ISRAEL: Professor wounded in Jerusalem bomb attack


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At 1 a.m., Zeev Sternhell went out to the lock his garden gate when a pipe bomb exploded, causing him minor injuries. An unknown organization claimed responsibility and leaflets were found in the area calling for the establishment of ‘the Judean Kingdom’ and a halachic state (based on Jewish, not secular law) in Judea and Samaria. The leaflets also offered a 1.1 million NIS reward (about $333,600) for killing a member of the left-wing organization Peace Now.

Hebrew University Professor Emeritus Sternhell, 73, was granted last year’s Israel Award for political science. The judges described his work as innovative, impacting the field’s approach to ideological movements, in particular radical movements. A very outspoken critic of Israel’s policies involving the settlements and treatment of the Palestinians, the judges wrote that Sternhell’s criticism is ‘said out of a deep commitment to the country and society in Israel.’


Many disagree.

Zeev Sternhell describes himself a not only a Zionist but a super-Zionist, and sees Israel’s policies in the territories as a tragedy that genuinely endangers the nation’s future. Nationalism that doesn’t respect the national rights of others is a dangerous nationalism, he had said in an interview earlier this year, and warned that if Israel didn’t ‘muster up sufficient mental fortitude to evacuate part of what exists across the Green Line, we will be in a dead end’ and forced to chose between full colonialism and binationalism, both of which he regards as the end of Zionism.

Right-wing circles had widely protested the decision to award him the prestigious national award,
saying he advocated use of force, even terror against Jewish settlers in the West Bank and supported a civil war. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel had petitioned the Supreme Court against the decision and thousands of people signed their petition calling it a ‘disgrace’ to award a man who openly incited violence against Israeli citizens living in the settlements. The court had ruled that denying an award on the basis of political views undermines the freedom of expression.

Politicians, academics and public figures were appalled and outraged by the attack. Don’t talk to us about ‘bad weeds,’ said left-wing circles on Thursday, warning this not an isolated act but an escalation of recent violence. Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said law enforcement authorities have to abandon their lenient policy toward law-breakers within the settler community and their supporters before we see another political murder in Israel.

Police have advised Oppenheimer that there are threats against his life too, and have posted
security around his house.

A committee representing Samaria settlers issued a statement rejecting the attribution of the attack to West Bank settlers, calling it an escalation of the ‘hate-mongering of the extreme left.’

— Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

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