Yitzhar rabbi: ‘Establishment’ to blame for settler-soldier clashes

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The “establishment,” or the army and the government of Israel, are responsible for the current clashes between soldiers and settlers, the head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar said in a statement.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh released the statement on Friday, addressing the takeover of the yeshiva earlier this month by the Israel Defense Forces and calls by leaders of the settler movement for him to condemn recent attacks by Yitzhar residents and yeshiva students on Israeli soldiers and police.

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Ginsburgh said he is “distressed by any clash of Jews with Jews – between soldiers and settlers – ‘We are all sons of one man.’” But, he added, “it must be stated clearly that the guilty party for this situation is the establishment, which has been behaving with aggression and brute force towards Jews, yet with magnanimousness and lenience towards enemies of the Jewish People.”

Among  Ginsburgh’s objections, according to the statement, was preventing Jews from building in the West Bank and ignoring illegal building by the Palestinians, releasing Palestinian prisoners, and defining “as ‘terror’ and ‘hate crimes’ trivial acts of protest (even arresting minors for spraying graffiti on walls, etc.).”

“Under these circumstances, an accusing finger must first be pointed at those who are truly responsible for this deterioration and a demand made that they improve their behavior regarding these issues. We should not ignore the positive actions that the military forces do in defending the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, which are certainly praiseworthy, however neither can we gloss over our harsh criticism for the injustices they are responsible for,” Ginsburgh wrote.

Early last month, Yitzhar residents attacked an army outpost in the settlement after the demolition of five illegal homes built on the settlement.

Ginsburgh’s statement followed a vote taken last week by members of the Yitzhar community. More than 50 percent of the settlement’s adult members voted against violence toward the IDF. The Yitzhar secretariat had threatened to quit if the community did not approve the measure.

A couple from Yitzhar was arrested last week for alleged involvement in a price tag attack on a mosque in an Israeli-Arab town in northern Israel.

On Sunday, right wing activists threw rocks at police who came to Yitzhar to search the couple’s home.

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