Haaretz (Editorial)
March 10, 2008 - 5:49pm

We can assume that the young people who harassed Education Minister Yuli Tamir outside the Mercaz Harav yeshiva as she emerged from there yesterday after consoling the mourners, were not sent to do so by the rabbis who head the yeshiva. And nevertheless, the unbridled incitement shouted by the youths found an echo among the national-religious leadership, its rabbis and its educators.

The almost automatic response of the National Unity-National Religious Party (NRP) faction members, who hastened to point an accusing finger at the government and to claim that the attack took place because of its hesitant policy in Gaza, was expected, but it suffers from distorted logic and a lack of fairness.

The belligerent politicians are well aware that a military operation in Gaza is liable only to intensify the motivation for painful attacks in Jerusalem. They are also contradicting their own version, to the effect that terror strikes indiscriminately, and without any connection to policy (because "it is known that Esau hates Jacob"). All this does not prevent them from exploiting the pain and mourning to chalk up a political achievement of pressure on the government.

But the voices heard after the murder in the yeshiva itself and in circles close to it are no less infuriating. Had the attack taken place in a university, said one of the rabbis, the secular public would have been more shocked. Such a statement and similar ones do not stem, as the right explained, from pain and sorrow and a sense of humiliation at the supposed rejection of the religious public by the middle ground in Israel. Like the politicians, the rabbis are also well aware that the general public was deeply shocked by the massacre, and its heart goes out to the bereaved families.

This feeling does not contradict or conceal the abyss between the various parts of Israeli society. This is a profound ideological abyss, at whose foundation lies the most central question of our existence. The religious right, whose motivating force is Gush Emunim, and the heads of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva as the spearhead of this force, have led one government after another, and in retrospect the entire State of Israel, on a destructive political and social path.

The Israeli left, and with it the not inconsiderable moderate public, has been battling this trend since the early 1970s. The debate about peace and the territories, and the differences of opinion between proponents of Greater Israel on the one hand, and those who favor territorial compromise and oppose the occupation on the other, is genuine, but there is no connection between it and mourning the lives of innocent young boys that were cruelly ended. Furthermore: The attempt to accuse the political rivals of the Greater Israel rabbis of indifference toward the tragedy borders on cynical pornography.

A terror attack is a terror attack, and murdered children are murdered children. Using them to prove how inferior the religious community is, presumably, in the eyes of some imaginary left-secular elite, and attempting to measure with imaginary rulers the attitude of the secular public toward acts of heroism of a skullcap-wearing soldier or officer, and to determine in advance that he is "less admired" than a hero without a head covering, are unacceptable.

The deceit of the leaders of the national-religious community, who are appropriating the murdered boys and the mourning to themselves, and at the same time actually crying out that the left is not a partner to their mourning, is superfluous. Worse than that: It is undignified and destructive.


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