Prof. Sternhell: ArabTerrorism Is Justified
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has condemned alleged Jewish extremists living in Judea and Samaria for a pipe-bomb attack upon an extremist left wing Israeli academic, Ze’ev Sternhell, before any evidence connecting such elements to the crime had been taken. Olmert stated that “It is impossible not to see a direct line between the murder of Emil Grunzweig, the awful murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the attack on Prof. Sternhell, which happily left him alive, albeit lightly wounded. It is impossible not to see a link between these events which have occurred over the years. An evil wind of extremism, of hatred, of malice, of violence, of running amok, of breaking the law, of contempt for the institutions of the state is blowing through certain sections of the Israeli public and threatens Israeli democracy, the ability of those entrusted by the State of Israel to make decisions and the ability to freely express one’s views without fear of being attacked by wild, violent law-breakers, who disregard all frameworks of proper, democratic life. The security services have been instructed to deal with this instance, to investigate it, and to act with the greatest possible speed in order to bring those responsible – for what seems like another underground to justice, so that they might be punished for this awful thing that they have done” (Cabinet communiqué, September 28, 2008, Independent Media Review Analysis).
The Knesset has also debated the Sternhell attack, in which the Labor Party’s Ophir Paz-Pines, Knesset House Committee chairman, said, “There are violent forces operating in Israeli society that take the law into their own hands and would not hesitate to murder or try to murder whoever stands in their way
We have to take very firm action. These are terrorists Jewish, but terrorists just the same.” The generalized accusation against Jews in Judea and Samaria led Knesset Member David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu Party), who condemned the attack on Sternhell, to describe it as “the Sternhell festival” and to ask “For days now, people have been casting aspersions on the settler population saying that it was guilty, but does anybody know who did it?” (‘Knesset committee debates Sternhell attack,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 2, 2008).
Sternhell, who has been a long term extremist left-wing critic of Israel, has called for the use of force against Jewish in Judea and Samaria whom he describes as fascists who threaten democracy. In 1988, he told the newspaper Davar “Only he who is willing to storm Ofra [a Jewish community north of Jerusalem in Samaria] with tanks will be able to block the fascist danger threatening to drown Israeli democracy” (Gil Ronen, ‘Israel Prize to go to Pro-Terror, Pro-Civil War Prof.,’ Israel National News, February 8, 2008). Sternhell also wrote in 2001 that Palestinian “armed resistance (i.e. terrorism targeting Israeli civilians) is justified and recommended that Palestinian terror groups target Jewish adults living in Judea and Samaria “Palestinians would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the settlements, avoid harming women and children and strictly refrain from firing on Gilo, Nahal Oz or Sderot; it would also be smart to stop planting bombs to the west of the Green Line” (Ze’ev Sternhell, ‘Facing a sleepwalking government,’ Haaretz, May 11, 2001, reproduced by Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 28, 2008).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn the attack upon Professor Sternhell. We condemn this crime, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrators. We are also deeply concerned that there is a tendency to blame Jews living in Judea and Samaria for committing various attacks and alleged attacks before evidence has been taken in the matter. Another recent example of this was the acceptance of false Palestinian claims that a Bedouin shepherd had been shot dead by Jews living in Judea and Samaria when in fact the subsequent investigation revealed that he had been killed when an unexploded grenade he found and picked up detonated.
“This is unacceptable demonization and it a pity that Mr. Olmert and Mr. Pines-Paz chose to engage in it before an investigation had been called to examine the attack upon Professor Sternhell. Indeed, Mr. Olmert announced that he had ordered an investigation in the very communiqué in which he leveled his accusation. The comments tarring Jews from Judea and Samaria generally for this attack in the Knesset discussion is also a disgrace. These things should not happen in a rule of law society. An investigation is designed to reveal the perpetrators of a crime; not to confirm baseless assertions as to their probable identity.
“In this context, we note that Mr. Olmert has not condemned Professor Sternhell’s condoning of Palestinian terrorism and recommendation that it be used against certain Israeli citizens, something that should be beyond the pale. In fact, Mr. Olmert has never used such words as ‘an evil wind of extremism, of hatred, of violence’ to condemn terrorism perpetrated, not only by Hamas, but also by Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA), Abbas’ own Fateh and individuals protected by the PA. On the contrary, he has called Abbas a peacemaker and moderate again, without corroborative evidence.
“It is important that people and groups in Israel not be collectively demonized. All are entitled to a presumption of innocence. We urge the Israeli government to cease this tendency to delegitimize political opponents by baselessly and opportunistically accusing them of crimes.”