Op-Ed: Of Price Tagging and Collective Punishment
Ari Soffer, A7 Managing EditorThe writer is the Managing Editor of Arutz Sheva/Israel National News. He was born in London, UK, and prior to his Aliyah to Israel in 2013 was active in a variety of pro-Israel and anti-extremism organizations, including the British Israel Coalition, which he co-founded in 2011. Today, he lives in the Jewish community of Shiloh in Samaria, Israel.
The past week or so has seen the launch of a dangerous new salvo in the propaganda war against the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
As always, the architects of demonization and delegitimization deserve recognition for their deft construction of a totally false discourse in order to justify their actions - past, present and future. Unperturbed by a lack of consistency in their arguments, and without allowing facts - or the lack thereof - to get in the way of their arguments, they seek to convince us that black is white, right is wrong and day is night.
It all began with the near-lynch of a number of young Jewish men by the residents of the Arab village of Kusra, near the ancient Jewish town of Shiloh. The circumstances behind the events of that day were unclear, yet many media outlets somehow "knew" immediately that these were "Price Taggers", whose attempt to vandalize Arab property had gone wrong. Naturally, they based their knowledge on testimony from the Arab victims [sic] and a conveniently-placed cameraman from the anarchist "Rabbis for Human Rights" who just happened to be there at the time (and whose organization is well known for its "integrity".)
No evidence? No matter. They were Jews - religious-looking ones at that - and the lynch mob was Arab, so it was reasonable to assume that those "fanatic settlers" were to blame and "had it coming".
Never mind that they were unarmed and did not have any kind of tools or equipment with them that would have suggested an attempt to carry out a "price tag".
Never mind that they were ambushed outside of Qusra.
Never mind that the ambush looked suspiciously pre-planned; after all, this would not be the first time that premeditated Arab violence is blamed on a Jewish "provocation" - think Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount on the eve of the Second Intifada (or perhaps he too was price-tagging?!).
Of course, their beards and peyot (sidecurls) fed the glee with which so many (including some of their own brethren) savored the brutal beating, humiliation and subsequent arrest (!) of a group of Jews hiking - albeit "provocatively" - in their own homeland.
But that was not the end of it. Having successfully portrayed the victims as the aggressors, the purveyors of the "anti-settler" discourse set out to expand on the false narrative they had constructed: that these "fanatics" were all from the small Jewish village of Esh Kodesh.
Never mind that only one of the group of at least 18 men was from Esh Kodesh. They were from Esh Kodesh, and Esh Kodesh is some kind of "Price Tag hub" - and this must be repeated as a fact because the media (and Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now) say so.
And then, the clincher. If these "guilty" Jews were from a certain Jewish village, ergo, the people of that Jewish community as a whole are all evil, and must be wiped out as one. No, not the harsh decree of a Tzarist baron or an Arab despot, but the sweet, melodious words of Peace Now - the ultra-leftist group which has apparently soaked up more than just money from its European paymasters.
OK, but why bring this up now, a week later, you ask? Because if that wasn't enough, now the rabbis are getting in on it too. For Jewish leaders - whether rabbinic or otherwise - have learned from centuries of persecution and victim complexes to carefully hone the art of blaming their flock for acts of violence or abuse committed against them.
Cue the venerable Rabbi Dr. Yoel Bin-Nun, who in a transparent attempt to appeal for mercy as the leftist wolves lick their chops, issues the largely law-abiding Jews of Judea and Samaria with a stern warning: if a small band of disaffected youth continue to act like hooligans we will all, collectively, be ethnically-cleansed. Oh yes, and we will deserve it too!
While making sure to join in the media lynching of the entire community of Esh Kodesh (“If it was Jews who did this, then it isn’t ‘Esh Kodesh’ [lit. “holy fire”] but rather ‘Esh Zara’ [lit. “foreign fire”; an offering not authorized by G-d],” he quipped), he explained that since "God doesn't like revenge" the Jewish people will be kicked out of Judea and Samaria if such acts continue.
Warning that "extremists are destroying the settlement enterprise," he then went a step further, continuing to take a leaf out of the books of the anti-Israel narrative by dabbling in some historic revisionism to make his case: "It already happened in Yamit and in Gush Katif, and it’s likely to happen in Samaria, all because of these vengeful people."
Ah yes - Gush Katif and Yamit were "evacuated" because of "price-taggers"! Just like the 1948 war was started because of the Israeli "occupation" of 1967.
Even his tokenistic attempt to balance out his outrageous legitimization of ethnic-cleansing by citing "the Palestinians'" failure to succeed in their struggle against the Jewish state is glaring in its inconsistency (apparently, it is simply their "cruel methods" which are the problem - because "Allah [sic] does not want cruel, vengeful people to succeed" - and not the fact that this land inherently belongs to the Jewish nation, and not to the Arab colonizers).
Dear Rabbi: if punctured tires, graffiti and the occasional arson are reason enough to deport an entire population, then what of the Arab population of this land, whose community has produced not just vandals and arsonists, but bloodthirsty killers and suicide bombers?
Make no mistake about it. Whether the rabbi means to or not his justification of "Divine" punishment against the largely law-abiding Jews of Judea and Samaria due to a few hoodlums, simultaneously feeds into the unholy political campaign to ethnically-cleanse this region of its Jewish population (also known by its sanitized name: "dismantle the settlements").
This is our land. We are its people, and our place is here. The "settlement enterprise" he speaks of is a struggle against centuries of Arab colonialism in Israel and the wider Middle East, which, though embattled, will not be derailed regardless of the violence and libel leveled against us.
Price-tagging is not only wrong but cowardly to boot. I am not disputing that. But with all due respect to the esteemed rabbi, if he is wondering why Yamit and Gush Katif were destroyed, and if he is looking to prevent further tragedies of that sort, he should look no further than the exile mentality which drives Jews to blame - and harm - themselves, in the vain hope that they can appease the powers that be, instead of ignoring the barking dogs and marching confidently forward towards Redemption.