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Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Wicked Son

[The long-overdue Amona Post]

One of the lessons that has remained most firmly in my memory from the many Passovers I served as bandleader at the Fontainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach is an extremely insightful and non-traditional examination of 'the four sons' section of the seder that a very wise Rabbi shared with me:

In case you're a little fuzzy about this particular section of the Passover Hagaddah, let me refresh your memory:

"The Torah speaks of four children: One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple and one does not know how to ask.

The wise one, what does he say? "What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws which the L-rd, our G-d, has commanded you?" You, in turn, shall instruct him in the laws of Passover, [up to] `one is not to eat any dessert after the Passover-lamb.'

The wicked one, what does he say? "What is this service to you?!" He says 'to you', but not to him! By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore, blunt his teeth and say to him: "It is because of this that the L-rd did for me when I left Egypt"; `for me' - but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!"

The simpleton, what does he say? "What is this?" Thus you shall say to him: "With a strong hand the L-rd took us out of Egypt, from the house of slaves."

As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must initiate him, as it is said: "You shall tell your child on that day, `It is because of this that the L-rd did for me when I left Egypt.'" *

This Rabbi (his name was either Rabbi Felder or Farber... I'm embarrassed that I can't recall), explained that the traditional understanding of 'the four sons' was that they were four children of one family who are addressed differently by the parents according to their respective ability or desire to understand the story of the Exodus from Egypt. 

However, this Rabbi felt that it made more sense if the four sons were viewed as four kinds of children... and more importantly, that the reason for their demeanor and/or receptiveness to accepting the 'statutes and the laws' was based entirely upon the way their respective parents habitually answered them.

He said 'look at the end of each statement... the way the parent has spoken... and you will understand why each son has turned out the way he has'.

Simply put, the 'wise son' is wise because he is given a full explanation and is completely included in the process.  The simpleton is simple because he is spoon-fed only a tiny portion of the information.  The son who doesn't even know how to ask is completely clueless because his parents give him a completely useless explanation that doesn't in any way connect him to the seder or the events it is supposed to commemorate.

But nowhere is this cause & effect relationship more apparent than with the 'wicked son' and the way his parents have ostracized him.  When one pays special attention to the way the wicked son is addressed, it becomes clear that he has become wicked because he's had his 'teeth blunted'... and because he's been excluded from the proceedings and completely disenfranchised.

I've dragged you through this long-winded explanation because I am firmly convinced that for better or worse, religious settlers have been deliberately relegated to the unenviable role of modern day 'wicked sons'.

Starting in the run up to the disengagement this past year, the Sharon government, enthusiastically supported and abetted by the Israeli media, affected an 'about-face' in the way it related to the settler movement. 

From the moment at the Herzylia Conference that Sharon announced that he intended to unilaterally disengage from Gaza, he effectively used both word and deed to disown, marginalize and vilify his ideological child; the settler movement. 

This isn't to say Sharon was its founder or its only advocate... but for two decades he was the leading governmental cheerleader for the settler enterprise... exhorting patriotic Zionist pioneers to "settle every hilltop so no future government can contemplate giving away the land".

But in the wake of Herzylia, his official and unofficial spokespeople immediately began feeding an enthusiastically receptive public statements about various unsubstantiated 'dangers and threats from the extreme right' (code-speak for the settlers).  These statements became defacto justifications for extra-judicial suspension of various civil rights... and the smallest misdeed by a settler, no matter how vehemently condemned by the YESHA leadership, was trumpeted as proof of the danger religious settlers posed to Israel's liberal democracy.

Shockingly, the very core of mainstream Jewish theology - the patient anticipation of the arrival of the Messianic era - suddenly became analogous of the most worrisome aspects of fundamentalist Islam.  Despite thousands of years of every Jew sitting at a seder table and proclaiming their fervent wish for Messianic redemption with the phrase "next year in Jerusalem", the word 'messianist' suddenly became a dirty word.  In the blink of an eye the reasonable views of anyone with a long skirt or kippah were dismissed as the rantings of religious fanatics and zealots.

Make no mistake, there are religious fanatics among the Jews in the settler camp.  But these zealots are a tiny minority who have been 'elected' as representatives of all religious Zionists by those for whom organized Jewish observance of any sort is anathema.

Israeli politicians, both within the  government and without, took careful note of the overt 3-way alliance that developed between Sharon, the secular left and the media.  The lesson that was lost on nobody was that the antipathy with which the majority of the Israeli population viewed the settler movement had allowed self-described libertarians, humanists and liberals to temporarily set aside all the 'inconvenient' trappings of Israel's vaunted liberal democracy in order to justify the shortest possible route to a desired political end.

The irony, of course, is that the consensus among the Israeli electorate was that the only way to finally accomplish the goals of the center-left would be to temporarily adopt the most Machiavellian and extreme mechanisms ever attributed to the far right.

Unfortunately once Sharon was incapacitated, Ehud Olmert and his fellow Kadima coat-tail riders found themselves with a national election looming and quandary of epic proportions:  They had a comatose ideological figurehead and not one person on their party's list with the 'strong-man' credentials necessary to reassure a jittery electorate that they could follow through with Sharon's promise to finally establish Israel's permanent borders.

Olmert, seen by most as, at best, 'Sharon-Lite', found himself with a 'perception problem' at the worst possible time.  He needed to act quickly and decisively to reassure his core constituency that he had the ability to employ certain 'less-than-democratic short-cuts' in dealing with those evil settlers... and that like Sharon, he too was a bulldozer capable of imposing his policies through sheer force of personality.

So, despite the fact that he was the head of a caretaker government in a political party that nobody had elected to power, Olmert decided his only road to a political win was to begin a program of 'dealing firmly' with illegal settlements (many of which had been created with his full knowledge and support).  By most rational standards, such an agenda should have waited until the electorate handed a legal mandate to a coalition selected by the people.

Why he selected Amona - an insignificant collection of 8 or 9 semi-permanent structures - as his object lesson is a matter for conjecture.  My personal feeling is that he needed an easy win... and like any weak bully, he picked a victim he felt was unlikely to give him a bloody nose.

However, two problems immediately became apparent... both of which tie in with my 'wicked son' theory:

First, Olmert horribly underestimated the sense of 'otherness' and disenfranchisement that had taken hold of the teenagers in the settler movement as a result of the unrelenting and heavy-handed rhetoric directed at them.  Last summer they had watched and listened in horror as their own government and media addressed them in very much the same accusatory terms as the wicked son of the Passover seder.  The Israeli public and government in effect said of each settler youth "By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental."   

The second, and perhaps more pressing problem that Olmert overlooked was that despite the 'devil-may-care' attitude of the youthful protesters, there still remained a seasoned moderate leadership in the settler camp, including several Members of Knesset, that were determined to work within the legal system to negotiate, if not a win... than at least a draw.   Unfortunately, with the elections looming and Sharon's over-sized mantle hanging on his lanky frame like a kid wearing his father's suit, Olmert realized that a draw would appear to the majority of Israeli voters exactly like a loss. 

When Olmert refused to consider a reasonable compromise offer by the settler leadership to move the offending structures to the nearby legal community of Ofra within one week, it became clear to all involved that he was determined to foment a direct physical confrontation.  There can be no other explanation for his unwillingness to allow a peaceful, face-saving, resolution to the stand-off.  And his decision to deploy the Yesamim - a para-military police 'special missions unit' whose ranks have been deliberately swelled with non-Jews whose antipathy for religious Jews is legendary - telegraphed a clear message that compassionate hugs and tears were but a distant memory from Gaza. 

The settlers were to play the part of 'the enemy' and the government was sending in combat troops to soundly defeat them.

There are plenty of videos and still pictures from Amona floating around showing clearly what happened.  Several of my neighbors and friends were there and I have been able to hear many first-hand accounts of what transpired.  A neighbor's son heard with his own ears the Yasamim receiving orders to "club them on the head, go straight for the head"... and the films showing the police swinging freely at the unprotected heads of teenagers who were sitting non-violently with arms linked bears this out.

The media reports conveniently blur the division of the injuries by talking about "hundreds of injured protesters and security forces"... but the truth is that almost all of the serious injuries were sustained by the settlers.  There were unsubstantiated reports of a policeman in 'serious condition' yet no such case was ever admitted to the hospital.  There is one well publicized border patrolman who sustained a nasty (but non-permanent) injury to his eye, but that seems to be the most serious police injury.  Likewise, some of my fellow bloggers eagerly reported that a policeman had been stabbed in the stomach and that a settler had drawn a gun... but again, neither of these events were born out with verified injuries or arrest reports. 

Yes, a few policemen were injured... but I when the term 'hundreds' is used in the press, it cannot fairly be spread evenly amongst protesters and police.

The fact that almost nobody was arrested is perhaps the most chilling part of this event.  The role of the police in a democracy is to enforce the law and arrest those who break it.  I will freely admit that civil disobedience is a calculated breach of the law and warrants being arrested.  This is a time-honored form of non-violent protest when all legal means have been exhausted.  The majority of teenagers who showed up were fully prepared to protest non-violently and to be arrested for their civil disobedience. 

But the police showed up to this pogrom without handcuffs and without transport vehicles that one would expect if they intended to arrest large numbers of people.  They did, however, come equipped with full body armor, helmets, steel truncheons and horses. 

Extensive preparations were obviously made... but they were preparations for battle with an enemy, not preparations for enforcement of the law.

Ehud Olmert assumed (correctly, in my opinion) that the majority of Israeli voters hate the settlers far more than they do Hamas.  So in the wake of being caught completely flat-footed by Hamas' win in the PA elections, he opted to regain his composure by playing out the only scenario where he was guaranteed to be perceived as both strong and decisive:  He decided to beat Israel's 'wicked son' like a rented mule.

In the aftermath of the violence, a television crew that was stationed at a Jerusalem hospital recorded an exchange that took place between a police officer and the parents of a teenager who was in serious condition after having his skull fractured by a policeman's metal club.  Unprovoked, the policeman approached the mother and said "It's a shame he didn't die".  When the parents demanded the policeman's identity so they could file a complaint (something that by law is supposed to be displayed and/or offered upon demand), the policeman refused... and another policeman physically dragged the parents away from the scene.

Not surprisingly the public outrage that would have erupted had the para-military action in Amona instead been carried out against any of the thousands of illegal Arab building projects, has failed to materialize. 

President Katzav has expressed his 'shock and outrage' at the excessive and undisciplined use of force by the police.  But his 'shock' was roughly akin to the level of dismay shown by Captain Renault when he 'discovered' gambling going on in Ric's Cafe Americain in Casablanca.  "I'm shocked, shocked to find that [brutality] is going on in here!"

We are entering dark times now that even a weak 'transition government' has received the tacit approval of the populace to treat settlers as 'wicked sons'. 

I think that most anyone who knows me would consider me a moderate... or at least a 'compassionate conservative'.  Well, I feel disenfranchised and lacking equal protection under the law.  I feel that I have no legal recourse or protection for the legitimate expression of my views.  I feel I have been relegated to the status of 'wicked son'... a national whipping boy...  and I categorically refuse to stand passively and be beaten.

It is now a foregone conclusion that the settler blood Olmert shed in Amona will serve as the bonifides of his ability to 'deal decisively with those wicked settlers'... and a grateful left-of-center majority will certainly sweep him into office in the upcoming elections.  It also serves as a clear warning of how future 'dialogues' will unfold between the Israeli government and it's 'wicked sons'. 

Forgotten is the fact that the settler enterprise was a legal creation of successive left- and right-leaning Israeli governments.  Gone are the proud claims of paternity while the very politicians who gave birth to the settler movement and nurtured it in it's youth now actively delegitimize it.  An illegitimate, 'wicked' son is all anyone sees now, and such a child is unlikely to receive sympathy or quarter.

The one thing that Olmert has failed to take into account, though, is that once the wicked son has nothing left to lose... no hope of regaining a place in the family... the only obstacle to that son breaking the dual taboos of fratricide and patricide - is removed. 

I am a moderate... a reasonable, educated person who firmly believes in the rule of law.  But the moment I no longer enjoy the protection of law, then nobody will enjoy its protection.   If there are those in government who want to see me as the wicked son, then I will remind them at every turn that they gave birth to me and then callously sent me away.   

In short, I will behave exactly as they expect me to.

* Source: here

Posted by David Bogner on February 5, 2006 | Permalink

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» The Wicked Son from In Context
David Bogner has crafted a simply devastating indictment of Ehud Olmert's orchestrated assault last week against Amona and its origins in Sharon's 2003 Herzliya Conference... [Read More]

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While I'm still trying to get my thoughts together for my own Amona post (or if they never do come together, I'll give up and move on to another subject), David Bogner of Treppenwitz has written his. As usual, Dave's post is very much worth ... [Read More]

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» The Wicked Son from Somewhere on A1A...
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» Insults to Zionist Jews at the OU Conference from Aliyah Blog
Last night was the official opening of the OUs biennial conference, which is being held in Jerusalem for the second time ever. I saw the schedule in last weeks Torah Tidbits: they had a pre-conference Yarchei Kallah learning program, and ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 23, 2006 11:12:01 PM

Comments

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Good analysis although the decision to evacuate Amona came by court order prior to Sharon's incapacitation, so that part is not 100% accurate (on a micro level) but it is true on a macro level.

The wicked son analogy makes sense.
This is what I have been saying for quite some time.

Posted by: amechad | Feb 5, 2006 3:04:28 PM

Excellent post Treppenwitz.

I agree with you 99%, but my Jewish woman's heart still has a tiny bit of hope that we haven't been backed into a corner, yet. It is time for a deep breath, some prayer, and a little bit of street smarts.

Where we get these street smarts is anybody's guess.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 5, 2006 3:13:11 PM

Amechad... My analysis bears up even on the Micro level. There were countless legal decisions made before Sharon had his stroke. My point was that there was an enormous menu of options open to Olmert... including the option to do nothing until after the elections... but he made a conscious decision to act now in this particular place in a calculatedly violent way. One can't help but wonder at his motivation on all three levels.

Westbankmama... My post was not a call for people to throw up their hands or give up hope. It was just my rather pessimistic view of how we arrived at the crossroads where we find ourselves and where things will likely go from here without a dramatic change in both word and deed by the government.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 5, 2006 3:13:56 PM

OK.... having gritted my teeth through months of reading your protestations that you are a "moderate" - I'm very "happy" to read this post.

Next question: what do "wicked sons" who are married with children and mortgages do against armed and vicious attackers?

Aside from getting the word out to our fellow Jews around the world...

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 5, 2006 4:00:06 PM

Despite your humble nature I highly suggest that you send your post to some well-read news organizations both in Israel and abroad. It presents the information clearly and perhaps some gutsy editor will support it's publication.

I have two comments. 1) As one who believes that God gifted the entire land of Israel to the Jews only, I understand that this gift and our general peace and quiet comes with conditions. One of these is the love and respect of each other. Rightly or wrongly (rightly in my opinion) the "frum" are held to a higher standard of everything. Imagine, then, how God feels looking at the way these Jews treat themselves and those around them, treat even others who also consider themselves observant - let alone the way the secular are often mistreated. It happens enough to be considered a known phenomena. Our fate is in our own hands on a social level before a military one. 2) There are no significantly funded organizations that are spending the money or lobbying for any of this. I have visited OU.org, UJA.org and many of the other Websites of the richest and/or more powerful Jewish organizations. Not a thing about this issue. For now, these Jews are too afraid/paranoid/uninterested to create a public awareness campaign that stains Israel. If they continue to carry the banner that Israel is a "democracy," America's ally, we have no grounds to get involved as dissenters, etc. then the steamrolling of settlers, and soon others who even seem to support them, will intensify.

Just wait awhile - soon those with kippot in Israel will be targets, just like anywhere else. First the name-calling, then the knocking off from the heads of kids, then the not getting a job because of it, or not being treated equally in stores, restaurants...this will come to pass in our generation, until first the "religious" end all differences, respect each other, and then agree to collectively reach out to help others see that it is only a genetic love and passion for the soul of our land that drives the actions of the religious and nothing else - not money, not power, not politics. But until then, brace for what's coming and hope you don't get directly in the way.

Posted by: yonah | Feb 5, 2006 4:33:26 PM

Well, in anticipation of this post I had planned to ask you whether you thought that this event would act to polarize or act as a "wake up" call that things were spiralling down and that serious dialogue was needed between the settler movement and the Israeli establishment in order to avert disaster.
I guess you answered that.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Feb 5, 2006 5:16:48 PM

Well said, Mr. B. One thing we all have to remember is to never ever do something we might regret. Making a chilul Hashem is the last thing that one would want to do, and would be totally counter-productive.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 5, 2006 5:18:11 PM

Wow...heavy reading for a Sunday morning. I liked the analogy very much. Very well said.

Posted by: Essie | Feb 5, 2006 5:26:52 PM

Ben-David... I hate the idea that anyone would have to grit their teeth through anything I write. I can't count the number of times I have had to admit that I was either dead wrong in something I've written here, or at least hedge my thinking a bit. If you really feel I am wrong, don't be shy. With that said, I still maintain my right to call myself a moderate. I respect the rule of law, so long as the law is applied equally and evenly. I respect the extremely difficult job that the police and border patrol have to do day in and day out to keep me safe, but that doesn't mean the government always makes judicious or even legal use of these forces. I have personally witnessed flagrant and unprovoked brutality on the part of regular police and yasamnikim. I have also personally witnessed unbelievable acts of kindness and professionalism by various police personnel. Unfortunately, just as I am judged by the bad actions of a tiny minority of settlers, the police must bear the scrutiny that comes from the bad actions of some of their number.
As to suggesting what to do... I have just started to get my head around the events... so there is no way I would venture any suggestions as to what should be done.

Yonah... I'm just thinking out loud here. It would be extremely foolish for me to foist my personal ideas on an unsuspecting world. Those who come here on a regular basis know me enough to know that whether I write it or not, there is an implicit ..."or I could be full of sh*t" at the end of every post... especially the political ones.

Lisoosh... Every attempt was made to create a dialogue and reach a compromise that would serve everyone's interest. The government made it clear that they wanted a victory, not just a win.

tnspr569... I have long since stopped worrying about what our familial infighting looks like to the rest of the world. I am simply looking for a fairly even application of the rules for all parties involved.

Essie... Thanks. I was up much of the night thinking about this.


Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 5, 2006 5:27:20 PM

I found your article very biased. Many of the demonstrators were ready for violent conflict. The IDF knew this, they were ready for it. The court ruled Amona was settled illegally. Is their any reason that this soldier should have had glass thrown on him?:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1138622548960&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

This refusal by the settlers to move is very similar to the Arabs refusal to accept a Jewish majority state in 1948. They waited for it to be official and went to war.

The fact that Israel may have created this is absolutely no reason for the settlers to act like Arabs.

And I'm not a Liberal. I'm more of a Centrist. But I believe that the law matters in these circumstances and I respect the law.

Israel has many decisions to make constantly to protect it's citizens. I have no problem with non violent lobbying, but once that fails, Jews should not attack Jews, and that is what the demonstrators did. The IDF should not be even considered to be at fault here in any way shape or form.

Posted by: The Atheist Jew | Feb 5, 2006 6:01:08 PM

Treppenwitz,

I am a big fan of your writing. (And a colleague of your's btw, so I guess we are both guilty of wasting company time!)

But the right wing analysis of Disengagement as Anti-Religious Pogrom fails to take into consideration the kippot-srugot-wearing Israelis like myself that support unilateral withdrawal and view the settlers (some of whom, including some who were injured at Amona, are our close kin) as those who chose to act like spoiled children throwing a tantrum.

There are many of us who believe that, notwithstanding the evil that resides in Ramallah and the unfairness of having to return something that should be our's, demographics, democratic principles, strategic and socio-economic imperatives and the ultimate purpose of Am Yisrael b'Eretz Yisrael all combine to make it "adeef" to leave than to remain.

This doesn't make us, or Sharon or Olmert or the other Kadimaniks, anti-religious. It makes us realists.

The vast majority of Israelis supported Disengagement. Current polls dominated by Kadima are evidence of this. Regardless, a majority of the Knesset voted for it and it was law. The Gush Katif residents and their settler supporters who resisted it violently (call me crazy, but I call pouring caustic substances – or any substance really, since that is textbook assault - on policemen violent) were law breakers who succeeded in nothing more than a great chilul hashem.

They weren't the first to be asked to sacrifice for the State. But instead of leaving like heroes, they chose to become the butt of jokes, at best, and enemies, at worst.

Amona is an even worse situation than Gush Katif, and not at all a good example. Amona was an illegal outpost. Nobody denies this. Complaining that the police removed it and not illegal Arab houses is like the burglar caught red-handed who complains because the police arrested him and not the guy breaking into the house next door.

Posted by: President of Kippot Srugot for Kadima | Feb 5, 2006 6:14:33 PM

Amona was an illegal outpost. Nobody denies this. Complaining that the police removed it and not illegal Arab houses is like the burglar caught red-handed who complains because the police arrested him and not the guy breaking into the house next door.

I am just a Jew in America so my opinion on this will probably carry a little less weight than someone in Israel, but your comment bothered me.

I have seen pictures and video footage of what happened at Amona. It has come from both sides and each time I am left shaking my head.

I shake my head because of the ferocity of the police. I fail to see how their actions were warranted and how clubbing people indiscriminately could do anything other than lay the groundwork for bad feelings.

I believe that Israel is Jewish land and that it was given to us by G-d. But at the same time I do not expect everyone to believe as I do.

I do not expect the rest of the world to simply accept Torah as being binding.

As such I am not a fan of building settlements left, right and center. I think that it is far better to do so in a careful and thoughtout fashion, but that it a separate issue here.

In this case what I really see is police brutality. I see a confrontation that grew into a conflagoration of unnecessary violence. It is a sad day.

Legal or illegal, the day shouldn't have turned out this way. It could have been handled differently.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 5, 2006 7:30:55 PM

Atheist Jew... Of course my post was biased. It was my opinion written from my viewpoint. You, of course, are entitled to post your viewpoint on your site... and that too will be biased. That's called blogging. Now to address your comments, on what are you basing your statement that "Many of the demonstrators were ready for violent conflict"? Were you there? Did you see them wearing body armor... carrying guns, knives or batons? I know for a fact that the rocks and cement blocks that were thrown were already on the roofs in order to hold down the tarps that keep the rain out of the caravans. The only 'weapons' that were prepared in advance were light bulbs filled with paint, and these were meant to be thrown at the windows of the D9 tractors to make it harder for them to demolish the houses. I believe it is one of these that hit the border policeman in the eye and that is absolutely inexcusable. Your comparison of the settlers to the Arabs is distasteful at best and I won't dignify it with a response. You are, however, 100% correct about the illegality of the settlement and the legality of the court order to demolish it. But you have deftly ignored one of the main thrusts of my post which is that a compromise was offered that would have resulted in the dismantlement of the settlement within a few days without putting anyone at risk. The Defense minister and attorney general both recommended that Olmert accept the offer. Instead he went in with Police combat troops. If I had been there participating in what was supposed to have been civil disobedience and a bunch of mounted storm troopers began swinging for my head I doubt I would have practiced the self control that those teenagers did.

President of ... First off, I NEVER blog on company time. Never. I don't smoke so whenever I see one of my coworkers going out for a cigarette I take that as my cue to log on and see if any comments require a quick response. Now that we've cleared that up... I want to make just one point in response to your well-reasoned comment: You are basing your portrait of settlers on the bad acts of a very few people. I am basing my portrait of government misdeeds based on executed government policy. It is not settler policy to attack or injure the police or soldiers, but the police in Amona clearly had orders to attack and injure the settlers. As I said to the previous commenter, there was a reasonable compromise offer on the table that would have given the government 100% of what it wanted (the dismantlement of this illegal settlement) without putting a single human being at risk. Unfortunately that would have been a draw, and Olmert needed a victory. This was not the decision of someone who views all Jews in Israel as being of equal value under the law.

Jack... Thanks for your thoughts. You will notice that neither of the previous two commenters touched upon the possible reason for the police excesses or why there were almost no arrests. People can harp on the fact that Amona was an illegal settlement all day for all I care. I want as much discussion of what legal boundaries exist for the use of force against unarmed civilians and why they were not adhered to. The fact that the settlers used rocks as makeshift weapons once they were under full attack by the police is at least somewhat understandable to me, though still very regretable.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 5, 2006 8:24:57 PM

Four Sons? Torah? I must have missed that part.

Any nation that believes in doing to ANY children what was done at Amona is not a nation I want anything to do with.

My wife is a Jew of a family that has supported Israel with LARGE amounts of money for four generations. I'm one of the eighty million American Evangelicals (Christian Zionists) that passionately support Israel because we love the Torah, the Patriarchs and passionately believe the Jews are our elder brothers and we are grateful adopted sons of the family. We don't see our difference of opinion about the Messiah as anything to quarrel about. It will all come out in the wash.

None of these feelings apply to godless secularists. (sons of Ahab and Jezebel) Those who beat those kids and those who are happy about it are not my brothers. They must be some sort of godless heathen I can't even understand. I don't know them and am shocked and saddened that they might even be the majority face of Israel. I can't support these people. I don't even care what happens to them. They look just like islamofascist killers to me. I shake off the dust of my shoes towards them.

But then I'm the furthest thing from a fence-sitting-can't-make-up-his-mind moderate.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 5, 2006 8:25:44 PM

David,

If I was a conspiracy theorist I wouldn't have to try very hard to believe that someone was interested in creating a very nasty situation in which the protesters were forced to attack the police.

There is only so long you can watch people be clubbed or ridden down on horses before you try to defend yourself.

But here is the thing that really strikes me. After years of dealing with two intifadas I have to believe that there are several techniques that have been developed for dealing with protesters that do not involve the tactics that we have seen.

Someone wanted to send a message here.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 5, 2006 9:14:08 PM

Jack posted: Someone wanted to send a message here.

Yes. The message was "Don't defend your illegal activities by pouring caustic soda in our eyes, or next time we take the kid gloves off."

I know that only a portion of the Right has resorted to the violence I complain about. But the rhetoric coming from that direction, or at least how it is heard by the Israeli center who now controls government policy, is highly supportive of such actions and has been, for lack of a better word, caustic rather than constructive from the moment things began going against them.

From our perspective, it was the Orange Team that decided to play it rough by blocking roads, burning tires, throwing nails on the highway, sabotaging infrastructure and resisting democractic decisions with violence at Kfar Darom.


From our perspective, it was thr Right that began the demonization of those that dared betray them. Sharon was (a) evil, (b) corrupt, (c) all of the above and that is why he turned to Disengagement. Never was it considered that he simply made a strategic decision about what he thought was best for the country. (All the more troubling for the Right of Center Israelis such as myself who used to be pro-settlement but have changed our minds over time. Are we, too, evil, corrupt or both?)

Why is it that the Right can send their troops to the front line to resist with little talk of moderation but the government, with the law on its side, is blamed for the same? Because the Right uses little children (a tactic they abhor when used by our common enemy, I might add)?

Meanwhile, I am going to spend some time researching Israeli law to see where it says the government has to negotiate with criminal trespassers (a tactic they abhor when used in connection with our common enemy, I might add), as David says they were obligated to do here.

Posted by: President of Kippot Srugot for Kadima | Feb 5, 2006 9:45:42 PM

Scott, Godless Heathens? What do you do when your children disobey authority? Do you teach your kids to spit on police?

The IDF does not represent the Godless. They protect Israel, nothing more and nothing less. 40% of them wear Yarmulkes.

A decision was handed down, and the settlers with all the selfishness in the world even put their protectors in the hospital in some instances. Just shameful behavior.

President, I agree with you. These decisions are well thought out for the betterment of Israel in general. The decisions must be respected.

Trep, I do believe the demonstrators and the IDF were prepared for rock throwing by the demonstrators. It is naive to think otherwise.
And my take on no charges being layed is that Israel did not want to compound the situation. What the demonstrators did was clearly illegal. Hamas just won, there was no need to rub it in this time. Everyone knows the settlers are emotionally charged, but what they did is inexusable.

If you take the religious Jews out of Israel, you lose Israel's spirituality and identity. If you take out the secular Jews, you have an Arab state, with no Jews.

Posted by: The Atheist Jew | Feb 5, 2006 11:02:51 PM

David - I think this is a well written blog, and I share many of your sentiments and think highly of you. With that perspective, let me observe that the blog turned a little bit bitter for me at the end. With the depth of recent events, what with Hamas being elected, chaos in politics, and the heavy-handedness of one Israeli to another, it is all quite upsetting. It makes me upset anyway. However, reading your blog, I note to myself that I would never want to see your compassion and love for your people and country be damaged by the overwhelming weight of events. Whereas I know you will always work toward the betterment of Israel, your last line is open to misinterpretation to those who would seek to undermine your good work. Between the good people of Israel, I think solutions will be found in terms of the settlments. A good solid discussion of this in times to come might be productive.

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 5, 2006 11:14:48 PM

Trepp, I know you (well actually I don't yet but am still planning on that coffee meetup :) and so I know that you didn't mean what it could appear you mean at the end of your post. Go back and re-read it and you can see the impression that someone who doesn't know you might get: you talk about the "son breaking the dual taboos of fratricide and patricide " and then shortly thereafter say "But the moment I no longer enjoy the protection of law, then nobody will enjoy its protection." Warning, warning Will Robinson --please uh like go back and change that around a bit so that there's no chance the just-surfed-on could get the idea that you are contemplating a Yigal.

Posted by: Yael | Feb 6, 2006 12:45:05 AM

A wonderful piece. I'm so sorry it had to be written and very happy that you were the one to write it. I've linked it. You shoulkd publish it.

Posted by: Jeffrey | Feb 6, 2006 1:02:59 AM

David, I'm having difficulty in reconciling the account you give of Amona with the image here of what look like dati (and one non dati) girls carrying bricks, presumably before the violence set in:

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Security/7691.htm

Then there's the account given by Imshin here which also suggests that the police didn't suddenly break into baton wielding violence but resorted to it only after repeated previous attempts at peaceful dispersal were driven off by protesters:

http://imshin.net/?p=291

I am also puzzled by what looks like your use of the term "civil disobedience" in the context of what went on here. I've always understood that to mean purely passive resistance, ie lying down, and definitely not actively physically struggling with police, especially where there is a supreme court order in place.

Your rabbi clearly inspired you, but the interpretation seems to fly in the face of the text, which appears to present a divine or at least Chazal *instruction* to parents on how to *respond to* particular questions the sons ask.

So I find it difficult to read it as implying that the Rasha (or any of the others) are a sort of just desert for how we've treated our children. Especially as you then use it to appear to justify the implication that you will behave in a Rasha sort of way.

Which, as the text tells us, is to withdraw oneself from the Klal.

Ultimately, can a society stand where its members say, I'll only obey your laws and your courts if you exercise them in the ways I personally think you should?

These are surely difficult times. I should say that one of my distant in-law cousins is the bandaged man at the top of this page:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3209509,00.html

Posted by: Judy | Feb 6, 2006 2:05:19 AM

Yes. The message was "Don't defend your illegal activities by pouring caustic soda in our eyes, or next time we take the kid gloves off."

I don't defend violence by other side. I don't know the whole story and I suspect that most people don't either.

In such an emotionally charged environment you usually find that the truth is somewhere in the middle of what both sides claim that it is.

And I agree that it is the height of foolishness to attack those who protect you, but at the same time I expect the gov't to have better alternatives to use than metal batons.

Part of what bothers me is that this whole incident seems to be something that should have been lower on the list of priorities. Why did it need to happen now.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 6, 2006 2:42:35 AM

It's amazing! This past Friday I was talking to someone about the situation and worded my response to a critic of the settlers in a very similar way - that although the guilty parties should be arrested and that I'm all for the rule of law, the government bears the responsibility for alienating the settlers from the rest of the population. Thank you for citing the rabbi's explanation of the sons - it does seem very logical; a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 6, 2006 5:40:11 AM

Irina and Jack - agreed; you share my sentiments, along with some of the main points of Treppenwitz. This particular topic is troublesome for me, as it seems to involve mostly well-intentioned people. I must admit I have been checking to see the additional comments pretty often, even taking time away from the Superbowl (with our Seattle team playing ... ;)

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 6, 2006 5:58:41 AM

Seattle,

Some of the worst situations I have ever been involved in have been a part of my own or others good intentions.

This divide in Israel is not new and not something I am particularly pleased about. Granted I am here in the states but in some ways it is not so different from the stupid Red State/Blue state comments we hear almost daily.

The reality is that there are people out there who would be only too happy to hurt us, Israel especially.

I am not real interested in spending a ton of time blaming people or pointing fingers as my personal opinion is that we have more pressing issues.

However the more I think about it the more disgusted I am by the actions of people on both sides.

I don't have too much more to add right now other than I am even less interested in hearing the ridiculous comments of some people who say that all will be well because G-d will protect us and hurt those who try to harm us.

I believe in G-d but I don't believe in magic walls/barriers or other miracles suddenly manifesting themselves to protect us.

We, people of flesh and blood are responsible for protecting ourselves, each other and by extension our fellow Jews.

This internecine fighting leads us on a dangerous path.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 6, 2006 7:19:19 AM

Judy,
It's extremely important to look at footage and testimonies from all sides, just not the sources you quoted. Perhaps then, you will see some of the passive resistance that is spoken about and the very disturbing and frightening images of the police in action.

http://www.landofisrael.info/Video/amona-alimut.wmv

Posted by: jamie | Feb 6, 2006 7:34:07 AM

"President" continues to bring up the caustic soda libel. But last week, it was once again put to rest -- or at least so reported by Arutz 7 ("Many protestors at the Kfar Darom expulsion in Gush Katif were indicted based on reports that caustic soda was thrown at policemen, but the latest tests show no evidence that it was thrown."). While I realize that their reporting is sometimes less than objective, it is no more so than the leftist Israeli media. And I haven't seen anything to discredit this story.

Posted by: Lynn B. | Feb 6, 2006 8:36:26 AM

David, I read your post with increasing despair. You clearly mulled over this for several days before posting in order to allow intellect to prevail over emotion. I am concerned you didn't wait long enough.

I have little to say about this whole terrible episode except to ask that 'Am Yisrael (the Jewish People) be put above Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). What we saw in Amona was not the goal of Zionism, religious or not. The behavior of both sides is inexcusable, but the rule of law must be maintained. The imperative to settle the land does not supercede the imperative to follow the laws of the State of Israel. To believe otherwise is not Zionism, it is religious fanaticism. I am sorry you feel disenfranchised, but part of living in a society is obeying the law, even if we don't like it. Break the law and suffer the consequences (though I agree the punishment in Amona was overly brutal, and there were better, alternative solutions).

To put our love of the Land above the love for our fellow Jews (whether we think they are wrong or have "sinned") is idolatry of the worst kind. Unfortunately, this is what is being taught to the settler youth by many of their rabbis and leaders, this is what lead to Amona, this is what lead to Yigal Amir, and it has to stop. The continued existence of not only the State of Israel, but the entire Jewish people (as we know it now) depends on it. Cooler heads (such as yours) and Ahavat Yisrael, the love of Israel, not the land but the people, must prevail.

The rest is commentary.

Posted by: wanderer | Feb 6, 2006 9:03:03 AM

Bravo, Wanderer.

What has driven many of us kippot-srugot to the center is the realization that we must reconnect with Hashem's purpose in putting us here: "l'hiot or lagoyim". This is impossible while we focus our attention on the Palestinian problem and on the goal of settling all of the land rather than on building a better society within safer borders that will bring glory to His name and prepare the world for His acceptance.

Posted by: President of Kippot Srugot for Kadima | Feb 6, 2006 10:22:01 AM

Wanderer: thank you for eloquently and simplistically asserting that our future chance for peace lies in our ability to put people -- live human beings and their imminent safety, before all else.

That being said, I think that the one excrutiatingly overlooked fact that all who support the rights of the police and military to "do whatever was necessary" with regards to the protestations of the settler movement is that the police and military by FAR exceeded what was necessary. These enforcers of "law and order" abused their positions to further a political agenda.

Trep has already gone on record in denouncing violent behavior towards our security forces -- be it police, mishmat gvul, or military. Where though, are the voices denouncing the excessive use of violence against those who attempted to demonstrate peacefully?

The law allows for different levels of crime. One would ostensibly not execute a teenager arrested for misdemeanor possession. Likewise, inflicting severe physical harm on a citizen engaged in peaceful acts of civil disobedience can not be tolerated. If our security forces and those who control them wish to be respected and appreciated then they need to respect and appreciate those whom they serve.

The disenfranchisation of the settler movement is a terrifying development -- it is the result of being turned away for wearing the wrong color, for wearing evidence of an observant life-style, and for believing that this land was devinely bequeathed to us. It is terrifying because this disenfranchisement is a deliberate and calculated strike by our own brethren. In an time where the left embraces the rights of all other people and cultures, there has been a profound lack of "tolerance" toward us. Even as we continue to positively contribute in all aspects of society.

It defies logic that we should negotiate with those who continue to launch Kassams into our towns and smuggle human bombs onto our buses and into our cafés, while simultaneously maintaining that there is no room to speak to those who point out that unconditional territorial concessions might further endanger our nation.

Posted by: zahava | Feb 6, 2006 10:25:41 AM

Judy - much of Imshin's post is that blogger's own editorializing about the images seen on TV.

The police's claim that they initially approached non-violently must be seen against the preponderance of other reports, and even contradictory evidence. For example:

- the logistics involved in bringing mounted police to such a remote area indicate that this was part of the plan. The notion that mounted police were even necessary for such a small group is ludicrous.

- there was no preparation for the peaceful detention of protesters, which is the appropriate reaction to peaceful, passive civil disobedience. There were no police vans to take the detainees for processing - instead buses of riot police.

- it's unlikely that the police did anything at 4 AM - at that time the army and the settler movement were still trying to push through a peaceful agreement, similar to the agreement reached a week before in Hebron. It's unlikely that the Army would have gone ahead with any sort of action at that point.

This history - and the quashing of peaceful resolution by a left-leaning judge and Olmert himself - indicate that Olmert had been shopping the territories for opportunities to incite violence.

- There is no clear evidence that these teenagers were in any way more prepared for violence than they have been in countless similar incidents over the past few months. Clutches of tenns have been evacuated from several illegal outposts in Samaria over the winter - in all cases only passive resistance was offered, and in those cases as well there was intense and sometimes disproprotionate violence on the part of the police - although not on the bloody scale of Amona.

The photos I have seen indicate that the teens built large barricades out of bricks, then hid behind them. The photos show rows of kids with arms linked - people only strike out at the police when they are attacked.

I really do think you should look at some of the pictures. There is simply no way to justify this response to passive civil disobedience - and in a situation in which the adult representatives of the settler movement had already hammered out an agreement and were working for calm resolution.

Olmert went shopping for a provocation. The pronouncements about "the rule of law" are what one would expect from the mouthpieces of a banana republic - which is what Sharon, and now Kadima, is making of Israel's already iffy democracy.

Additional aspects of the "official" reports - attempts to equate the number of soldiers and civilians wounded, assertions of seriously injured policemen that never seemed to pitch up at hospital - culminating in the roughing up by police of a man photographing the wounded teens as they came off the ambulances at Hadassah - indicates just how far we've progressed down this dark road.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 6, 2006 10:54:15 AM

Scott... Oy. Do we need to have 'the talk' again about name calling and offensive language. You are a bright fellow with many more years of life experience than I. I want to learn from you but you make it very hard when you deliberately choose the most inflammatory language possible in your comments. Being right isn't enough if your words are impossible for the other side to read or hear.

Jack... Add to that the fact that Olmert categorically refuses to convene an independent committee to examine the events (including the level of force used by the police).

President of... As someone else has pointed out, dragging out a discredited libel does not advance your otherwise interesting points. And 'taking the kid gloves off' suggests to me that you condone any level of violence against an illegal action, without regard to proportion or scope. The Israeli Center hears precisely what it wants to hear and ignores the rest. It has decided to see the most violent fringe elements of the right as representatives of all religious settlers and is equally willing to ignore and/or forgive institutional policy of abuse and illegal action by the government and its agencies. This is what I was talking about. Something in your previous comment bothered me for most of last night and this morning I finally figured out what it was. Your comparison between the settlers and thieves is wrong-headed. A more apt comparison would be if police were only pulling over speeders who were black or Hispanic. I have no problem with enforcement of the law so long as it is enforced equally. This isn't a case of someone complaining at having been caught in the act... it is a case of all the illegal acts being equally visible to the police and government yet only illegal acts by religious settlers are singled out for action.

Athiest Jew... This will be my last response to you because you have ignored my post and my responses and decided to carry on with an unfounded accusation. The overwhelming majority of injuries were sustained by the demonstrators. The police were not there to arrest but rather to attack and injure. some of the greatest advances in the world today were achieved through illegal civil disobedience. Civil rights and the establishment of India as an independent state come to mind. In both cases civil disobedience was met with unwarranted violence and in some instances answered with violence. The fact that the disobedience was illegal or even considered insurrection does not have anything to do with the justness of the cause. You ahve refused to respond to my questions about why films show seated teenagers with arms linked being clubbed and trampled. You have refused to address the issue of how much force is legal and acceptable. You have refused to address my points about different treatment under the law for religious settlers and others. Therefore I refuse to entertain any further discussion with you.

Seattle... It was supposed to turn bitter at the end. Treppenwitz isn't a comic strip or humor column that only deals with safe subjects. It is my journal and it fairly accurately reflects my mindset and worldview on any given day. I'm sorry you caught me on a bad day. The last line was deliberately left open to interpretation just as the government actions against religious settlers can be interpreted in more than one way.

Yael... As I responded to Seattle, the rapid decline of this post at the end was quite deliberate. No, I am not about to go 'Yigal Amir'. But I would say that it is fair to take from this post that I would never take part in any sort of civil disobedience in this country so long as the government and police show such a shocking lack of restraint. Not one of the dissenting commenters on this post has dared addressed the main issue of illegal and disproportionate violence against settlers because of who they are. I don't attend these demonstrations out of any lack of conviction or sympathy for the cause... but rather because if I was ever standing peacefully with my arms linked with a neighbor and one of these cossocks tried to take my head off with a metal club... there would be one less cossock in the world and I would likely spend the rest of my days in Jail. So I don't participate in demonstrations. Clear enough.

Jeffrey... I'm afraid from the reaction it has garnered that I have lost whatever 'moderate' credentials I may once have had. I have no problem with dessenting comments on this post. In fact I expected them. I'm just disappointed at those who have ignored my points about Olmerts motivation to refuse a reasonable compromise and employ excessive force in uprooting these evil settlers, and instead simply say "well, they were acting illegally so what did they expect?".

Judy... I have a tremendous amount of respect for Imshin and despite her anger at a blanket characterization of police as losers and sub-human, she hasn't yet dealt with the central issue of how much force was used by the police. If one watches the coverage of the events from start to finish (as I have) it is clear that the police came prepared to act violently and the orders that were issued (within earshot of the demonstrators) to swing for the heads is contrary to every police and military instruction about the use of batons. I was raised to respect police not just for who they are but also for what they represent. Their power and authority flow from the government and raising a hand against a policeman is essentially insurrection against the government. But there are cases where police have crossed red lines in the use of force and that is where IIMHO) they lose the moral and legal high ground. A policeman can arrest me and take me into custody if I break the law. He may not physically abuse me or use life-threatening force to subdue me when I offer no threat or resistance. If he does this I am no longer obligated to treat him as an agent of the law because he has lowered himself to the role of an illegal assailant against whom I have the right and duty to defend myself.

Jack... My point exactly (and one which all the dissenting commenters have ignored). This didn't have to happen at all. The government was granted an early bloodless victory when the settler leadership offered to move the buildings themselves within one week and leave the area peacefully. Why has not one commenter taken up this issue? The reason (IMHO) comes back to the 'wicked son' issue. When you have a wicked son it isn't enough that he back down... you also have to punish him for having transgressed in the first place. Amona was about meeting out punishment, not upholding the rule of law.

Irina.... The government bears SOME of the responsibility of alienating the religious right. Some of that responsibility must remain with the fringe elements who are interested in a theocracy and not a democracy. I can't answer for them because they do not have anything to do with what I'm discussing here.

Lynn B... I agree. Some commenters remain fixated on tings that have nothing whatsoever to do with this post or the points contained therein. I will concede that whether or not the libels of Gaza were true (I believe they were not), the media bears some responsibility for creating an atmosphere where the two sides believe the other capable of such horrible deeds.

Wanderer... You have no idea how many posts I have written and discarded as having been helpful for me personally but completely unhelpful to anyone who might read them. I don't think it is my responsibility to completely censor myself and remove any trace of anger or bitterness when I feel them. I do, however, feel it is my responsibility to think 2 or three times about each word I publish because of what others may take from it. I stand by my points. Illegal action begets illegal action. Disenfranchisement and alienation beget an attitude of having nothing to lose. Dangerous violence and extra-judicial punishment of a group based entirely on its appearance and/or beliefs begets civil war. I can't whitewash such plain truths.

Ben-David... Thank you for a well-reasoned itemization of the central issues yet to be addressed by dissenting commenters. I will, however, defend Imshin's right to editorialize on her site as I do quite a bit of it here on mine. She makes many very valid points about the essential role of police in society and she is justifiably outraged at anyone who would make a blanket condemnation of such an essential fiber in the fabric of our (any) society. While I stand by my assertion that the assamnikim have a terrible history of excessive violence against religious Jews (including anti-religious verbal incitement I have heard with my own ears), in this case the main issue was that they were under orders from the government to use a heavy hand against the settlers... to make an example of them. This doesn't excuse them. As police they should know the difference between a legal and illegal order to use excessive force. But my main issue is with the government and how it feels it has a mandate to treat religious settlers this roughly.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 11:37:50 AM

These pictures - and the first-hand accounts accompanying them - can in no way be squared with a democracy's response to unarmed, passive civil disobedience:

A few websites with pictures and eyewitness accounts in English:
http://www.mentalblog.com/2006/02/batons-of-amona.html
http://muqata.blogspot.com/2006/02/amona-it-hurts-so-bad-updated.html
http://muqata.blogspot.com/2006/02/amona-revisited.html
http://benchorin.blogspot.com/2006/02/here-is-what-really-happened-in-amona.html

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 6, 2006 11:38:07 AM

For another article about inappropriate violence by policemen in Israel see:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3211728,00.html

Title: Cops Beat Ambassador's Wife

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 6, 2006 1:15:30 PM

Trepp, you are being way too harsh. I responded to the issues I felt strongest about.
But to appease you, I will respond to your other points now.
You are giving a chicken/egg argument as to who started the violence. The IDF was told not to use excessive force unless provoked. So I am assuming that the settlers threw the first stone. That being said, the IDF was there doing a job, the settlers were told they were leaving 6 months ago. Netanyahu refused to sign a petition to hold off until after the elections (which to me shows that this should have been an accepted done deal by any rational person). This was not a love-in. Many demonstrators were there to use violence. When this happens, peaceful demonstrators are also bound to get hurt. One rock thrown at me for instance would perhaps make me consider the whole group enemies at the time it happens. It becomes emotional. Some soldiers are going to go to extremes as did some demonstrators.
How much force is permittable? How much is permittable when a Palestinian teenager throws a stone? It depends if lives are at risk I guess. As for the clubbing of the teenagers, I didn't see the tapes, but if the soldiers were getting rocks thrown at them at the same time taking emotions into account, I could see using might to get the job finished.
As far as laws go, illegal Arab homes are uprooted as well. Far more than the 9 homes in Amona. I think Jews should take the high road when it comes to evacuations and go with the elected government. Arab evacuations are a touchy subject because Arabs are nuts, and it is a fact that Israel stays away from massive illegal settlement dismantling because of world perception. Like it or not, Israel still receives aid, and their hands are somewhat ties by this.

Posted by: The Atheist Jew | Feb 6, 2006 3:45:13 PM

Ben-David & Westbankmama... Thank you both for the links.

Atheist Jew... OK, I apologise for chastising you for harping on one issue. I mistakenly said you were ignoring all the other issues when all along I should have realized you simply didn't have a clue what I was talking about. My bad.

"The IDF was told not to use excessive force unless provoked"

Are you sure? Have you seen those orders? Can you forward me a copy?

"So I am assuming that the settlers threw the first stone"

Uh oh, there's that pesky word 'assume'. Only this time it only made an ass out of U.

"Many demonstrators were there to use violence."

My mistake, I thought you had set this trope aside. Again, are you sure? Have you interviewed the settlers? Were you there yourself?

"One rock thrown at me for instance would perhaps make me consider the whole group enemies "

Yup, and one baton swung at the head of a peaceful demonstrator would be enough to put me in the mood to fight back or at least defend myself with anything at hand. Say, who left these stones and bricks here?

"Some soldiers are going to go to extremes as did some demonstrators.
"

That sounds suspiciously like 'boys will be boys'. The only problem is that the soldiers are part of an organized government force and all their actions flow from, and reflect upon, the government. Like it or not, the settlers are seen as private individuals under the law... perhaps individuals acting in concert... but individuals none-the-less.

"As for the clubbing of the teenagers, I didn't see the tapes..."

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. You mean you haven't got a clue and are making wild-assed assumptions based on your politics instead of going to look at the readily available evidence. Wise course of action.

"...but if the soldiers were getting rocks thrown at them at the same time taking emotions into account, I could see using might to get the job finished."

And if pigs had wings they could fly. Nicely done, you've just constructed a straw man. You have made unfounded assumptions and based your conclusions entirely upon them. Strong work all around... especially that closing statement about 'getting the job finished'. The only problem is this wasn't a construction job running behind deadline. This was government troops dealing with Israeli citizens.

"I think Jews should take the high road when it comes to evacuations and go with the elected government."

I'm glad that you, sitting safe a snug in Peterborough Ontario, feel comfortable enough to tell me what we Israelis should shut up and do. The only problem is that Olmert and Kadima weren't elected... they are a caretaker government that is acting in a purely self-interested manner. The events of Amona have paved the way for them to be elected, but right now they are just campaigning.

Do us all a favour (that's how you spell it up there, right)... check your facts before spewing forth. I have no problem with anyone coming here and expressing an opinion. But when those opinions are in direct contradiction of readily available information I have to think you are either lazy or biased. Or both.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 6, 2006 4:18:36 PM

I'm not in Peterborough. Cogeco makes it appear that I am though. But I do live in Ontario.
I saw lots of the action on the news. Edited versions. So unless I have the entire tape from different angles, the best I can do is read about it from first hand accounts.
I did a lot of research on this.
Do yourself a favor (that is how you guy's spell favor isn't it?) and do a Google search of Amona and you'll see a wealth of information is available having to do with what the IDF and what the demonstrators were anticipating prior to the ugly day.
You failed to go after the point that Netanyahu refusing to sign the petition to put the dismantling off until after the elections when bringing up the political conspiracy that you are touching upon.

Posted by: The Atheist Jew | Feb 6, 2006 9:24:25 PM

Mr.B- as much as I agree with you about almost everything, I just can't justify stooping to a lower level. One cannot do that- lowering (re: degrading) oneself does not do much to further one's cause, and causing a chilul Hashem is obviously something that one would avoid at all costs. Dignity must be maintained- somehow. That's not to say that we should merely sit back and politely voice our dissatisfaction. We must speak up- just not disgrace ourselves in the process of doing so. I'm not talking about the rest of the world, though (never was).

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 7, 2006 4:06:59 AM

I appreciate this level-headed reaction to the de-settlement scenario. I think Olmert may just be trying to prove himself as a strong leader, and while that doesn't justify brutality on innocent people -it's disgusting that broken skulls could be part of an election campaign, it marks the end of a lenient attitude towards settlers.

I suppose it's hard not to get worked up about something that's so pivotal to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, if there is a peace process there at all. This is also a question of how governments stick to their guns and support the people the way the people support it. Since these settlements were originally set up by the government, it must be hard for them not to look like hypocrites. At the same time, governments need to adapt to new realities. One of those realities is that settlers are losing support. Maybe the higher aim is of creating Israeli borders that are defensible? I think generally people may feel like the Olmert government is like an illegitamate father, and I appreciate the sons analogy, because it helps me relate the fact that both the Israeli government and the people are in an identity crisis. Who are the good sons of the future? It seems like everyone has a different idea of what they would do to fix what Sharon couldn't complete. Watching it from the outside, it seems like Israelis are in a state of confusion and mourning, almost like Hamlet. If you can't be treated according to the expected consequences of breaking the law, then no one should expect you to follow them either. What is unclear to me is just how violent police were to peaceful protestors and whether they had a reasonable choice. You're right they should be models of lawful conduct, but were these normal police or 'security forces'? Might they have had a threat from above to tow the line? It's like the saw it as a war, not just civil unrest.
They fought like a mob. It's terrible.

Anyway, things like this almost make me think humans are just barbarians and we were meant to stay up in the trees throwing pinecones at each other. But no, I condone showing your beliefs but not pouring acid on policemen or anything like that to make your point. While violence may seem necessary, and no one likes to be a loser, we have to expect it to hurt not only ourselves but others as well, so as to have a double negative effect. It is too bad when peaceful and non-peaceful protesters share the same fate. Unfortunately, it happens.

"The strong do what they can, and the weak do what they must" -Thucydides

Posted by: sirbarrett | Feb 7, 2006 5:37:45 AM

sirbarrrett

Thucydides quote: What's your point? That's just the way it is?

Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2006 9:46:57 AM

Wow. Amazing post. Very interesting way to look at things. The notion that people behave in a way which reflects how they are labeled is something I expected to hear coming more from the left, but I have to agree that the Settlers have become the wicked sons of Israel.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Feb 9, 2006 10:06:02 PM

Scott -Thanks for asking. No. That's not my point. If I were to come on here to say that things just are the way they are, I would be wasting your time. I don't know you Scott so I don't want to waste your time. Perhaps a better quote would have been "there is nothing more threatening than he who has nothing to lose." That might be more applicable to to the settler situation, or refugees, or the poor or the helpless, because all they have is their home, if that, and they will protect that with their lives. What are they supposed to do? They are treated like nothing, rounded up and kicked out. Of course some of them are going to get excited. As I suggested, I'm disappointed that this happened and I do think there is a way of changing it, though sometimes that change may come in the form of governments forcing their own citizens to act out. I can see how easy it must be to become a wicked son when you aren't rewarded for being good and it's too bad because from what I gather, this is a tough time for Israeli politics. This is an example of mismanagement. The borders are changing again and everyone is pissy because that wasn't the promise. That wasn't what was expected in that land. Obviously if everyone were treated with respect and had the democratic right to protest non-violently, this wouldn't be the result, but those in power -the government, the soldiers, etc. do whatever they can, not necessarily what they are supposed to do. That is the problem. This is what causes civil unrest, because then the weak (those who are exploited by power) take more extreme measures to do what they 'must' in order to make their point, and things get messy.

Anyway, I guess my point is something like: this is a symptom of inequality. Things like this bother me, but hopefully they bother other people in the same way so that we can figure out a plan on how to react to them. Though, I don't really think the point of a good discussion is to have a single "point." If we did that, we'd all just go home and agree to disagree because we all have different points. I hope simply that I've added something to this discussion.

Posted by: sirbarrett | Feb 13, 2006 3:37:45 AM

I think there was some political calculation involving this confrontation. Olmert was indeed looking for an easy victory. This should not be confuxsed with expected violence.

Most likely he had some adviser somewhere who put him up to it - some one who is permanently in the government. He was also probably lied to. He probably does not realize the violence. Even now.

And even you maybe perhaps thinks this is an exception.

The problem with the Israeli police is long standing. There were no special orders to lie here, although eperhas someone did tell some selected group of police to do carry out certain (usual for them) illegal procedures.

There couldn't be special orders to lie. To do violence you could imagine but skilled lying cannot be new.

From various reading I have concluded that the police have a formula for covering things up. They first maybe would try to avoid being identified. If not, they usually accuse their target - and worst comes to worst all charges will be dropped but THEY will not be investigated. This stuff has aopparently been going on for years. Some people know this - probably corrupt people. )Olmert does not strike me as corrupt so much as ameanble to reasonable sounding arguments from big business lobbyists) I would not think violation of campaign laws would be much of a factyor in evaluating him since the system perhaps almost forces it and probably a candiodate gets advice taht this or that is OK.

By the way if this is something from Shin bet don't think that shin bet might not have organized the demonstrations also and encoraged alienation on the part of teenagers. They don't want the teenagers to think they have any hope of reaching the general Israeli public - and they want to peerhaps do something - that would ordinarily cause a lot of opposition. It actually may even be just aimed at achieving positrions in the govermment. Anyway there is something wrong with too strionbg ideological opposition - theer was no reason for any conformnatuion at Amona from the viewwpoint of teh settklers. This could have been a set up.

Posted by: Sammy Finkelman | Mar 1, 2006 7:46:33 PM

Antisemitism is bad enough. Pro-semitism world hatred is also bad.

Posted by: es35 | Jul 29, 2007 4:24:36 PM

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