By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
The two must be judged together: (1) the efforts by the current government of Israel to curb the activities of left-wing groups, e.g., by not allowing organizations and governments abroad to support them; (2) the fact that the many terrorist acts by all accounts committed by right-wing Jewish extremists have gone unpunished. (To date, the only exception is the recent sentencing of three young Jews for cruelly killing an Arab teenager ostensibly in retaliation for the murder of three young Jews by Arab terrorists.)
While the security forces appear to have the necessary resources to identify and punish perpetrators of terrorism against Jews they’ve seemed unable to find the criminals who have torched the house in Duma that wiped out an Arab family and countless other acts of arson and vandalism against Christian and Muslim houses of worship.
Apart from the above-mentioned sentencing, the closest to justice against Jewish terrorists that the government has come is to take into administrative detention a number of members of Jewish right-wing gangs. According to the minister of defense, their isolation has reduced acts of obvious Jewish terrorism but that’s still far from bringing perpetrators to justice.
This doesn’t mean that the government of Israel condones terrorist acts by Jews but it does suggest that such acts seem to be supported by many Jews in Israel and abroad. Some may also support the government of Israel. It’s possible, therefore, that keeping the very narrow coalition in power is more important to at least some Israeli politicians than upholding the cause of justice in their state.
(The situation may have just become even more acute and the government majority even narrower because one of the members of the governing Likud party, Oren Hazan, has been suspended from the Knesset for a month as a result of his disgusting behaviour towards an opposition member of the legislature who is disabled.)
The absence of indictments against Jewish terrorists has raised eyebrows at home and abroad and made some ask whether the repeated stress by the prime minister of Israel and other spokespersons of Israel as a democracy are genuine and verifiable. Ari Shavit’s column on Jewish terrorism in Thursday’s Ha’aretz prompts similar questions.
The same paper also reports about the unease on the part of supporters of Israel in Europe over the attempts to stop foreign funding of Israeli left-wing groups. Distinguished German parliamentarians who’re warm friends of Israel are said to have appealed to Prime Minister Netanyahu to make sure that the ban doesn’t come into effect, presumably because this would be another indication of Israeli democracy becoming fragile as it champions the Right and vilifies the Left.
Though most of this is a matter of internal Israeli politics I nevertheless wish to share it with friends abroad, because an alarmingly growing number of Jews in the Diaspora seem to have bought into the anti-liberalism of the government of Israel. Some even label every criticism of it – not least Ha’aretz itself – as evidence of anti-Judaism and worse. They confuse support for the government with their love of Judaism.
Despite their professed manifestations of patriotism and commitment to Jewish survival, they must be reminded that condoning Jewish terrorism and condemning its opponents endangers the Jewish state and grossly falsifies Judaism.
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By Rabbi Dow Marmur.