In the wake of two monstrous attacks committed last week in Israel — one, a multiple stabbing at a Jerusalem LGBT parade that left a teenage girl dead, the other a firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank that burned a baby to death — it would be easy to issue a strongly-worded condemnation of Jewish terrorism and be done with it.
Rather, these crimes have led, and must continue to lead, to deep soul-searching within Israel and among those who care for its survival.
A simplistic analysis points to a problem in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (haredi) community. After all, it was a haredi maniac, a man who served 10 years in prison for a prior knife attack on gay Israelis, who committed the fatal parade stabbing.
Similarly, though the perpetrators of the firebombing have not yet been caught, officials believe they sprung from Jewish extremists who have committed many “price tag” attacks against Palestinian, Israeli Arab and even Israeli targets, often in reprisal for Israeli government action against illegal settlement activity.
Multiple lessons may be learned from these incidents, though not all observers seem to have grasped them.
For one thing, we see a tendency, in blogs and op-eds by liberal Jews, to indulge in collective blame. It is unfair to tar the entire haredi community for the actions of a few. In fact, haredi representatives have condemned both crimes; some have paid visits to survivors of the arson attack to express condolences.
That said, it is vital that Israelis acknowledge, as novelist David Grossman wrote in a Haaretz column this week, that “the Jewish terror faction has declared war on the state” and “the government of Israel must fight them just as it fights Palestinian terror.”
Stirring words, so long as they don’t lead to further wrongs. As reported in the New York Times, Israeli minister of internal security Gilad Erdan said police would “take all necessary steps” to catch the perpetrators of the arson, including administrative detention and tiltul, a controversial interrogation technique involving “violent shaking.”
Erdan went on to boast that Jewish terror suspects would be treated the same as Palestinian terror suspects.
While is easy to pass judgment from 8,000 miles away, we feel that applying the same techniques of unlimited detention and torture to Jews that are already being used against Palestinians is not anything to be proud of.
Our deepest condolences to the family of Shira Banki, the Israeli teen stabbed to death in Jerusalem, and to the Dawabsha family in the West Bank village of Duma.