An exchange of emails between young Jewish settlers has many in Israel worried that the nation could be inching toward civil war over the issue of future control of the land.
A cause of grave concern ever since the forced withdrawal of Jews from Gaza in 2005 has been the use of violence by both those carrying out the evacuation, and those being evacuated, a situation that could easily result in Jews spilling Jewish blood.
A number of times in recent months, Israeli authorities have demolished illegally built homes and structures in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank.” In the Samarian community of Yitzhar, in particular, these demolitions have been marked by violence.
It was in Yitzhar this week that residents belonging to a local email list began discussing whether or not it was permitted to kill an Israeli soldier in perceived defense of the community.
“I support throwing rocks (at Jews, and of course on Arabs without question). In certain circumstances - even if the rocks lead to the death of a soldier!” wrote one young woman who was later arrested for inciting violence.
A 17-year-old youth from the community responded, “There is no Halachtic (Jewish religious) issue with killing a soldier (who’s tearing down our buildings).”
The exchange was immediately condemned by elders in the Yitzhar community, as well as by officials in the broader settler movement.
But the mother of the arrested girl said the problem is only going to grow as the younger generations grow increasingly frustrated at seeing their government make concessions to Israel’s enemies, even as it curtails what they see as the biblically mandated restoration of Jewish life in this land.
“The young generation is tired of walking around crouched and afraid,” she told Yediot Ahronot. “The Israeli nation is alive and well. We need to build up our strength and be an example for other nations.”
Another factor feeding the fears of a future civil war is the hostile manner in which most Jewish settlers are portrayed in the mainstream Israeli media. This portrayal is believed to be largely responsible for the harsh way police often treat settler youth, as well as pronouncements by some left-wing Jewish politicians in recent years that the settlers are no longer their brothers.