The “B” Factor
July 20, 2001
Last night it finally happened. Someone took aim, pulled the trigger, and hit seven Arabs in a car, about 15 miles west of Hebron. Three were killed and four others seriously wounded.
The Israeli news media had the crime half solved immediately. On Kol Yisrael news and on the Ma’ariv newspaper web site, (and probably other places too that I didn’t check out or see) the headlines screamed, “Settlers murder Arabs in Drive-by shooting.” The news editors knew what everyone else did not know. The culprits were “settlers.” Of course, one correspondent pointed out that eyewitnesses noted that the murderer’s vehicle fled west, in the direction of Kiryat Gat-Ashkelon and not east, in the direction of Hebron-Gush Etzion. That, however, makes no difference. The only thing that’s important is the fact that 3 Arabs were killed by “Jewish settlers.” Case closed!
This morning journalists began calling me, asking for a statement concerning the killings. More than one correspondent had the audacity to ask me if I knew who’d done it, thereby not so implicitly implying that I might really know who the murderers actually are. (It’s nice to know that you’re so highly respected and thought of.)
Still, I was asked what we think, those of us living here in Hebron.
The answer is both simple and yet very complex.
First things first-so there should be no mistake. The Jewish Community of Hebron has always rejected use of unwarranted violence against anyone and everyone. We do not believe that random acts of killing are the solution to the problems we face. If our community, or any other community for that matter, decided to take up arms (issued to us by the IDF and privately licensed for reasons of self-defense) against Arabs arbitrarily and haphazardly, similar killings to those of last night would already have occurred, perhaps dozens of times. That fact that this has not happened is proof of our beliefs-what should be done and what shouldn’t be done.
That having been said, crystal clear, a few other points must be clarified and fully understood.
1. The guilty party has yet to be apprehended. It is impossible, at this stage, to blame anyone in particular. The attackers may have been from Yesha, but they could also have come from Hertzeliya, or Netanya, or Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem or anywhere else for that matter.
2. If and when someone is arrested, according to rules of law in most democratic countries, suspects are just that- suspects. A suspect is innocent until proven guilty. In Israel the media is usually quick to try and convict, even before the a suspect is arraigned. However the media conviction includes not only the suspect. Rather, their bill of guilt includes mass populations, as we witnessed following the Rabin assassination.
3. True, all external signs point to an act by Jews against Arabs. However, the group that claimed responsibility for the attack, “The Committee for Road Security” last surfaced several years ago, led by none-other than Avishai Raviv and his fictitious group called Eyal. Raviv, as you may recall, was hired by Israeli intelligence as a provocateur, whose goal was to stir up public opinion against Jews in Yesha, and most particularly, those in Hebron. Raviv was a close friend of Yigal Amir, and according to many eyewitness accounts used to tell Amir, “Be a man, let’s see you kill Rabin.” So, who knows, maybe Avishai Raviv is reverting back to his well-known ways.
4. Another possibility, as far-fetched as it may sound, is that Arabs committed the killing last night. As you may recall, two weeks ago, Arab terrorists, shooting at the Shmuelyan family at Har Bracha, dressed up in Israeli military uniforms. Other Arab killers have had kippahs on their head. It is not beyond Arafat to order his terrorists to kill some other Arabs thereby causing a major crisis in Israel, with the Israeli left blaming the ‘extreme right’ of terrorism.
The truth is that now we must wait and see what the police investigation reveals. Until then, we must be very careful who we blame.
However, there is one other factor that must not be ignored. As far as I’m concerned, the responsibility for last night’s attack, assuming that is was committed by Jews, falls straight in the lap of Ariel Sharon. Sharon, being led by the nose by Shimon Peres and Binyamin ben Eliezer, Foreign and Defense Ministers respectively, has abandoned Israelis, both in Yesha and throughout Israel. His restraint policy has led to the deaths of 67 people since becoming Prime Minister. Arafat’s war against the Jews continues unhindered, with massive shooting at Israeli communities in Yesha, mortars in Gilo, and yet Sharon is doing nothing to effectively stop the attacks. People are dying, and Sharon continues to sit in a Peres-controlled government.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a conversation between Shimon Peres and a journalist in 1995, before the Rabin assassination, when Peres said, “I’m not worried about the Jews in Yesha. Many of them will flee, and the others, well, let’s see what happens when the Arabs start killing them.”
A few days ago I had a conversation with a correspondent for a major international publication, who told me of a chat he’d had with a major Israeli leader, earlier in the week. THIS WEEK. JULY, 2001. The leader told him something like this: “The present violence may continue for months, or even years, on a low flame. And if the price is one or two settlers killed each week, we can live with that.”
I have no doubt that last night’s killers are not pathological murderers. They didn’t kill Arabs 9 months ago, or six months ago, or three months ago. But different people have different saturation points, and sometimes people just lose it, as it seems was the case last night. But again, I have no doubt that if Ariel Sharon had not decided on a policy of abandonment, after having promised to return security to Israel, last night’s events would not have occurred.
So, when I’m asked if I condemn last night’s actions, I say yes, I say that I condemn Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, and Binyamin ben Eliezer, for bringing about a situation where Jews feel that they have no choice but to take to the streets, and to take to their own weapons, in order to achieve what the IDF should be accomplishing.
The responsibility is fully theirs.