Saturday, August 08, 2015

The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness

There are times when studying the history of Jews and Judaism in late antiquity comes in handy in the face of contemporary events. The radical settlers who have been arrested for committing arson at the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, including a man named Meir Ettinger, are engaged in trying overthrow the state of Israel and replace it with the Kingdom of Israel. I'm reminded of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, usually called the War Scroll by scholars - "The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness."

Ynet has just published an extensive article about the murderous attacks committed by these radical settlers (none of whom have yet been arrested for the murders at Duma) and their ideology, which may set the West Bank aflame.

Main points of the article:
The rising tensions are evident everywhere. In Meir Ettinger's fanaticism; in Palestinian villages where night watchmen groups are formed; in Givat Ronen outpost where "the most hotheaded guys are drawn," and in the police, where investigators are trying to solve the arson in Duma and prepare for possible Jewish retaliation.
While we were all paying attention to other things, there have been several murderous attacks on Palestinians by settlers in the past year. The house of Huda Kumail, who lives in Khirbet Abu Falah, was firebombed nine months ago, on November 23, 2014, and she and her three daughters barely escaped with their lives.

A year and a half ago, the home of Khaled Dar-Khalil from Sinjil, north of Ramallah, was also bombed, but the family was saved by Palestinian firefighters from Birzeit. Fortunately, none of them were hurt.

I presume that I did not hear about these two bombings because no one died in the attacks, but it's obvious that the Israeli government should have been paying much closer attention to attacks on Palestinians by settlers, because the whole situation in the West Bank is in danger of completely blowing up.

There is also constant harassment of Palestinian farmers by settlers, who try to prevent the Palestinians from working the land and harvesting olive trees. One example is provided by Adnan Nasser, who lives close to the Adi Ad outpost, one of those places settled by radical Jews.
"I'm suffering from the settlers, and I'm not the only one," he told us. "They harass and hurt all of the farmers in the village. They uproot trees, burn agricultural machinery, attack us in the fields." 
We drove on a dirt road leading to an agricultural field, and from there to the hill atop which Adi Ad is located. The same road, by the way, also leads to the home of Mrs. Kumail from Khirbet Abu Falah, 2.5 kilometers away from here. 
On the edges of the Palestinian field we found a small military tent with four soldiers observing the outpost. They were stationed there to separate the two sides. 
On the opposite ridge there was a group of teens and children who noticed us standing there and looking at them. They instantly covered their faces and started making their way down the ridge towards us. But the soldiers assured us we had nothing to worry about, they will protect us. The Palestinian who was with us was not assured by this. We left.
Meir Ettinger, who has just been arrested for suspicion of his involvement in the attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes (and perhaps also about the murderous arson in Duma), was arrested in early March of this year because he was suspected of being involved in the attack on Huda Kumail and her family. He was questioned at the Ma'ale Adumim police station but then released because they didn't have evidence against him. He was then barred from entering the West Bank and Jerusalem. The article provides more information on Ettinger and his violent acts against Palestinians, which he justifies by resort to the higher law of the Torah. This is the letter that Ettinger wrote to the judges in his case:
"Two weeks ago, I received a restraining order barring me from my home in Givat Sneh Ya'akov near the holy city of Nablus. This order forces me to leave my home, the righteous Jacob's land, my parents’ house in the holy city of Jerusalem, the city of the Temple, and my in-laws' house in Shiloh, where the Tabernacle resided thousands of years before the strange and bizarre laws that this court adheres to were made," he wrote. 
"Unfortunately, the Land of Israel is dominated by a government that is not loyal to the laws of Torah and the commandments, to whom the sanctity of the Land of Israel is foreign, and the fact it is called a Jewish state is merely lip service. This is the situation that brought me to stand here, in front of this court, that in my eyes is the same as those who are barring me from my home and the land of my ancestors, whose goal is to promote assimilation and erase the unique nature of the people of Israel, and to whom the state's security is not the same as the security of Jews... 
"This court calls itself a high court of justice, but to us it is the symbol of the injustice and the theft of the name 'Israel'... the order I received cites 'reasons of state security and public safety.' This is the time to say - it is not I who destroyed Israel, but you who sit here, and your predecessors, who endanger the Jews' security over and over again..."
He also said in an interview with the Kol Yehudi (Jewish Voice) website:
"I didn't get this order because I'm suspected of murder or robbing banks, but because we all want to see the Kingdom of Israel rise here as soon as possible," he said, and then elaborated: "We don't recognize the authority of the government that controls the Land of Israel today, to tell us what to do and how to do it... We shouldn't even pay heed to the persecution and the restrictions they put on us. We must act with all of our might to change the situation and do everything we can to form the Kingdom of Israel."
A comrade of Ettinger, Efi Haikin from Yitzhar (an extremist settlement in the central West Bank), said of Ettinger:
He defined Ettinger as "the flag bearer of those who believe that the State of Israel should disappear and that we need to establish the Kingdom of Israel as soon as possible, as God commanded us." 
Later, Haikin touched upon one of the key points in the ideology that leads the extremists in the outposts: "The State of Israel is financing churches in the Land of Israel even though one of the main commandments given to the people of Israel as they entered the Land of Israel is to uproot any idol worship."
And what has the government being doing with people like Ettinger? They issue orders to prevent them from entering Jerusalem or the West Bank. If Ettinger and his comrades were Palestinians suspected of the same kind of attacks against Israeli Jews in the West Bank, they would now have been sitting in jail for a long time in administrative detention. But there was no such harsh treatment for these coddled radicals.

Udi Levy, who is the head of the "Nationalistic Crime Unit at the Judea and Samaria District," says of them:
"They have no rabbinical authority. These guys are of the opinion the rabbis have become moderate, that they are groveling to the state, and if there is any authority, it's guys from among them. Guys like Ettinger, Yinon Reuveni, Moshe Orbach. Guys who don't study. All of the official bodies tried to deal with them, offer help - the welfare services, the council - nothing worked. Even the army. The Commander of the Binyamin Regional Brigade, Col. Yisrael Shomer, tried to go to these groups, talk to them, and they weren't happy to see him. He wasn't welcomed there."
So instead of arresting and prosecuting them, the welfare services, the regional council, and the army went and talked to them, as if they were naughty children who just needed to be scolded. The army! Since the attack on the Dawabshe family home in Duma, several Palestinians have been shot and killed by the army in protests. When the army feels in danger from Palestinians who are protesting and/or rioting, they shoot. But when they are faced with people who want to overthrow the state of Israel and replace it with a theocratic kingdom, they go talk to them.

Three of the radicals have now been put in administrative detention, because the cabinet finally decided to do this to Jews in addition to Palestinians. Administrative detention is detention without trial, often because there is inadequate evidence to charge someone, or because the army thinks they're dangerous. It's permitted by the British emergency regulations, which were taken over by the State of Israel when it was founded.

It is a blatantly anti-democratic procedure, which has been often used against Palestinians, and very rarely against Jews. The B'Tselem human rights group, which works to help Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, decried the use of administrative detention against the radical settlers, just as they do its use against Palestinians.

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