Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Revolution or Referendum - Something New - 1990

Israel: Revolution or Referendum (1990)

Rabbi Meir Kahane

Something New

“Traitor!” “Prime Minister of the Intifada!” “Resign!”
The angry and bitter cries of hundreds of angry and bitter settlers who had gathered to lay to rest yet another victim of Arab terror.  This time it was a middle-aged American Jewish immigrant who had come to live in the Samarian settlement of Ariel. The embittered settlers who stood at the open grave knew Frederick Rosenfeld to be a quiet, mild-mannered individual who loved the land, who loved to hike in the ancient Biblical Israel of which Samaria is an integral part, and who claimed to have many Arab acquaintances.  It was this combination that led to his death, his murder.

Frederick Rosenfeld had, as was his wont, gone for a private hike in the countryside of Ariel and there met two Arab shepherds.  That they had approached in a friendly manner and spoken with him was clear from the photographs in his camera.  Frederick Rosenfeld had taken photographs of the Arabs and had been photographed together with them.  All this, of course, before he was brutally slain by them.
Now, a day later, the Jewish settlers, all nationalists who had voted for the right-wing Parties in the last elections, are interrupting the address of the Prime Minister of Israel at the open grave of the murdered Jew, shouting: “Traitor! Resign!”  And when the Prime Minister is unable to finish the speech and is hastily moved out of the area by a heavy force of police and secret service agents, the crowd gathers around his car, banging on the roof and continuing to shout. “Traitor! Resign!”
The Prime Minister was not a left-wing appeaser.  He was not the Labor Party’s Shimon Peres.  He was Yitzhak Shamir, the presumably hard-line head of Menachem Begin’s right-wing Herut Movement and Likud Party, former head of the underground Stern group, the terrorist (sic) group that fought the British when they ruled over the Land of Israel.  And yet, the angry crowd not only shouted the angry and bitter epithets, but banged on the car and threatened physical injury.


A leaflet bearing the signature “Gideon’s Sword” urges Jews to deal “a large and fatal blow” to Arabs.  Another leaflet, signed “Dov,” contains explicit instructions about the best firearms to use against the enemies, and what to do with these weapons after the shooting so that the police will not be able to track down the perpetrators. The police say they will investigate the matter, and a senior Justice Ministry source describes the development as “very serious; the matter must be dealt with.”

It is a warm, May morning in the capital city of Israel. On Jaffa Road, Jerusalem’s main street, hundreds of Jews mill about. Across from the main post office, a handful of Jews wait for bus number 19 while around the corner sits the main police station in what is known as the Russian Compound. An Arab walks quickly to where the Jews are sitting, draws a knife and swiftly stabs five people. Two die, three are wounded.  The dead  are 91 and 76 years old. The Jews chase the Arab who flees.  He is caught, and then the police move in with batons flailing.  They rescue the Arab.
The furious Jews, led by Kach leader Meir Kahane, now attempt to march on the Old City, crying “vengeance! vengeance!” They clash with the police who charge with horses into the crowd, tear-gassing them. In a broadcast a few days later, Voice of America correspondent Charles Weiss, an openly hostile opponent of Kahane, admits that in the crowd that marched on the Arabs and clashed with the police, there were seen men carrying attaché cases, and elderly women, too.

It is less than a week after the murder of the two Jews in Jerusalem.  The authorities now announce the discovery of the body of a soldier, missing for nearly two months.  The soldier has been shot in the head, his body brutalized.  He had been hitchhiking at a spot well within the so-called Green Line, inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel.
In the port city of Ashdod where the soldier, Avi Sasportas, had lived, riots break out.  The police, in panic, sweep through the city urging Arabs to get themselves immediately to the nearest police station for their own safety.  Crowds march on the police stations, stoning buildings and police vehicles.  The next day, following the emotional funeral of the 20-year-old boy, hundreds of Ashdod Jews stone Arab cars on the road to Gaza that bypasses the city.  Again, they clash with police.


It is the day after an Arab, riding the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus on the main highway in the country, seized the wheel and drove the bus down a steep ravine.  The bus explodes in flames.  Fourteen people die, but the terrorist lives, and for a while is placed in the same Hadassah Hospital ward as the Jews he attempted to murder.  The following day an unprecedented wave of anti-Arab sweeps Israel. They begin in Jerusalem where Arab cars are stoned and burned as crowds shout, “Death to the Arabs!” They then spread to the rest of the country.  An Arab driving past Moshav Shibolim in the Negev is stoned.  His car crashes and he is killed. Another Arab is badly injured when he is hit by a rock near Ashkelon.  Police throughout the land are momentarily caught by surprise and hasten to attempt to protect Arabs, using tear gas and clubs against Jews.  For the first time, crowds of Jews turn on the police, stoning them. Tens are arrested but the rioting continues for three days.
Shimon Peres, arriving at the funeral of one of the murdered Jews, is met by such a wave of hatred and anger that he is forced to leave the area under heavy police guard. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir deplores the attacks, calling them “a loss of nerve and will.” The cabinet condemns “irresponsible acts committed by Jews filled with bitterness against Arabs.”
But that is precisely the point.  The Jews are bitter and, for the first time, bitter enough to attack Arabs openly and police, too, when the latter move to stop the rioting.  Neither Shamir, the government, President Herzog or anyone else makes much of an impression on the frustrated, bitter and frightened Jews – fearful for the lives of family and children.


The angry and mass outpouring of bitter fury as hundreds of Jewish settlers pour out of their settlements in Judea-Samaria-Gaza, the infuriated urban crowds that riot at funerals of murdered Jews and in the streets, and the rise of Jewish underground groups are part of a clear, definite and terribly serious change that is taking place today inside Israel, and that – unless stopped by getting at the root cause of the anger and hate – will lead inexorably to mass attacks on Arabs, and worse, to the threat of revolution and civil war against the Jewish government of a Jewish State, barely 40 years old.

The most fundamental obligation of government – the source of its legitimacy and right to rule over the people – is the responsibility to guarantee the lives and safety of its citizens.  If it either cannot or will not fulfill that obligation, it faces the loss of its moral and legal authority.       

It cannot continue. The process by which a magnificent – Divine! –dream of 1900 years is turned daily, into a growing nightmare, cannot continue. For if we persist in this way, the Jewish State faces horror of horrors – awesome – national tragedy.  It cannot continue and it will not. The only question is.  Will the process of disintegration and collapse be prevented by revolution or referendum?

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