As is the case with societies lacking minimal self-confidence, the religious-national approach is becoming childish and simplistic. Everything is painted in black or white, or in the words of Joshua: "Are you for us or for our enemies?" without any kind of varied midway.
This may be the reason why the religious Right is unable to address the phenomenon of murderers who time and again emerge from its ranks.
Immediately after the news of Yaakov Teitel’s arrest, we saw the conditioned responses of the Pavlovian Right. “Goldring is also a murderer and he’s a radical leftist” was one such argument, which would insult any human being, for two reasons. First, Goldring did not murder his daughter because of nationalistic zealousness that characterizes rightist murderers. The second issue is even graver: Does the fact that a leftist committed murder mitigates at all the fact that again we see a murderer within the rightist camp? Why should I even care what leftists are doing? Each side should be dealing with its own problems.
“This man is a psychopath,” muttered some religious rightist leaders. Indeed. It is quite possible that we are dealing with a psychopath. Yet he is not “just a psychopath,” but rather, a rightist religious psychopath. Yes, r-e-l-i-g-i-u-s.
Interestingly enough, this psychopath aimed to murder Arabs, a leftist professor, Messianic Jews, and perhaps a few homosexuals while he was at it. What to do all these targets have in common? You don’t know? Well, let’s hold an experiment.
Condemnations aren’t enough
Enter one of the rightist online forums and write any message, presenting yourself as a “Messianic Jew,” “leftist professor” or “Arab.” Don’t forget to bring an umbrella against virtual spitting. At these forums, there is no room for accepting different views without hatred, violence, and incitement.
In this context, try to search the name “Nitzan Horowitz” in one of these forums. The issue is unimportant, as the responses will always be about the person, rather than about the issue. Repeating the words you will find there is difficult. In most cases, violence against the abovementioned sectors is justified and even encouraged by a majority of users.
And still in this context, I still remember an episode from the high-school yeshiva I attended. The singing of “Shula, Shula (Aloni), a day will come and we’ll settle the score” was part of the Shabbat repertoire at the dining hall. The rabbis present in the room did not think there was any problem with this tune. This very same reality takes place today in different formats.
It’s clear to me that none of the rabbis preach for murder. I also do not believe that there is a rabbi who would approve of murder. Yet the overall atmosphere is very violent, and the myriad of excuses and sophisticated word games cannot hide it. As a staunch rightist, these excuses even insult me. Radical leftists are no better in my view, but I’m sick and tired of discovering that those who take up arms mostly come from the camp I cast my vote for.
So on a final note, I have a request for the rabbis and religious educators. It is not enough to condemn. Please, enter the forums your students write in. You will no doubt discover that too many “bad weeds” have taken root in your gardens. If you do not quickly start to uproot them, we can expect horrific acts that will spread to additional circles and nearby plots of land.
Perhaps right now you don’t really care that the targets are Arabs, homosexuals, Messianic Jews, and just regular radical leftists. Yet if the situation persists, we can expect to get used to phenomena that at this time do not play a major part in our world. We’ll see a bleeding Reform Jew, a secular Jew who was stoned because he drove on Shabbat, and maybe even a “too moderate” rightist being targeted.
And when these bad weeds put you in their sights, as zealots tend to do, perhaps only then you will stop claiming that the threat is being exaggerated.