YitzharArutz Sheva

Leaders in the Jewish community of Yitzhar blasted Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen saying his remarks about the town's residents are hearsay and that he needs to come talk to them "eye to eye."

The criticism came in response to lecture Cohen gave in Tel Aviv in which he said Israel's religious public feels a growing alienation to state institutions and national leaders.

However, in his next breath, Coehn reportedly launched into a discussion of so-called 'price tag' operations saying, "There are a few dozen extremists, mostly in Yitzhar. They have decided to take the road of terror."

"Because they can't harm the government and the Israel Defense Forces, they lash out at Arabs and [their] sacred symbols. To their mind, the worse it gets, the more the government will have to think before it destroys a shack in a settlement. We treat this as terror," he said.

For his part, Yitzhar spokesman Avraham Binyamin responded, "Assuming for a moment the comments attributed to Cohen are correct, those same feelings are shared by tens of thousands of law-abiding settlers and their supporters, who watch with open eyes as the government carries out ongoing injustices against their communities.

"These feelings stem from discriminatory treatment against the Jews in Judea and Samaria. The state denies them permission to build homes in communities that are officially recognized and legal. For some reason we hear no complaints about the rampant illegal construction in the Arab and Bedouin sectors in Israel.

"Cohen correctly diagnosed the incredibly immoral and hypocritical conduct by the political leadership of Israel. The alienation comes from having leaders whose values are undemocratic, and who perpetrate lies and act criminally towards an entire segment of Israel's public

"We propose Cohen come to Yitzhar and look us in the eye and hear our views," Binyamin said. "To have a conversation of substance with the people themselves before drawing conclusions and prejudice from hearsay and false reports."

Some nationalist leaders objected to Cohen's juxtaposition of feelings held by the national religious public with actions that same public has widely condemned, saying he had fallen into the trap laid by left-wing organizations and reporters seeking to slander the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.