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A green light for the next murder

By Yoel Marcus (Haaretz) Aug 2, 2002

A friend who attended the funeral of one of the West Bank terror victims this week told me the following story: It was a quiet, respectable service, a gathering of family and friends, when all of a sudden a rowdy, disruptive bunch of hooligans materialized out of nowhere, brandishing signs reading "Prosecute the Oslo criminals" and cursing everyone who was involved in the peace process or had worked to promote it. Within moments, he related, the funeral had turned into a frenzied, violent demonstration.

My friend, who served in an official capacity in the Barak administration, was worried that someone might recognize him and rough him up. "For the first time in my life," he said, "I felt real physical fear."

These people, the likes of whom we also saw this week in Hebron, running wild and coming to blows with Israeli policemen, go from funeral to funeral spreading fear and panic, and, most of all, hatred. They are referred to as the "lunatic fringe," but in practice, they set the tone. They terrorize the state and their impact on the national atmosphere threatens Israel's democratic character.

When Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer - not the kind of guy you'd like to meet in a dark, narrow alley - says at the Labor Party convention: "You're brave, Haim Ramon. Let's see you dismantle 200 settlements. Let's see you dismantle one," it's clear that they've already got him quaking in his boots. The political policy of not removing a single settlement was dictated long ago.

They've also managed to create an atmosphere in which anyone who has any connection to peace is a criminal or a traitor. They can be seen at the site of every terror attack, inciting the crowd with their anti-Oslo rhetoric. In the confusion following the suicide bombing at the cafe on Allenby Street, we saw how quickly "Death to Arafat" turned into "Death to Peres." Their demands to put the whole government on trial are as catchy as Asiatic flu. The world of politicians is now divided into patriots and traitors.

In these seditious times, when a poster demanding that Peres be shot or hung for treason appears around town; when Michael Kleiner calls the architects of Oslo a "fifth column;" when MK Uri Ariel calls for the criminals of Oslo to be prosecuted on charges of endangering IDF soldiers, nothing is surprising anymore.

A while back, 43 academics signed a petition, like they do in Egypt, to prevent Yossi Beilin from giving a lecture on campus, "because he is responsible for the deaths of 400 Israelis since the beginning of the intifada." Prof. Zaritsky said at the time: "I am not ashamed to say that the people behind the Oslo accords ought be put on trial for secretly conducting illegal negotiations - a crime that merits the same punishment as treason."

Traitors or criminals, these hotheads forget that the Oslo accords were approved by the Knesset in 1993, hence they are also binding on the Sharon administration. So what are they going to do? Hang everyone?

We said it was catchy, didn't we? The left-wing Yesh Gvul movement, which says soldiers should refuse to serve in the territories, Sharon should be indicted for war crimes, and Dichter and Ya'alon should be tried for assassinating Salah Shehadeh is no different from the lunatic fringe on the right. Both are steering us toward violence and civil war.

The atmosphere of today is even more poisoned than it was in the last month of Rabin's life. The poster of Rabin in an SS uniform held aloft at Zion Square; the non-stop personal incitement; the statements of Prof. Hillel Weiss of the Professors for a Strong Israel who explored the possibility of prosecuting Rabin as a traitor - in the end, all of this produced a murderer.

In the light of this bitter experience, it is astonishing how complacent we are about the ugly tide of physical threats now sweeping the country. For the rioters in Hebron not to be prosecuted is unacceptable. For the attorney general to ignore demands to investigate those who utter such threats and print posters that implicitly encourage the assassination of leaders is also unacceptable.

The one and only traitor and criminal of the Oslo accords is Yasser Arafat, who, with all his incitement and provocation, lost a state with his own two hands and led his people to the edge of the abyss.

That a crazed minority in Israel should cooperate with the murderers of peace in the Palestinian camp by denouncing the elected leaders of Israel is intolerable. Equally intolerable is that this minority should infect an entire nation with its messianic disease, and use freedom of expression and the weakness of the law enforcement system to give a green light for the next murder.