Religious extremism


According to the Fairfax press, a firebomb attack in a village on the West Bank in July this year is thought to have been carried out by people described as ‘ nationalist far–right extremists’.  A group of people known as ‘The Revolt’ are intent on creating a Jewish kingdom.  According to Shlomo Fischer of the Jewish People Policy Institute, these people believe that they are acting on the ‘voice of God’. Their goals are to ‘create chaos and undermine the ability of the government to rule and set up a revolutionary redemptive state.  They want to replace the current State of Israel with something else – their main animosity, just like al-Qaeda directing their animosity to the non -jihadist Muslim regimes, is against the government of Israel. They are aware of the fact that they will be treated with kid gloves because they are Jewish – that has been the precedent until now.’

This far-right group sees the existence of this new state as an integral part of redemption, which is said to relate to the liberation of Jews from exile. There is another body call Hilltop Youth.  It shares these views and regards the ‘disengagement’ by the Sharon government in 2005 from the Gaza Strip as a huge blow. For them, the disengagement involved the state turning its back on the redemption process and many settlers thought that they had to work harder to continue the fight. The Hilltop Youth says that the redemption will happen even if the State of Israel is not there.

A party associated with the peace movement in the area said: ‘the settlements are based on discrimination – the fact that you raise children a place where you as an Israeli Jew have rights and Palestinians do not have rights and are instead living under military law; this raises people to believe that they are more than the others.’

The same article says that two members of this far right group of religious extremists have been arrested and subjected to detention under laws passed to deal with terrorists. One of these is a dual Australian Israeli citizen named Evyatar Slonim.  It is said that Israel holds hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention under these laws. The parents of Slonim said that they were absolutely horrified that in a democratic country their son has been imprisoned without a trial.  Slonim’s lawyer said that Israeli intelligence authorities have taken the gloves off since the July attack.  The lawyer gets paid, according to Fairfax, by a ‘right-wing legal centre.’

These terrorists commonly use a calling card with fire-bombs thrown into homes with people in them.  The July raid killed three.  The word ‘Revenge’ appeared with the Star of David.  According to a manifesto of The Revolt, ‘burning tyres can be placed at the entrance of the house to remove the possibility of escape.’

This sort of terrorism is a mix of madness and evil, of religion and nationalism.  It is light years away from the evil of IS.  But although Israelis as a whole utterly reject this evil, they do not as a whole or as a nation utterly reject the continuing settlements.  And the problem is that those settlements draw on the same scripture as the do the terrorists.  Is it possible to have any peace in the Middle East if the settlement issue is not resolved?

People who do not have God – such as me – get sceptical, to put it softly, when people of one God take it on themselves to tell people of another God how to manage their affairs or what kind of reformation or enlightenment that they should undertake.  It gets even worse when you have a complete idiot, like Tony Abbott, boasting that his culture under his God is superior to that of others who follow a lesser God.

We might be just as sceptical about people of one God telling people of another God to keep God out of politics if we recall that God is in politics in the State of Israel up to his neck – spiritually, morally, and geographically.  And we might also recall that the promise in the Israel Declaration of Independence of ‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion race or sex’ holds about as much water as the promise of equality in another Declaration of Independence at the same point in its history.  Sweet Fanny Adams.

Finally, people here worry that the debate about religious extremism here is being stifled.  I have a lot of sympathy with that view.  If you seek to debate the actions of the State of Israel here, you very quickly get spoken to firmly – not by the Jewish community, but by our far right.

Religious extremism is unsettling anywhere and everywhere.  Those who have God think that some believers are not as odd as others; for the unbelievers, they are all much of a muchness.  Infighting between believers is unedifying.  I am yet to meet a person who says that their brand of God is inferior to that of others.  I am yet to meet a person who concedes that other Gods may even be equal to theirs.  I don’t think they are allowed to say anything like that.  They know that most must be wrong but say that they are the only ones who have it right.  None of them is spotless and all are forms of extremism.  .  It is enough to put you off religion full stop.