely and even teary-eyed about the latest incident, our “expensive suits” in the room raise another glass of champagne, and laugh loudly. Because right then, the graph of gun sales in Texas begins a steady rise. When an enraged father of one of the victims speaks on the other TV screen, vowing to do all in his power to bring about sane gun control measures in order to prevent such tragedies from happening to other parents, the most expensive Cuban cigar box is opened, and cigars are fired up by all men in the – soon to be smoke-filled – room. And when the PR secretary enters the room, the only woman there, and asks for instructions regarding the barrage of requests from the media for interview and reaction from the NRA President, he puffed a long funnel of heavy smoke to the ceiling, smiles and asks her to join the fun. No interviews; no need for them. Even in liberal, democratic California gun sales are hitting the roof. New members are joining the NRA all over the land. The dollars are pouring in. Later, she is told, she can issue the regular press release statement: The NRA is terribly sorry for all innocent lives lost in this tragedy, but it has nothing to do with the availability of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens in the country. It’s just a mental illness issue, and criminals getting their hands on guns. Come honey, sit on my lap, and raise a glass of champagne with us, why don’t you. Cheers.

Second, imagine a gathering in the modestly furnished (by compression to the NRA), mid-sized office of Israel’s Prime Minister. He’s sitting behind his desk, and opposite him are a couple of close advisers. Last week – or the following week, it doesn’t matter – Israel announced a new settlement, or new buildings to be built in an existing settlement. When the expected phone call from Secretary Kerry comes, voicing the American administration displeasure and deep concern over this new development, the Israeli PM answers that, for all intents and purposes: It is what it is, Mr. Secretary. We will take your complaint under advisement, but let me remind you that Israel is a sovereign country. And anyway, what are you going to do about it, ha? But please, before you hang up, don’t forget to send us the scheduled quarterly installment of aid, nine hundred million dollars, is it not? Thanks a million. See you in D.C. next time.

Cheers and laughter all around, from the Prime Minister to his aides. Ice cream is now served, the PM favorite flavor, and pistachios and orange juice are being brought into the room by a pretty secretary. A backgammon board is being opened. But just before a game is about to begin, Angela Merkel is on the phone line from Germany, voicing her displeasure with the new settlement, and/or the new land-grab by Israel in the Jordan Valley. Angela my dear, says the PM while spooning his ice cream, you have so many other problems to worry about right now with all those Arab immigrants. We got to do what we got to do, see, and you do the same. You know, if the Holocaust had taught us anything… Sure, dear Angela, nothing else is planned for the near future, I promise you. And of course, don’t forget the delivery date of our latest submarine. Make sure it is capable of launching a nuclear second attack. With this disastrous Iran Nuclear deal, you know, we need to be ready. Sure, Angela, no worries about the money. I know we got a very good deal from you. Auf Wiedersehen.

And so it goes, my friends. No stopping the proliferation of guns in America; no stopping the proliferation of settlements in Israel. Both situations bring only disaster with them – yet the beast of big-money and fundamentalist-evil needs to be constantly fed. Guns and violence go hand in hand – believe me, I speak from experience. And so are settlements. No matter how many scholars and law enforcement people will tell you that America cannot continue to be the only civilized, western country to have such an epidemic of gun violence, the patriotic ignorance masses who sleep with the second amendment under their pillow will tell you otherwise. Or will kill you; watch out. And likewise, no matter how many historians and diplomats, good people who actually love Israel and want to see its future secured, will tell you that indefinite continuation of the settlement endeavor leads to an apartheid state, and ultimately to the destruction of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state, the fundamentalist patriots who sleep wrapped in the flag, the bible on their nightstand, will prevent them from putting a stop to that madness. What unite the two camps is god, guns and money. Bringing only blood, tears and violence.

* The “Leave a comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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