Sunday, September 06, 2015

She Came To Pillory, Not To Praise

Sara Hirschhorn has an op-ed in the New York Times (see below) and I will deal with its contents further on but one element jumped out at me and so I left a comment there and it is this:

"Settler rabbis and the leaders of American immigrant communities in the West Bank have either played down their crime or offered muted criticism."

That assertion is either a lie or a sign of ignorance to my mind.  Or a dubious misrepresentation of the reality.  Either Sara is an op-ed columnist or she is an academic, at east in this stage of her life.

More than three dozen Rabbis, leading Rabbis from within the Gush Emunim/Yesha camp, Rabbis of communities, signed a proclamation entitled "Thou Shall Not Murder" and more joined later.  Here

Leading spokespersons of the Yesha Council denounced the act as they have done for the past years, notably by Dani Dayan and others. So have educators like the head of the most prestigious pre-Army mechina. Rabbi Haim Druckman issued a strong statement. Tzohar Rabbis, too. There is also this story and even I upped the poster at my FB account.  There was an interfaith event in Gush Etzion. Well, sort of interfaithIf she was looking for a serious moral problem she should have pointed the finger at the Palestinian Authority and its attitude towards the killing of Jews.  The few Rabbis that were equivocal in their pronouncements are either part of the 'price tag' thinking or known for their out-of-camp views and no one follows them.  Maybe she relied on this claptrap.  Of course, for some people, there is never enough evidence that some people are not doing the wrong thing.  

Pillorying is easier than praising.

I know Sara, even well, and here we are in the hills back of Shiloh.  

 tried to assist her in her research and connect her to friends.  No regrets.  Luckily, she found a wealth of documentation to trace the history of Jewish Americans in the early days of the revitalization of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria and Gaza then as well.

I am aware that Sara doesn't think this is happening enough.  Condemnations should be louder and stronger in her opinion.  By the way, did the PA condemn an American's act of terror in the driver-by murder of Malachi Rosenfeld?

She assumes that 'price tag' activities are being tolerated like this person publishing in the Jewish Press.  She probably would have me send out of our community someone like my neighbor Era Rappaport who was sentenced to prison for an attack on a terrorist leader even after he fulfilled the terms of his imprisonment and punishment.  Raising money for his defense fund seems to be a crime in her mind.

Our fundamental respect for life, she assumes, has been lost.

We Shilonians turned in a 'price-tagger', who did not live in Yesha, who had broken windows of the cars of Arab laborers in Shiloh parked outside our entrance gate.  A recent inflammatory poster on churches didn't last the night on our billboards. We need no patronising lecturing.

I could, of course, quote Rabbi Elazar in the Midrash Tanhuma, at Metzora :

he who is merciful to the cruel, in the end becomes cruel to those who are merciful

But the fact of the matter is that not of our initiative, we are in a terror war, one the Arabs have directed almost totally exclusively against the unarmed and defenceless, especially children.  It was launched in the political sense in April 1920 although anti-Jewish violence meant to prevent Jews from buying property and repopulating the land of the Jewish homeland reached back into the mid-1850s.

If many people can seek to support and justify an Arab claim to establish an independent state of Palestine after all this terror, this ongoing terror, then I admit, I feel no moral inadequacy in this matter for as much as the 'price tag' phenomenon is wrong, criminal and senseless, besides being quite unhelpful and even harmful to our enterprise - and Hirschhorn's article is an example of that - I do make comparisons overall and see our moral and ethical standard as much higher than that of our neighbors overall.  After all, we recently learned that the Palestinian Authority promotes a libel, informing all that "Jews of high position" planned an arson attempt at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Duma is nothing compared to what this portends.

As for Duma itself, I am still not convinced Jews perpetrated the torching and until suspects are caught, place on trial and found guilty, I'll be a Western democrat human rights advocate and withhold judgment [UPDATE, in Hebrew: unlike the IDF which is "sure" it's a Jewish terror act].  That would be the ethical stance.  [UPDATE, in Hebrew]

   -     -     -     -     -

And now comments on some excerpts from her op-ed:

Israeli Terrorists, Born in the U.S.A.
Jerusalem — ON July 31, in the West Bank village of Duma, 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was burned alive in a fire. All available evidence suggests that the blaze was a deliberate act of settler terrorism

And exactly how much evidence is that "all"?  Can she explain a Chabad-like graffiti on the wall?  She should have noted that the police were not neutral by not offering the standard reaction of "all avenues of investigation are being followed".

More disturbingly, several of the alleged instigators, currently being detained indefinitely, are not native-born Israelis — they have American roots.  But there has been little outcry in their communities. Settler rabbis and the leaders of American immigrant communities in the West Bank have either played down their crime or offered muted criticism.

See above for quantity and quality.

After years of impunity for settlers who commit violent crimes, Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, has now supposedly cracked down 

Impunity or perhaps bad police procedures or being fixated on certain subjects, the wrong ones?

by rounding up a grand total of four youths believed to be connected to recent acts of settler terrorism — three of whom trace their origins to the United States.

So, that's it?  Four?  And they are only suspects.

...Rabbi Shlomo him, settlers were now the victims. “We’re not fighting against an enemy who plays by the same rules as we do,” he argued. “Given the cruelty and barbarism of the Arabs to their own people, our ethical imperative is not to commit suicide.” 

And he is wrong?

...many mainstream American settlers...have also learned the value of speaking fluent liberalese on the international stage. By translating Scripture into sound bites, Jewish-American settlers have played a pivotal role in the public relations rebranding of the Israeli settler movement — and these professed liberals are now helping to deflect attention from crimes committed by Jews.

No, we are not.

For all their protestations that they are good liberals, many American settler leaders have been deafeningly silent on recent acts of Jewish terrorism...Where are their op-eds in American and Israeli newspapers condemning violent Jewish extremism?

The NYTimes, The Forward, etc. do not publish me for I am a "settler".

For four decades, their condemnation has often been either muted or tempered by attempts to play down Jewish terrorism by framing it as an issue of “understanding the context” — a euphemism for reacting to Palestinian violence. 

And, for a scholar, context is ... wrong? is not enough for Jews to preach to Palestinians that moderates must speak out, murderers must be cast out, and incitement must be stopped without taking the same aggressive steps within their own communities.

And it is not enough for Sara and fellow liberals to preach solely to the Jews.  Or to castigate them unfairly, especially to promote a book, based on her PhD dissertation, like her forthcoming “City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement Since 1967.


P.S.  I see now that the Israeli government is to blame:.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has said it holds the Israeli government "fully responsible" for the death of Riham Dawabsheh, the mother of a Palestinian toddler killed in an arson attack on 31 July in a Palestinian village in the West Bank...Saeb Erekat, Palestinian chief negotiator, called the assassination a consequence of a "culture of hate that has been developing in Israel by supporting settlements and apartheid", which, he claimed, is fuelled by "hate speech, settlement expansion and the impunity granted to Israel by the International community".



Elihu D. Stone said...

You have a way to reach Sara? She seems to be missing some fundamental points that you have pointed out -. I attended the peace rally at the Gush Etzion junction and wrote on this issue just afterwards

Anonymous said...

Received this comment:

"Why is it that the shabak can't get a hold on and the control the Hill Top youth? They are so good at controlling the Arabs. Its because the enormity of the the danger doesn't exist. They make it up. If they know who to blame for the killing of the baby in Duma, then where are the culprits?
So dozens of Hill Top Youth, including my grandchild, were put under administrative detention for 6 months. He is restricted to Amona and cannot even go down the hill into Ofrah unless he uses the continuation of the road to enter the pre-1967 borders. How stupid can they get? To get to "Israeli" Jerusalem he must pass through half of Yehuda and Shomron, but he cannot stop on the way. They are doing this in order to show that they are hot on the tail of the murderer of the baby. They are doing this insanity because their enemy does not exist but they want to show they are doing "something".
These teenagers are too Jewish for them. These kids with long peyot, are in their perverse thinking a threat to their cultural dominance."

Herb Glatter said...

It's time for a new Jewish tradition - EXCOMMUNICATION - of the way too many traitors in our midst. They feed into Jew hatred from time immemorial. Enough is enough.

YMedad said...

Herb, in a word, no.

YMedad said...

I found this comment at the NYT:-

"Seth Israel
Dear Dr. Hirschhorn,
I recently attended your talk at Limud in Jerusalem. At that time you presented a fascinating and i would emphasize complex and nuanced view of the settler movement. This editorial is far from that. More importantly, you make the unsubstantiated observation that the actions of these Jewish terrorists have not been condemned. As you well know many Rabbis in Israel condemnedthe action as well as many Rabbis from abroad. The President, Prime Minister and other official condemned the action, and you were here to hear those condemnations and to hear of the commitment to riding the society of such people. I dare say tat since you were in Israel, you have very little information about what was written in US papers following the incident.

This smacks of a publicity grab to sell your book.

However, I hope you read carefully the firestorm of comments you unleashed. I have. If this does not make you cringe, your politics and your concern for Jewish welfare is suspect. You have people talking of apartheid of the State never being created, of Jewish attempts top exterminate another people. I wondeer how comfortable you are with the support you have corralled.

Moreover, you stated that you would not let your politics enter into your objective study of the settler phenomenon. Given your current rant, my initial interest in your book has waned (I commented positively to you at the talk). You probably do not care because you decided to pull in others.

Anonymous said...


"she actually based some her research on iVoteIsrael's data...her conclusions (from what I have seen so far) are completely off.

She claims to have gotten that there are 170,000 Americans in Israel from Haaretz. Haaretz got that number from iVoteIsrael in 2012 which determined that there were 160,000. Before 2012, nobody had gone on the record with a concrete number of Americans, and at the end of the campaign, just about everyone was tracked down, the # that came up was 160K, which was widely accepted in all Israeli media as well as intl. So Haaretz just estimated another 10K between 4 yrs of NBN olim, births, etc.

The only problem is that the 160K is 18 years or older (Americans who can vote), the actual number of Americans (in 2012) is 250K.

On top of that she claimed that there were 60K in YESHA which is not even close - 20K is a generous estimation."