Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Price Tag of Vigilantism

I received an e-mail this morning from someone I truly admire who took me to task for criticizing the ‘Price Tag’ settlers without reference to the injustice of ‘screaming, crying, terrified Jewish children who are pulled out of their beds in their pajamas on a school night by their own Jewish police and soldiers’.

I had no idea that this happened and it is indeed an appalling tactic. There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with illegal settlers. And if the description is correct – this was definitely the wrong way. But as I said to my e-mail correspondent – two wrongs don’t make a right.

If the police and soldiers crossed some lines - the response of those ‘price tag’ settlers crossed lines too. Lines that could easily endanger other Jews. This would not be the first time Islamic fundamentalists resorted to a suicide bombing or rocket attacks in retaliation for something like this.

It is not up to these settlers to decide which government policies are right and which are wrong. Vigilante justice is not justice at all. And in this case the targets of these vigilantes were innocent people. Their Muslim house of worship was vandalized and desecrated.

There is only one word to describe what they did. Terrorism. They may not have killed or injured anyone. This time. But it was terrorism nonetheless. Their goal was to strike fear into the hearts of their Arab neighbors. These neighbors probably never lifted a finger to harm a single one of them. They are innocent people who paid a price for the actions of others.

I guess these ‘wonderful examples of humanity’ had an ethical epiphany. They realized they hit the wrong target. So they made a ‘correction’. From the Forward:

Israeli settlers in the West Bank vandalized an Israel Defense Forces base on Wednesday… (They) infiltrated a base in the Binyamin region and snuck their way to a mechanics workshop on site, where they slashed the tires and cut the cables of 12 army vehicles.

That’ll show the army who’s boss! How dare the army throw them and their families out of their homes?!

Here’s is what I think. Arrest those who did this and after convicting them of their crimes (which in my view may include treason) - put them in a prison whose general population consists of Palestinian criminals. Maybe they can show those Palestinians who’s boss too – if they survive. What about their wives and children? Maybe those arrogant fools should have thought of that before attacking innocent Arabs and then the very army that protects them from the guilty ones!

OK. I don’t really want to do that. It was hyperbole. They will be brutally murdered in that kind of prison. They do not deserve the death penalty. But it sure would be poetic justice to put them there.