Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stop picking on the settlers

Assaf Wohl is sick and tired of exaggerated attention given to small minority of rightist provocateurs
Assaf Wohl

Recently it appears that one can no longer evade the settlers. For example, there they are on the television screen, burning an olive tree. On the radio, once an hour, they beat up members of the security forces. In news website headlines, they fill the land with unauthorized outposts and even dare not name them after Rabin. Every Jewish burp across the Green Line becomes a major headline on the news channels. Hard-working reporters rush to record it, leftist groups document it on video, and news commentators make sure to analyze its aroma and acidity level.

The politicians, the media’s servants, do not disappoint either. “Radicals want to crack the State’s authority,” said Barak. “We shall not accept rebellious settlers,” screamed the headlines, quoting what seems like a sort of swan song by our prime minister. And there we have Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, wisely ruling that “there will be another assassination around here.” They are all followed by a whole parade of bandwagon riders fighting for the leftist vote.

I’m sick and tired of seeing the settlers every day, the whole day, making headlines. Any person who is a little honest, even a tiny bit so, would notice the disproportional media coverage. For a long time now this has not been journalism, but rather, outright propaganda.

The media-covered provocateurs among the settlers are merely a small minority out of 250,000 law-abiding citizens. Yet if our leaders decide to enforce the law, perhaps they should also show some interest in what goes on within the Green Line. We, the citizens, suffer the actions of law-breakers who are no less violent than the “hilltop youth,” yet nobody does anything.

Citizens are being run over in hit-and-run accidents regularly. Crime families do whatever they want. And those who enjoy talking about unauthorized buildings would do well to visit Bedouin areas in the south and north once in a while.

Yet even beyond the Green Line, the coverage is one sided. Anarchists and “peace activists” attack our soldiers every week. Not too long ago, a soldier lost his eye in the Palestinian village of Bil’in; just imagine this would have happened in the settlement of Yitzhar. As it turns out, the writers and speech-makers are not guided by the desire to see enforcement.

Settlers know exactly why they’re here

What surprises me is the lack of judgment shown by the reporters. Not because I’m naïve enough to think they still possess some kind of decency, but rather, because such hysterical coverage often works against them. It prompts a deep sense of antagonism within the public, which also manifests itself quite clearly in the responses to such news items. So why do they do it? It appears that there is no escaping the conclusion that the hatred often makes them lose their professional decency.

Because these settlers reflect what the Israeli Left used to be in the past, and will never be again. Ideologically motivated, self-confident, and most importantly, willing to sacrifice.

The settlers know exactly why and for what purpose they are here. On the other side, I fail to notice any leftist ideology that is not about hedonism. Even socialism finds it hard to connect to the well-established and well-to-do strata of Israel’s Left; strata that openly condemn Bibi, but secretly hope that he returns to the Finance Ministry.

The days of ideology are over. The way leftists look at the settlers today is similar to the way a 60-year-old woman looks at the youth of a fitness instructor who just joined the army. Deep inside, they know what even Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen have internalized: Their time has passed.

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