On Monday night, hooligans identified with the national religious camp staged three unlawful, and in at least one case violent, protests against the IDF.
First, several dozen people surrounded by hundreds of reporters pretended to set up a new settlement along the border with Jordan. Their aim was to protest Jordan's opposition to repairing the Mugrabi Bridge through which Jews and Christians alight to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The second and third protests' declared aim was to prevent the IDF from carrying out orders to destroy Ramat Gilad, a small enclave of homes in Samaria located on land owned by rancher Moshe Zar and named for his son Gilad who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001.
At one protest, rioters entered the Ephraim Brigade's base for several minutes and vandalized vehicles and spray-painted equipment.
It was the last protest that was truly violent. Hooligans allegedly stoned passing Palestinian vehicles and threw a stone at the car belonging to the deputy brigade commander and injured him.
Violent riots of this sort are virtually unheard of in the national religious sector. The community's devotion to IDF service is so strong that soldiers from the sector are overrepresented in all combat units. Over the past 15 years they have effectively replaced the kibbutz movement as the backbone of the IDF.
It was due to the community's dedication to the military that the protests against the IDF's implementation of the Sharon government's order to expel some 10,000 citizens from their homes in Gaza and Northern Samaria in August 2005 were almost entirely nonviolent.
Viewed in the context of the community's loyalty to the IDF, the unlawful, ant-IDF riots Monday night were the sort of "man bites dog" story that it was reasonable to assume the media would pounce on.
It could be reasonably assumed that a responsible media would ask how has this happened? What motivated young religious Zionists to attack IDF officers with stones? Why are they breaking the law?
But alas, in their wall-to-wall coverage of the protests, the media asked none of these questions. Rather, the media mischaracterized the riots as a "dog bites man" story and set about using the unlawful actions of these young hooligans as a means of criminalizing the entire national religious community.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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