A far-left American Jewish organization has drawn angry condemnation in both Israel and from withing the US Jewish community, over a campaign in which it brands Jews living in Judea and Samaria as "a plague."
Americans for Peace Now (APN) is the sister organization of the Israel-based Peace Now, a mainly foreign-funded NGO which advocates for the ethnic-cleansing of Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria, also known as "the West Bank."
In a post on its official Facebook page, APN evokes the Passover story of the 10 plagues God visited on the Egyptians for enslaving the Jewish people - but whereas the Biblical account sees the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians to save the Israelites from oppression, the Peace Now version recasts the Jews themselves as a plague for living on land which leftist groups want Israel to cede to the Palestinian Authority.
The post includes two images illustrating the growth of the haredi Jewish town of Modiin Illit in Samaria (Shomron), located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Underneath the pictures is a call for supporters to "Spill some wine for continued settlement building - Overcome Israel's #ModernDayPlagues", a reference to the practice of spilling a small portion of wine from one of the four cups drunk during the Passover "Seder" meal as the 10 plagues are recounted.
The post also includes the following caption:
"The holiday of Passover celebrates the redemption of a people from slavery- a story of redemption not only for Jews, but for many people who yearn for justice and freedom. Yet, there are still injustices to be overturned. A full glass of wine symbolizes complete joy, and during the Seder, we spill wine from our cup to remember the suffering of others that accompanied our redemption. Traditionally, we then recite the ten plagues; this year, we list ten modern plagues (starting with settlements) - those that we have yet to overcome."
The shocking characterization of Jews living in Judea and Samaria as "a plague" provoked an angry response fron Jewish community leaders and activists in the region.
David Haivri, Shomron Advisor for International Affairs, dismissed APN as "a pathetic bunch of hate-mongers."
"They post an aerial photo of a hilltop that was barren and uninhabited ten years ago and now the site of a flourishing community. That they call a plague, and in their mind it is so because the residents are Jewish," he said.
Elie Peiprz, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, reacted with a Passover comparison of his own.
"The growth of Modiin Illit is indeed quite dramatic and should only be seen as a positive development," he said.
"But the comparison of development of Eretz Yisrael to a Biblical plague, demonstrates that the 'Rasha' is alive and well," he continued, referring to the "evil child" recounted in the Seder parable of the Four Sons.
Pieprz invited APN members "to visit Modiin Illit with the Yesha Council" as a way of bringing "them back into the fold, so that all Jews could merit the blessings of the holiday of Redemption."
"It has been more than 3000 years, yet many of us have still not shed the mentality of slavery," he lamented, while noting dryly that "even while slaves in Egypt, the Jews were always allowed to build houses."
Dani Dayan, a veteran advocate for Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria and former Yesha Council head, responded similarly.
"Peace Now and its American supporters prove once again they are the wicked son of the Haggadah. As the Haggadah says: 'Because he excludes himself from the group and rejects a fundamental principle, you must set his teeth on edge and say to him: “It is because of what Hashem did for me when I left Egypt!”'...if he had been there, he would not have been redeemed."
In the US, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly condemned the post, and called on US Jews to react by "shunning" far-left groups like APN.
"Peace Now should be ashamed for their racist position that Jews cant live on 2% of our ancient homeland of Judea and Samaria," said ZOA President Mort Klein, referring to the tiny proportion of land in Judea-Samaria which is actually inhabited by Jews.
"To call this a 'plague' while ignoring the real Palestinian Arab 'plagues' of Abbas's merger with Hamas; promoting violence in their schools, media and sermons; naming schools, streets and sports teams after Jew-killers; paying pensions to families of suicide bombers and imprisoned terrorists; and their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; is such a frightening disgrace that Peace Now should be marginalized by the Jewish community as an extremist group of self-hating and frightened Jews."
Branding the remarks as "disgusting" and APN as "appeasers," he accused the leftist group of being motivated by "pure cowardice."
"These extremist left-wing Jews, who embrace these types of absurd positions, don't do this as a matter of principle, they do this as a matter of fear. Taking this position makes them feel more secure and safe by sending a message to our enemies: 'Don't hate us, don't kill us - we are with you, we're not like those other Jews!'"
APN has yet to respond to requests for comment.