The Demonization of the Fringe

The calamity at Amona could only have been carried out after the general public in Eretz Yisroel and in America had been convinced, to the point of being brainwashed, of the unlawfulness of the "extreme-right-fanatical-fringe-element", known as "settlers".

Aliza Karp

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
In his book Perfidy, while retelling the story of the trial of Dr. Rudolf Kastner in 1955, Ben Hecht records the testimony of Joel Brand, who was tasked with saving literally millions of Hungarian Jews from the ovens of the Holocaust. Amongst the tragedies that this testimony reveals is the devastating effect that can result from the marginalization of upright individuals who do not submit to foul policies of the establishment.

The calamity at Amona could only have been carried out after the general public in Eretz Yisroel and in America had been convinced, to the point of being brainwashed, of the unlawfulness of the "extreme-right-fanatical-fringe-element", known as "settlers".

In Perfidy, the establishment being discussed is the Jewish Agency of that time. Hecht explains that the British government founded the Jewish Agency and he refers to them as a "Jewish front for British policy in Palestine."

Brand's story takes place in 1944. He has been given a proposal to save millions of Jews and must garner international support. Brand turns to the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency insists he travel to Aleppo, but Brand knows this is British soil and he risks arrest.

A Jewish Agency representative, Ehud Avriel, is assigned to Brand, to convince him that everything has been arranged for his safety in Aleppo, where, in fact, everything was arranged - for his arrest and detention by the British.

This tragic story holds a timely lesson.

I quote from Perfidy:
Aleppo-bound Joel Brand sits in his compartment with his friend Avriel, who smiles and chats like a parent calming a troubled child.

The train stops in Ankara and fate comes aboard. A young Jabotinsky disciple from Palestine, Joseph Klarman, finds Brand in his compartment and speaks to him. He warns Brand. The British are waiting to arrest him in Aleppo. He begs Brand not to go on.

Jewish Leader Avriel sneers upon hearing of the intruder. He knows him - one of the toughs from Tel Aviv, a Jabotinsky hothead.

Unknowing, the million Hungarian Jews, still alive, wait for the outcome of this talk on the train at Ankara. If Joel Brand will believe what this "troublemaker" from Palestine tells him, the million may escape the German ash barrels. What a moment this is, a moment that could change history.

But it changes nothing. Joel Brand does not believe the "troublemaker". Brand is as Jew trained to believe only in respectability....
Those whom Hecht refers to as "troublemakers" have now evolved into the "right-wing-extreme-fanatical-fringe-element".

The marginalization and demonization of Jews who defend their right to live in Eretz Yisroel has tremendous power. It is what allowed the brutality at Amona to happen. In fact, it sparked the violence.

The misguided hatred for the Right is so deep-rooted that many have said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's orders stemmed from his desire to gain popularity by proving he is unyielding towards the "right-wing-extreme-fanatical-fringe-element".

Speaking on Purim of 5747 (1987), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, said, "G-d does everything for the good; what could be positive in this development of extremes, when there are also extremely negative results? The reason is that when evil remains concealed, it cannot be repaired. In fact, the person might even be unaware of its existence. Once this evil is revealed, however, it becomes possible to improve and elevate it."

Joel Brand was facing an evil that was concealed. When Brand tried to tell his story, his listeners
...sighed, and turned away. There were too many Jews in Palestine babbling a little madly about what happened in Europe. About Germans.... The incinerator smoke that hung in the sky all day and all night. Better to forget those things. Better, also, not to think wrong things about Palestine's great Jews. What other Jews were there for the world to admire?
In contrast to Brand's frustration to convey his experience, the attack on Amona has been widely publicized through pictures and videos. Breaking through the layers of conditioning that the unprotected settlers deserved to be beaten will not be easy, but an effort has to be made to convince people that what happened at Amona is, in fact, evil.

In order to do this, the right-wing camp has to be careful not to reinforce the stigma placed upon it by submitting to it. Right-wingers are afraid to be labeled "extremists". Self-incrimination by the Right led to many reports marginalizing the rock-throwing by protesters at Amona. The Right should not be on the defensive. They are the victims, not the aggressors; even when rocks are being thrown. A few thrown rocks do not justify trampling and savagely beating hundreds of unprotected, unarmed protestors.

There is no validity in the paranoia about the rock-throwers. The reason for the paranoia is fear of the incriminating "extremist" label. To disassociate from the "right-wing-extreme-fanatical-fringe-element" reinforces the deadly tactic that has been in place since 1944. Fearing the title strengthens the opposition. Denying its power strengthens the righteous.

This is clear from Jewish history. The right-wing is in the position of being the "Jew of the Jews". When Jews attempt to deny their true identity and present themselves as cosmopolitan, moderate, even-handed and open-minded, they are eventually mistreated. When a Jew stands proud, he is respected.

Mordechai HaYehudi (the Jew) ? the "right-wing-extreme-fanatical-fringe-element" of his time - would not bow down to Haman. When Mordechai is first introduced in the story of Purim, he is referred to as "ish yemini". Although this is generally translated as "a man from the tribe of Benjamin," the literal meaning is "man of the right". The commentary Tiferes Shlomo explains that to mean that Mordechai never swerved to the left.

The process of unraveling the demonization of settlers and their supporters is slow. But it should be pursued. Silence is a stamp of approval. I will turn to Perfidy again for a suitable quote to make my point: "It is always a losing battle, this trying to out-shout the authority. Those who have been in one are left with the conviction that it is easier to waken the dead than the living. But what a hopeless world it would be without this record of lost battles."

Letters to the media and faxes to authorities, rallies and meetings may not change anything overnight, but they can erase the stamp of approval placed by silence. When Jewish blood becomes cheap, silence is not an option.


Perfidy by Ben Hecht, Gefen Publishing House, 1999, pages 190, 226, 234, 239-240.

Sichos in English, Volume 35, page 8

The Megillah, published by Mesorah Publications, page 55