Hitchens attacks the Israeli settlers:

The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein's rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Once considered highly extreme, such biblical exegeses are moving ever closer to the mainstream. It's high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people's land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.

In our rightful focus on Islamist extremism, we have failed to observe the rise of Jewish religious fundamentalism and the threat it poses to any stable Middle East. The fusion of fundamentalism and politics is poisonous everywhere - in America, the Arab and Persian worlds, and, of course, among Israelis.  A very disturbing piece about the influence of fundamentalism in the IDF - and its enabling of abuses and crimes - appeared last weekend. The LA Times has a similar piece today. Money quote:

"This rabbi comes to us and says the fight is between the children of light and the children of darkness," a reserve sergeant said, recalling a training camp encounter. "His message was clear: 'This is a war against an entire people, not against specific terrorists.' The whole thing was turned into something very religious and messianic."

We see the same thing here with Christianists trying to control the military (and often succeeding). But I agree with Hitch: any move by Netanyahu or Lieberman to extend the settlements requires a swift and clear cut-off of aid that could finance settler activity. Enough is enough.

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