Analyzing the recent right wing violence in Israel

November 24, 2016 23:04

Last week a violent clash erupted between the Israeli radical right wing and the country's security forces. It began Monday night when some 200 youngsters attacked Palestinian vehicles in a road located near the Kdumim settlement in the West Bank. When IDF forces arrived at the scene, they were stormed by the right wing activists who proceeded to attack the highest ranking officer at the scene stoning him and shouting "Nazi". Several hours later, dozens of youngsters infiltrated and vandalized an IDF base located in the same region. Theses attacks were followed by the torching of an historic mosque in Jerusalem.

While violence has broken out before between right wing zealots and the IDF, the scope of this week's events is unprecedented. The attack on the IDF base and injuring of high ranking officers has sent shock waves through the Israeli political map with politicians from both sides of the aisle denouncing the right wing perpetrators. Some have gone as far as to coin the phrase "acts of Jewish terror".

Yet Monday night's events are more than just an opportunity to introduce new terms into the Israeli vernacular. They serve to demonstrate that the Israeli radical right wing had decided to up the ante.

It is hard to believe that the young right wing fanatics that stormed the IDF military base were motivated to do so by pure passion. These altercations may have been orchestrated, and if so, could represent a strategic decision by the far right to escalate the situation.

Israeli media channels have suggested that the violent attacks came in response to the government's intent to demolish Ramat Gilad, an illegal stronghold in the West Bank. Once the settlers learned of the government's plan they unleashed the current cycle of violence. However, past attempts by the IDF to tear down illegal strongholds have never led to such extreme results. They usually end with the settlers being evicted by force from the area only to return the next morning.

It's possible that the explanation for this violent outburst lies elsewhere. Perhaps the hawkish Israeli right has now decided to respond to the events that took place in Israel during the previous summer.

In the months of July and August Israel experienced a civic awakening. Hundreds of young Israelis pitched up tents in Tel Aviv's Rothschild Blvd in protest of what they called "social injustice". Before there was "Occupy Wall St.," there was "Occupy Tel Aviv".

The tents soon multiplied and became a nationwide phenomenon. One could sense the coming of a revolution as economy students abandoned their Adam Smith textbooks and journeyed into Karl Mark's Communist Manifesto. A movement was born, the Social Justice movement.

The 2011 summer climaxed with the largest demonstration in Israel's history attended by some half a million people all demanding a more just society to be achieved by the redistribution of national resources and a shift in national priorities.

During the protests, the leaders of the Social Justice movement were careful not to name names. They simply demanded the re distribution of resources without saying where the money would come from. But the answer was obvious, the settlements. The occupation was and remains the heaviest burden on Israel's economy. The expansion of the settlements necessitates monstrous budgets for security and physical, social and economic infrastructure.
The new Great Society could only be built on the ruins of the Israeli occupation.

This was the greatest challenge the settlement movement ever faced. It transcended party politics. In the tents, Likud voters slept alongside Avodah voters, left and right finally met in the Israeli middle. The occupiers of Rothschild Blvd did what no government in Israeli history was able to do; they defied the far right and threatened its existence.

Now we are experiencing the backlash. Hell hath no fury like an Israeli zealot scorned.

Typically, once the radical right lashes out, the Israeli government retreats. When the far right flexes a muscle, the Prime Minister's knee jerks. This is not just a result of the fanatics frightening appearance but rather the realization that the hawkish right wing does not feel bound to the rules of the democratic playing field. The decree of the lord is far more powerful than the decree of the courts.

The hawks are banking on the same thing happening again. While the government's rhetoric is that of resolve, its actions could prove to the contrary. The current clash is meant to achieve one thing; eradicate all memory of the social justice platform and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the Israeli settlement movement. It also comes to illustrate to the Israeli public and the government the price it would pay should it choose to threaten the settlement movement again, the price of a war amongst brothers.

Ilan Manor

Tel Aviv

November 24, 2016 23:04

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