The Trap

It was lying innocently beside my coffee cup.

Dr. Tzipora Pinner,

OpEds guest
Arutz 7

That was close. This morning I almost stepped into a trap. The trap was lying innocently beside my coffee cup and bore the name of a widely known left-wing Israeli newspaper, English Edition.

In the Merkaz Klita (Immigrant Absorption Center) where I live, we get those newspapers for free (that's my main
What irresponsible lunatics those settlers are!
excuse for reading it). The headline that caught my eye was seemingly a public declaration by "the settlers" saying they hoped for the death or kidnapping of IDF soldiers. Next came something about rioting by right-wing activists following the nighttime violent destruction of an outpost near Hebron by the army and police.

My first reaction was: How can anyone in his right mind ever call for the death or kidnapping of our soldiers? What irresponsible lunatics those settlers are! I angrily banged my coffee cup onto the table.

Then I read the article again, more slowly. The curse against the soldiers was quoted in the text and ended with... "a protester shouted." So, the presumably inciting "settlers" from the headline were made up of the representative number of... one protester. Aha. IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu himself was quoted as saying that those comments "do not represent the vast majority of Judea and Samaria settlers." If only the article's headline had been so discerning.

Still, this one man's shouting held the power to elicit harsh statements from Attorney General Meni Mazuz, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and, most importantly, Peace Now calling for jailing the inciters. Peace Now then proceeded to make the peaceful proposal of taking "aggressive action... to eradicate" the "settlers' terrorism." (Puncturing tires, as some people apparently did, is certainly against the law, but somehow I had always imagined terrorism to be something bigger.)

In an ideal world, that article with it's "shocking" headline would simply have been bad journalism. Yellow press sensationalism, maybe.

A look at the rest of the newspaper made it exceedingly clear that we do not live in an ideal world.

Next page: "Chief IDF Rabbi Taught Torah to Jailed Jewish Extremists". Nu? What else should a rabbi do but teach Torah? And are not, in any (civilized) country of the world, prisoners entitled to spiritually supportive visits by religious functionaries? Oh, I understand. When it comes to right-wing Jewish prisoners, that's something different.

Two pages further: "Defeat settler terror". The article ends with, "Any attempt at compromise, and any negotiations with representatives of the settler 'moderates' would constitute a capitulation to terror and the abandonment of the state to a dangerous group of lunatics who are liable to bring about its destruction." Just a second. Double check. No, it's not about negotiations with Hamas or Hizbullah. It says "settler moderates". Seriously.

Next to it is a caricature depicting kippah-wearing Jews (supposed to be settlers) beating and kicking Arabs and soldiers, and one "settler" standing on a rooftop, urinating unto a soldier below. Text line: "Judea and Samaria. The Story of Every Jew."

I begin to feel slightly dizzy. How did I get here? Oh, it all began with that article about the "inciting" settlers that almost caught me in the trap of believing it. That is, until I read all the rest. Incitement...

Dear readers, try to imagine for a moment how the World would react if any American or European newspaper had dared to publish articles and caricatures in this manner about the Jewish settlers. It would have been bombarded with accusations of anti-Semitism, and rightfully so. Does the fact that all of this was instead published in a single morning edition of an Israeli paper make it any better?

And it's not just that one edition. It's every few days, at least. Yesterday, it featured an opinion article by a well-known left-wing author explaining why it's good and reasonable to hate "the settlers".

Yes. To hate.

The day, week and month before there were similar articles. Every Friday I look up the Shabbat candlelighting time in this newspaper. Every Friday there is an ad by Peace Now beside the timetable. I call it the Friday joke. But it's not really funny. Most of the time, it likens the fact that Israel consists of territory on both sides of the Green Line to all kinds of cruel, dictatorial regimes, bemoans the harsh and unfair treatment of Arab terrorists, and of course calls in 1,001 variations for the above-mentioned "aggressive action... to eradicate" the "settlers' terrorism".

The trap. What does it do to those people's minds who only read newspapers like this? Day after day. It's a
It featured an opinion article by a well-known left-wing author explaining why it's good and reasonable to hate "the settlers".
systematic campaign. It's directed at sowing hatred against an entire segment of Israel's population. The settlers and the political right-wing are systematically demonized. This dripping, sizzling hatred frightens me. What does it do to the minds of people who never get a look at alternative newspapers and websites, who never learn the other side of the story of "riots" and "incitement" near Hebron? Who never hear about the family whose house was destroyed by bulldozers sent by their own government? Destroyed in the middle of the night, without warning, literally over their heads, with troops crashing in through the windows into the children's bedroom?

What if that had been done to an Arab family? Imagine the outcry in Israel and worldwide. But so? After all, it was only a Jewish family. Settlers. Right-wingers. And because of that, they deserve this? The families of the bulldozer terrorists from Jerusalem were spared this treatment. Their houses are still standing.

"Aggressive action... to eradicate...."

Who will ever take action to get all those newspaper readers and TV watchers out of the trap they have been lured into? Who will ever eradicate the media incitement and manipulation?

Who will understand that all this is just the attempt to mentally prepare the population for the next large scale "disengagement", for handing 98% of Judea and Samaria, the "West Bank", and half of Jerusalem plus the Temple Mount, over to the Palestinians (meaning, in the long run, to Hamas). That it's just the attempt to kill off, in a preemptive media strike, all sympathy and understanding the normal, little people might have for their compatriots who live in those areas and who will be thrown out by force?

This one family and this one newspaper edition were just the beginning. Check this text again in two or three years and see if I was right. I dearly hope not. I fear, yes. And in the meantime, beware of the trap.