The Credo of the Hilltop Youth

The following is an OpEd that appeared in Arutz7  on 29 May 2015

The credo of the “hilltop youth” is expressed in this article whose subject is the undercover police operation at Kochav Hashachar and the story of Elad Selah, an IDF soldier who has been jailed for alleged spying for the hilltop youth.

Meir Ettinger is a Jewish activist. He is the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, H”yd, and the unofficial leader of the hilltop youth. He sent this article to Arutz Sheva and we present it to readers so that his opinion is heard.

The Nationalist Crimes Unit was created three years ago by Tzipi Livni and graced with a huge budget. It’s purpose was to eradicate nationalist crimes, i.e. actions of what are known as Jewish “rebels” who, for their part, feel that they are acting to prevent the further deterioration of the state of Israel.

The officials in this unit harass those they suspect and try to put as many as possible behind bars. They claim repeatedly (and inaccurately) that the Jewish activists hinder them from focusing on the major security problems on which they would prefer to focus, but it is they who decide to expend their energies that way.

Heading Tzipi Livni’s unit is a man who prefers to remain behind the scenes, but who must be exposed in order that we recognize what the face of what we see as modern day Jewish self-hatred is like. His name is Udi Levi, a man who has dedicated the past 15 years of his life to fighting Jewish settlement in the land of Israel and protecting our enemies.

Many prefer to believe that the police and Israeli Security services do not really want to fight Israel’s own youth, and that the expulsions, harassments and arrests are done unwillingly for the good of the public.  But two recent episodes – that of the IDF corporal Elad Selah (the soldier from Bat Ayin accused of ‘spying’ for revealing information to Jewish ‘settlers’) and most tellingly, the undercover operation in Kochav Hashachar (where police pretended to be Arabs encroaching on the town in order to provoke Jewish residents to confront them) should serve as a lesson. It is evidence of how much energy and effort the security services exert in order to thwart the desire to expand the ‘settlement’ movement. Incredible resources are also utilized to eliminate any effort that may encourage stronger responses to spilled Jewish blood.

For several years there had been an unspoken agreement between Jewish residents and the security services – the authorities would ignore new construction in Judea and Samaria as long as Jewish protests after terror attacks were muted.  Unfortunately, most Jewish residents have not yet noticed that the rules of the game have changed. The establishment has made the hilltop youth and Jewish “settlers’ their major focus, escalating their actions to the point where it is a war against our very survival. This is why officials found it proper to destroy the “Chazon David” synagogue near Hevron on the same night Arabs perpetrated two terror attacks.  It is also the reason they felt that the correct response to the run over murder of Shalom Cherki in Jerusalem by an Arab driver was to provoke the Jews in Kochav Hashachar and arrest them on the spot.

And then there is the story of Elad Selah. While this is not the first time a Jew has been accused of ‘spying’ on behalf of the ‘settlements’, it is the first time the security services have explicitly defined Jewish hilltop settlers as the ‘enemy.’ This was done matter of factly, without any uproar, as if declaring part of the Jewish population in Israel as an enemy is a light matter! The fact is that the security services have been acting for a long time now as if the main enemy of the State of Israel is Jewish children who move to the hills of Judea and Samaria (‘Hilltop Youth’) and that helping these youngsters is akin to treason.

It seems as though their raison d’être is to fight against us, Jews who dare aspire for a true Jewish state. The situation has become so dire that the security services leave no stone unturned to seek out such people. As part of their efforts, they meticulously plan how to prevent Jews from settling unauthorized hilltops. They go from hilltop to hilltop threatening new towns that they will destroy their homes unless they receive the proper paperwork from the Civil Administration and the Regional Councils. When a Jew’s blood is spilled in a terror attack, they go from yeshiva to yeshiva, town to town, to insure that there will be no response, other than an op-ed column by a family member.

A pure and righteous Jew is sitting in jail for helping his fellow righteous Jews. Has the Israeli establishment declared war on all idealists who dream and strive for the Jewish Redemption? Those who condemn Elad Selah and those who condemn the ‘radical’ Jews he helped are explicitly helping in this war against holy Jews.

One day following the murder of Shalom Cherki, Udi Levi decided it was time to fight what he seems to feel is the real enemy. A police officer dressed as an Arab along with an actual Arab shepherd, approached the hill of Maale Shlomo and began screaming and cursing in the hopes of provoking Jewish residents to respond. Waiting to catch the resident in the act were dozens of police officers hiding a few hundred meters away.

What exactly did the police expect Jews to do when they saw Arabs approaching their town – call the police from the Nationalist Crimes Unit? Who can expect the police to chase the Arabs away, when it is they themselves who are bringing them to the area?  Remember, Arabs scope out a town before plotting a terror attack as was the case with the Fogel family. Obviously Jewish residents will protect themselves and chase away the Arab encroachers. In any case, this unconscionable plot led to the arrest of five Jews for ‘attacking’ the Arab shepherd.

Though it may be clear to the vast majority of the nation that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people – to the police, the security services and the courts, sometimes one cannot help feeling that the opposite is clear. Can it be that the police couldn’t care less if an Arab seems to be threatening the lives of Jewish residents? What the town of Kochav HaShachar considers despicable provocations, the courts view as appropriate policy.

What is the answer? The Unit has declared us the enemy, preventing us from settling new hilltops, and is arresting us for defending ourselves. Must we give up on our dreams, give up on settling the land? Must we walk around in bulletproof vests since we are not allowed to protect ourselves and we cannot rely on the police?

We must ponder carefully these recent events and understand why the State is so frightened of what they term ‘nationalist crime.’  How is it that despite the fact that we want the best for our fellow Jews, we are somehow considered the ‘enemy’?  There is much to write in regards to this question yet I would like to reflect on the arrest of Elad Selah and hopefully also answer the above questions.

The indictment of Elad Selah reminds me of what happened to me a few years ago when I was also accused of ‘spying’ and ‘treason’ for warning ‘settlers’ about impending evacuations of their hilltops.  In the end, due to legal technicalities I was found guilty of the less serious charge of “gathering classified information”.  The week I was interrogated for these charges was the same week we read the Torah parsha where Joseph accuses his brothers of arriving in Egypt to ‘spy’ and the brothers struggle to prove their sincerity. They say “kanim anachnu“, meaning “we are truthful people“.  This strange story in the Torah, together with the exaggerated charges against me, along with the long hours I spent in interrogations led me to consider what G-d wanted of me and what He was hinting to me with this accusation of ‘treason.’

What is the difference between ‘spies’ and ‘truthful people’? To be a spy means to hide one’s true intentions while being part of an existing system. Another form of  ‘spying’ is to participate in all sorts of activities, yet hide one’s true thoughts in order to succeed. In contrast, “truthful people” are those who state their true desires openly and work to advance them.

One can also relate to the Nationalist Unit in one of these two ways. Knowing that the interests of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria are not always in line with the interests of the Jewish residents, it is obvious that we cannot blindly rely on them.

This type of dilemma also faces us when we reach the army. Many join the army out of love for the country, but decide to only follow orders that coincide with the Torah position, hoping that by doing so they will be able to advance projects that are good for the Jewish people. But this is the way of a ‘spy’, for such a person is hiding his true intentions and goals. The second option is to be a “truthful person” – state openly that our goal is to live in all of Eretz Yisrael and that we are loyal first to Torah, even if it doesn’t always coincide with government policy as reflected in the army.

The story of Joseph teaches us to act like ‘like truthful people’ as opposed to spies. If Elad Selah is accused of spying, he must accuse those who arrested him of betraying their people.

When we behave like ‘spies’ – hiding our true intentions and that our loyalties lie with G-d, the Jews of Judea and Samaria and the Torah, then the authorities will view us as an enemy from within. The army correctly demands absolute obedience to its authority.

Our goal must be to act “like truthful people” (kanim anachnu) – to openly state our beliefs. We must declare unequivocally that we demand a Jewish State, and our foremost obedience is to G-d. 

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