Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Price Tag of Land Idolatry

Meir Ettinger, believed to be the leader of the 'Hilltop Youth'
In a largely unfair and biased attack against Religious Zionism by Open Orthodox Rabbi Shumly Yanklowitz he made reference to something he called ‘Land Idolatry’.  Even though I disagreed with his distorted views about today’s Religious Zionism, that particular phrase struck a chord with me.

First let me be clear. The vast majority of Religious Zionists (Mizrachi) are idealistic religious Jews that focus on the Mitzvah of settling and living in Israel. Most, though not all, see the near miraculous return of Israel into Jewish hands after 2000 years of exile to be a sign of the first flowering of God’s promised redemption. In that vein they concentrate mightily of trying to convince all Jews in the Diaspora to make Aliyah – immigrate to Israel. 

They have in fact been pretty successful in that goal. Chicago was once a completely Mizrachi town. Now it barely has a Mizrachi presence. While there are a number of significant reasons for this, one of them is that the most active members of Mizrachi have actually left Chicago and made Aliyah.

After the 6 Day War in 67, when Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was recaptured, there was an ambitious government campaign to settle it. Today there are several very successful settlements - most of them just the other side of the pre 67 borders.  Religious Zionists - many of them expatriate Americans (among others) live there. They are all law abiding citizens that contribute mightily to their country in a variety of ways.

Even though I might disagree with them on certain issues (for example in their opposition to ‘land for peace’ although for practical purposes I currently agree with them) I have nothing but the greatest respect and even admiration for them. Religious Zionists are for the most part the idealistic cream of Israeli society.

But they too have their extremists. Loving Eretz Yisroel has turned into an idolatry for those extremists. They have taken an ideal and distorted it beyond all recognition. To the point of turning these horribly misguided young Jews into criminal gangs that have depraved indifference to human life.  

They see Arabs as the enemy deserving of indiscriminate death and/or destruction of property.  They call it ‘Price Tag’ attacks. Implying that any atrocities that Palestinian terrorists commit against our innocents are ‘paid back’ to their innocents. 

Their attacks are not limited to Palestinians. They attack government property too when they see policies that are hostile to the settler movement.

These people go deep into the West Bank and set up trailer parks in the middle of Palestinian areas, usually on a hill and call it a Jewish settlement.  (Hence the name Hilltop Youth)

Israel’s Shin Bet (an internal intelligence service comparable to the FBI) reports that there has been a sharp rise in settler youth ‘price tag’ attacks – 13 so far this year. From in the Times of Israel
Earlier this month, vandals torched a mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba in an apparent hate crime attack. Messages of “death,” “revenge” and “price tag” were found graffitied on the walls of the Sa’ada Mosque in the small Palestinian town of several hundred residents. 
Arson?! Innocent people die horrible deaths in arson fires. I recall what one of Chicago’s greatest mayors, Richard J. Daly, said about it when he was mayor. He ordered the police to ‘shoot to kill’ arsonists!  Sounds like a plan to me.

More from the Times of Israel
The week before several cars were vandalized in the northern West Bank village of Fara’ata, near Nablus, in another apparent price tag attack.
Photos of cars with smashed windshields and punctured tires were posted on Palestinian media. This was in addition to various graffiti slogans that were sprayed across walls in the area. Messages including “Stop administrative detentions” and “Administrative price tag” were scrawled on vehicles and buildings. 
I cannot condemn these extremists enough. It makes the extremists of Meah Shearim look tame by comparison.  

It is a major Chilul HaShem when religious Jews with long Peyos (that some of the of those extremists have) go around terrorizing innocent people for revenge. As though those innocent people had anything to do with what they are being attacked for – other than just being Palestinian. This kind of thinking is so warped, it defies logic.

Now I can’t say for a certainty that they are all Religious Zionist Jews. But clearly a young man assumed to be their leader, Meir Ettinger with his long Peyos and large Kipa Seruga is. The Kipa Seruga is the emblematic identifier of Religious Zionist Jews. That is the kind of Kipa warn by most settlers, including these disgusting ‘Hilltop’ animals pretending to be human.

The source for this can be traced to the Religious Zionist Ideal of resettling all of Eretz Yisroel taken to an extreme. Their ideals have morphed into ‘Land Idolatry’. While most Religious Zionists are as disgusted as I am with these miserable excuses for human beings, it cannot be denied that at the core it is a distorted by-product of their settlement activity.

Thankfully that government is taking this seriously: 
Last month, the Lod District Court handed down a five-year prison sentence to a settler teen convicted of membership in a terror organization, for carrying out a string of so-called “price-tag” attacks against Palestinians and their property. 
I’m glad to hear that and would add ‘Kein Yirbu’. May these arrests and prison sentences increase until those extremists eradicated from Klal Yisroel. And that cannot happen soon enough for me!