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Jerusalem Post: "Pines: Stop compassion for Jewish terror"

The attack against Sternhell came less than a month after right-wing Rabbi Yisrael Rozen attacked Peace Now in a weekly pamphlet that is distributed to synagogues

Oct. 2, 2008 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

"There are violent forces 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," Knesset House Committee chairman Ophir Paz-Pines said Thursday. He spoke during a committee debate on last week's pipe-bomb attack on Israel Prize winner Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, allegedly perpetrated by right-wing extremists.

"Palestinian terror is dealt with in a comprehensive manner, but there is a feeling that there's a certain amount of compassion regarding serious violence, and at times terror, perpetrated by Jews," he said.

Paz-Pines called the attack on Sternhell a terror attack. "That is exactly what it is, particularly when we are talking about an ideological argument."

The committee chairman said there was a connection between the murder of Yitzhak Rabin and the attack on Sternhell.

"We need to deal with this with a very strong hand. These people are terrorists. They are Jewish, but they are terrorists," he continued.

Sternhell himself also addressed the committee.

"A crime is a crime and we must deal with criminals as we deal with criminals anywhere. These criminals must be caught and tried," said the left-wing professor.

"I am not making complaints against the IDF or the police, but they cannot operate if there is no political will and determination on the part of the government and its leaders. No police force or army in the world can work properly without the appropriate backing," he continued.

MK David Rotem (Israel Beitenu), declared that while he absolutely condemned the attack on Sternhell, "to the same degree, I want to condemn the 'Sternhell Festival' Israel has been celebrating for the last ten days. The settler community has been hounded, but does anyone actually know who did it?

"We can say that those who perpetrated this attack are criminals. I agree with this and with the fact that we need to make every effort to catch them, but the people who killed Marguerita Lautin in Bat Yam are no better and I haven't seen a festival on this case. I haven't heard anybody saying that this is a threat to democracy."

Rotem then launched a scathing attack on the Left.

"The public has already spewed out Peace Now together with the idea that Judea and Samaria must be evacuated. This attack has brought you back to life and put you back in the headlines," he said.

MK Yossi Beilin responded, "How can you use the words 'Sternhell festival?' I am not being objective, since Sternhell was my teacher, but to say 'Sternhell festival?' How can you?"

MK Zehava Gal-On said that it was not enough to merely condemn the attack, which she said was "the result of the establishment, which is scared of the settlers, collectively closing its eyes."

She said the settler community had representatives in positions of power who legitimized violence and hooliganism, adding that whoever allowed attacks on Palestinians and soldiers to happen also allowed attacks on intellectuals.

MK Dov Henin (Hadash) said, "There is no doubt that there is a connection between the occupation and all the trouble and sickness it creates, and what is happening in Israeli society."

Henin accused Rotem of trying to push the blame away from himself and the right-wing camp.

The attack against Sternhell came less than a month after right-wing Rabbi Yisrael Rozen attacked Peace Now in a weekly pamphlet that is distributed to synagogues, in which he said that the group was deserving of the death penalty, which according to Jewish law could be imposed on informers.

He said that members of Peace Now were worse than heretics or apostates. He then tried to take the weight off his comments with a warning for those who shared his beliefs not to take the law into their own hands.