Israel on the 17th of Tammuz: Confronting the Enemy Within


Credit: Creative Commons

Yesterday the Jewish world observed the fast day known as Shiv’ah Asar Be’Tammuz, (the 17th of Tammuz), a communal day of quasi-mourning that commemorates among other things, the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Roman army in 70 CE, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple.
Interestingly enough, the 17th of Tammuz – as well as the upcoming fast day of Tisha B’Av – is not so much a day of anger directed toward our enemies, as much as an occasion for soul searching over the ways our own behavior too often leads to our downfall. According to the Talmud (Yoma 9b), for instance, the fall of the First Temple was due to the idolatry while the destruction of the Second Temple was caused by sinat chinam – the “baseless hatred” of Jew against Jew.
I would submit that this year, the 17th of Tammuz has an all-too-tragic resonance, particularly given the internecine violence currently being waged on Israeli streets.

Case in point: this past Saturday in Tel Aviv, in which hundreds of peaceful anti-war protesters were set upon by a violent mob whipped up by popular right-wing Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi (whose stage name is “The Shadow.”) According to reports in the Israeli press, Eliasi and his followers angrily confronted and intimidated demonstrators – and when an air raid siren caused the crowd to disperse, they chased them through the streets and attacked them with clubs. During the melee, the sky lit up as a Gazan missile was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.
In an extensive post for +972mag, Israeli journalist Haggai Matar reported that one demonstrator had a chair broken over his head and had to be evacuated to hospital. Others were punched, pushed, had eggs thrown at them or were attacked with pepper spray. According to witnesses, police did little to stop the violence and in the end, no arrests were made. (The Shadow later bragged about the support of Israeli police on his Facebook page.)
In what is undoubtedly the most deeply disturbing aspect of this entire affair was the discovery that some of the right-wing thugs who attacked the demonstrators wore T-shirts bearing a popular neo-Nazi symbol. According to a report in Ha’aretz:

As shown on journalist Tal Schneider’s Hebrew-language blog, some of the right-wingers wore T-shirts bearing the slogan “Good night left side.”
Neo-Nazis in Europe wear shirts with this phrase, which accompanies an image of a man attacking a left-wing activist, denoted by a star or anarchy symbol. The online store Final Resistance offers clothing bearing neo-Nazi slogans – popular attire at rock concerts by far-right bands.

If you’re still incredulous, check out this image below, from the Facebook page Occupy Judaism:

In a scathing editorial, Ha’aretz laid the blame on ultra-nationalist Israeli politicians for inciting and encouraging this ominously rising violence and for refusing “to internalize the real danger inherent in the type of violence displayed on Saturday.” This is, indeed, one of the central messages of the 17th of Tammuz: for all of the concern about our external enemies, we ignore the dangers growing within our own community at our peril.
I can think of no more sobering example than this recent instance of Jews in fascist regalia violently attacking peaceful Jewish anti-war demonstrators while a missile launched out of Gaza literally explodes over their heads.

6 thoughts on “Israel on the 17th of Tammuz: Confronting the Enemy Within

  1. What is it going to take to end this madness? Only Yahweh can answer that question and He remains silent. I fear that Israel is sowing the seeds of its own destruction — again.

  2. We have a new mantra heavily in use by the uber liberal anti Israel forces…Israel is going to destroy itself with hate and fury,becoming a fascist nazi like state…which of course is totally ridiculous…just because there is a bunch of kids who react to the Palestinians murders and thousand of rockets aimed at a violent way…this is not to say that the murder of the Arab boy was was a horrible crime and the perpetrators were caught ..of course rabbi Rosen makes no mention of the violence aimed at Jews in Europe and in college campuses in the US…..will there be no end the the blood libel lies and hateful poisonous charges leveled at Israel by her Jewish enemy’s

  3. Amazing that Israel has strong Democratic institutions while facing internal problems and external threats Hoe does its neighbors deal with internal problems. Some 200,000 victims in Syria are no longer alive to answer.

  4. Rabbi Rosen,the sad part is both those dates the 17th of Tammuz and the Tesha B’Av, are not taken as a self reflecting as you say, but as a harbored hate toward the outside( others) by most Jews , and that is the deep seeded conflicting emotionless tragedy that most Israelis and Jewish people are functioning from, as they continue to see them selves as the victims of all others ( we against the world)aggression including their own victims, the Palestinians, and till that changes, this sad discourse will continue and history might repeat itself, because nothing has changed. Jews feel that they are hated because they are Jews and not because what is Israel is doing today in their name. The past is the past and we should learn from it, and not think, if we close our selves again with high walls and have few hundred nuclear heads the world will change their views of us! That is distraction all over again, me and my enemies will parish philosophy that is just not healthy nor humanistic ! Thanks for your sharing and writing!

  5. I’m not an economist, but I can just imagine what could have been built in Gaza if all of the material and human capital and resources that went into building the tunnel infrastructure after Israel left in 2005 would have been used instead to build the infrastructure of a modern nation. It is Hamas alone that has kidnapped and enslaved the people of Gaza and confined them to their prison.,7340,L-4550063,00.html

  6. Confronting the enemy within – I LOVE IT! I think it was Lenin who coined the most suitable term for the Brant and his distinguished colleagues on the JVP Rabbinical Council … it was a two word phrase beginning with “useful.” Look it up. I’m afraid that spelling it out is likely to cause this comment to be censored. I hope we’ll have the opportunity to see Rabbi Brant leading his congregation in heckling the Israel supporters at the rally tomorrow in downtown Chicago.

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