By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
I’m still among those who don’t know if the Iran deal is as bad as many in Israel say it is or better than its alternatives, which retired big-wigs in the Israeli defense establishment seem to suggest. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign against the deal is bad for Israel.
Not only has it wrecked the relationship between the Jewish state and the President of the United States – Secretary of State Kerry is in the region but deliberately omits and thus snubs Israel – and not only has it diverted the attention of the government of Israel from other arguably more pressing issues like peace and Jewish terrorism, but it has also drawn new attention to Israel’s own nuclear ambitions. The Atomic Agency is now being urged to have a look at what’s happening in Dimona: Bibi’s boomerang.
To say it again: As grave as these issues may be, perhaps an even greater threat to Israel’s very existence comes from within. The man who murdered the teenager at the Pride Parade may have acted alone, but he seems to have supporters in many places. The ultra-Orthodox newspapers, I’m told, didn’t even report on the girl’s death,
Those who burnt down the house in the Palestinian village that killed a baby and severely injured the rest of the family seem to be part of a trend in the settler culture. It’s of the same ilk that destroyed the church in Galilee recently. By all accounts perpetrators are being inspired and instructed by their “spiritual mentors.”
The security had to be tightened around President Rivlin after his courageous speech at the rally in Jerusalem last Saturday night when he spoke of collective shame and joint responsibility for Jewish terrorism. He’s said to have received threats as a result.
The prime minister and some members of his cabinet seem to have condemned both the stabbing in Jerusalem and the arson in the Palestinian village, but there’s nothing to suggest that, despite the rhetoric, tangible steps will be taken to curb Jewish terrorism.
Only a different government could take such steps to heal the self-inflicted wounds in the country, and that’s not on the cards. Despite its razor-thin majority there’re no signs that this rabidly right-wing coalition is about to be unseated. In past right-wing governments there was usually a moderating liberal force of one kind or another. Not so this time. The cabinet has members who’re extreme enough even to want to interfere with the rule of law. And a justice minister who seems to be ambivalent.
There are those who argue that the composition of the present government of Israel may implicitly encourage extremism. The hotheads, often inspired by their ayatollah-rabbis, may reckon that their patrons in cabinet will protect them from having to pay the price for the havoc caused by their ideology.
As things stand at the moment, it seems that the real enemies of Israel are women and men who style themselves as God-fearing Jewish patriots. They are threatening the future of the country. Unless those in power recognize it and take steps to stem the tide, we’ve much more to fear from our own ayatollahs than from those in Iran.
When he delivers himself of another tirade about Iran in his forthcoming video performance to American Jewry and tells how democratic and caring his government is in comparison to the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Netanyahu should also be made to commit himself to curb Jewish terrorism on his watch.
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By Rabbi Dow Marmur.