Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Jewish Violence Leads to Legal Equality

Settlers attacking soldiers treated same as Palestinians attacking soldiers

Print Email
Palestinians survey a vandalized mosque yesterday.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

“A disaster.” That is how President Shimon Peres, the closest thing Israel has to a consensual conscience, described the recent spate of right-wing Jewish violence against Muslim holy sites like mosques, in the West Bank and Israel proper, as well as against IDF bases and soldiers, partly in response to the destruction of illegal West Bank outposts. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet has come around, announcing that “administrative detention” would be used against these settlers much as it is used against violent Palestinian protesters. “Those who raise a hand against Israeli soldiers or Israel police personnel will be punished severely,” the prime minister said. “Those who rioted at the Ephraim Brigade base are like those who riot in Bilin.” Apart from the importance of responding properly to the vigilantism, vandalism, and violence of the settlers, many see this as an inherently positive step in that it will treat Palestinians and Israeli Jews the same. (Netanyahu rejected a proposal that would have labeled them a “terror group.”)

But is it too little, too late? Many have pointed to a past policy of tolerance, or at least kid-glove treatment, of restive and even violent settlers as partly to blame for the current epidemic. “The tendency of the military and the police is to see their own role as protecting the settlers, the Israeli citizens, from the Palestinians,” prominent intellectual Gershom Gorenberg said, “rather than to fulfill their proper role, which is being responsible for keeping order and public safety in territories under military authority.” Further complicating this dynamic is the large (in fact, outsize) presence of religious Zionists in the armed forces—and indeed, there is concern that some soldiers tipped off the settlers who stormed a base in the northwest West Bank earlier this week.

Hopefully this will be a wake-up call. Past coddling of religious Zionists for political purposes—and yes, they were also evacuated out of Gaza, it has not been a complete free ride for them, but more often than not state policy has reflected their wishes—enabled and even birthed this sort of activity, and now, as with price tag attacks generally, that chicken is coming home to roost. The majority of religious Zionists would no doubt repudiate these acts, which is all the more reason the law needs to continue to crack down on the Jewish criminals without bias or prejudice in their favor. You don’t want the proof that you’ve failed to be another Yigal Amir.

Peres: Right-Wing Violence a ‘Disaster’ That Must Be Stopped [Haaretz]
Israel Leader Sets Curbs on Settlers for Violence [NYT]
Netanyahu: Jewish Extremists Not a ‘Terror Group’ But Will Be Given Military Trial [Haaretz]
Israel Has Long History of Lenience Toward Jewish Extremists [AP/WP]
Earlier: Who Buys ‘Price Tag’ Crimes?

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

While I agree with most of the article, I question your citing of “prominent intellectual Gershom Gorenberg.” He is actually on the extreme left politically, and has a long history of criticizing those living in the West Bank; he is affiliated with The American Prospect. His criticisms are to be expected but do not shed any objective light on this matter.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Jewish Violence Leads to Legal Equality

Settlers attacking soldiers treated same as Palestinians attacking soldiers

More on Tablet:

Why the Teenage Girls of Europe Are Joining ISIS

By Lee Smith — Because they want the same things that teenage boys want: a strong sense of meaning and purpose