Desecrating God's Name; Weakening the Nation. Hilltop Youth Must be Stopped

By Barry Shrage, President of CJP

A video, released last week on Israeli television, showed the Jerusalem wedding of a right-wing couple. It featured friends of the suspected assailants in the July firebomb attack on a home in the Palestinian village of Duma. In the video, party-goers stab a photo of the Dawabshe family – including an infant, Ali Dawabshe - and wave knives, rifles, pistols and Molotov cocktails. The crowd chants the words to a song that includes a verse from Judges 16:28, in which Samson says, “Let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” The crowd substitutes “Palestinians” for Philistines.

The video is as shocking as it is sickening. The outcry from Israelis, Americans and Jews around the country has been swift.

"The vigilante and lawless calls for revenge and dancing with machine guns and knives are anathema to Jewish morality and religious standards,” Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the (Orthodox) Rabbinical Council of America, said in a statement issued on Thursday.

"The shocking images ... show the true face of a group that constitutes a threat to Israeli society and Israel’s security,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday. “We will not accept people who violate the state’s laws and do not see themselves as bound by them.”

The youths in the video have been condemned from across Israel’s political and religious spectrum.

They have left us all with so many questions.

What monsters rejoice at the death of an infant?

What kind of evil causes people to celebrate the terrible death by fire of an innocent family?

How do people who call themselves religious desecrate the name of God and slaughter the innocent?

How do people who call themselves Jewish forget when our infants were thrown into the fires of the Holocaust or our people burned alive at the stake by the Inquisition in the name of religion?

We must remember what religious violence looks like in all its terrifying ugliness, whether the beheading of innocent Christians or Yazidis, the vicious slaughter of thousands of innocent Israelis by Palestinian and Islamist terrorists, or the so-called “price tag” terrorism and murder, celebrated in the wedding video.  While Jewish terrorism is, thank God, far less common than the terrorism Israel faces on a daily basis, it nevertheless constitutes a very real threat to our basic Jewish values and the very existence of the State of Israel.

We are and must be different from our enemies. 

As the Prime Minister put it:

“There is a huge difference between the healthy approach of Israeli society and Israeli democracy that rejects terrorism and acts against it, and the PA that unfortunately encourages it."

We must condemn religious violence and religious murder of every kind Muslim or Christian or Jewish. 

But we must do more.  This is far more dangerous than a few extremists at the fringe of Israeli society. We must look for the source of the violence in the Hilltop Youth movement, in the ideology of the Hilltop settlements that produced them, and among those Rabbis and political leaders that encourage or excuse their actions. 

Religious violence must be seen as reprehensible and rejected in the eyes of man as it is in the eyes of God.  As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it:

"Too often, people have killed in the name of the God of life, waged war in the name of the God of peace, hated in the name of the God of love and practiced cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. When this happens, God speaks, sometimes in a still, small voice almost inaudible beneath the clamor of those claiming to speak on his behalf. What he says at such times is: Not in My Name.”


Barry Shrage

About the Author

A passionate advocate for Jews in Greater Boston and around the world, CJP President Barry Shrage has worked tirelessly to create an inclusive community and drive positive change.

CJP welcomes an open dialogue!  Please refer to our policy for more information.


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