My new piece on the arrest of alleged terrorist Yaakov Teitel and its context is up at The American Prospect:
The glossy flier was posted on a bulletin border in a small, illegal outpost of Israeli settlers near Nablus in the West Bank when I visited last week. The black print appeared over a soft green picture of olive trees. The West Bank is famed for its olive oil, and autumn is harvest season. For years, it’s also been the season when settlers from the most extreme outposts and settlements clash with Palestinian farmers and vandalize orchards.
Citing religious sources, the flier urged Jews to “harvest” the Palestinians’ olives if they could, and uproot the trees if they couldn’t. Since Judaism forbids not only theft but also the destruction of fruit trees even in warfare, the writer had to use considerable casuistry to make his case. It was, in religious terms, akin to preaching the “obligation” of adultery.
The fact that the flier was anonymous indicates that whoever stands behind it prefers not to be known to Israeli law-enforcement agencies. It was condemned a few days later in a popular right-leaning newsletter, published in a settlement and given away in synagogues. The moderate right is disturbed by such tactics — and the flier was distributed widely enough to become an issue. The flier’s text is testimony to the violence and lawlessness that are part of the ideological atmosphere at the settlement movement’s radical edge. The mayhem isn’t just the work of a few crazed individuals.
Use that as context for understanding the arrest of Yaakov Teitel, announced last Sunday by Israeli police. The list of Teitel’s alleged offenses reads like a brief guide to hate crime: attacks on random members of another nationality, on people he saw as promoting apostasy, on a prominent left-wing intellectual, on police whom he saw as protecting “sodomites.”
At first glance, Teitel might look like the angry man for whom the fury comes first, and the objects of the fury only afterward. He was reportedly seen as a loner on the small West Bank settlement where he lived; he kept a small arsenal in his house; he learned to make bombs from the Internet.
But that’s framing the picture much too narrowly. Even if Teitel is a man driven by his own particular furies, he chose to live in an environment where acting on fury is sometimes treated as acceptable, even as a virtue. …
Read the rest here, and come back to SoJo to comment.