Friday, January 8, 2016

The Sword That Cuts Two Ways

Radical Israeli rabbis come under fire amid settler violence

JERUSALEM (AP) — A small group of extremist Israeli rabbis who for years have made incendiary remarks against Arabs are drawing criticism from lawmakers and moderate religious leaders after authorities broke up a ring of Jewish extremists accused in a series of attacks on Palestinian and Christian targets.

These fringe rabbis, mainly affiliated with the settler movement in the West Bank, are blamed for nurturing a venomous atmosphere that led to the killing of three Palestinians in a July firebombing. Critics say their rhetoric must be restrained to prevent more youths from further radicalization.

Israel this week issued indictments against two Jewish extremists in the case of the West Bank arson in July that killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh and his parents, Riham and Saad, and seriously wounded his brother, Ahmad, who was 4 at the time.

The firebombing prompted soul-searching among Israelis and was condemned across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged "zero tolerance" in the fight to bring the assailants to justice.

In the days leading up to the indictments, Israeli media exposed another jarring scene: a video from a wedding party that appeared to show a frenzied crowd of the arsonists' sympathizers brandishing military-issued rifles, holding a mock firebomb and stabbing a photo of Ali Dawabsheh.

The video caused a public uproar and put a spotlight on radical rabbis accused of firing up young extremists.

"When we see a handful of rabbis succeeding to turn a handful of youth ... into terrorists ... it means something here is not right and needs to be fixed," opposition lawmaker Karin Elharrar said at a recent hearing about the rabbis.

Last month, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon called for certain rabbis to be investigated, and some moderates have distanced themselves from the radicals. In an interview Wednesday on the Times of Israel website, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel was now "looking at" the role of one or two rabbis in radicalizing youth. Bennett, whose Jewish Home party is closely linked to the settler movement, did not elaborate.

[Emphasis added]
I am not aware of Palestinians prosecuting their own terrorists.

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