When The Price Tag Is Too High

"On Monday, Settlers burned olive trees, stoned Palestinian vehicles, blocked West Bank roads and allegedly assaulted Palestinians in direct response to the Civil Administration's destruction of scattered structures in three outposts earlier in the day." Jerusalem Post, 21st July, 2009.

I would not believe it, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

In December 2008, I was entrenched at Bet Hashalom, Hebron – I was one of a handful of adults together with several hundred youngsters. I visited several times over the space of a few days, and stayed overnight also. I knew a lot of the kids – and I can vouch that they are from "the best families". They are ideological, G-d fearing and are fervently protective of Eretz Yisrael. I have no doubt that future heads of state, army generals and Nobel prize winners were amongst those kids.

I am in awe of how these kids establish new camps, then whole communities - on dusty, barren hilltops - and their incredible mesirat nefesh - physical hardships - they willingly endure to perform the mitzva of yishuv ha'aretz - resettling our Land.

I had decided to take on "observer status". I would watch and listen, but planned to avoid getting directly involved or interfering. This was the kids' show – not the adults'.

My first shock was when I visited to roof of Beit Shalom, and saw Jewish teenagers wrapping their heads in scarves, and throwing rocks at Arabs on the street below. I broke my rule, and explained to the kids that these stones, thrown from this height, would likely kill somebody. They stopped for a few minutes, but then carried on.

It was actually a regular event – the kids threw large rocks at local Arabs, and also at our own soldiers. Jewish kids torched groves and cars. And Arab kids also threw rocks

A classmate and friend of my son was hit by a rock directly on his head, and was hospitalized in critical condition. (B"H miraculously he has now recovered).

I also saw dozens of Jewish kids storming the valley at night between Beit Hashalom and Kireat Arba, smashing windows and destroying property of the Arab homes in the valley. I thought of how it must have felt to be a family sitting inside those homes, under siege.

These are kids who normally make us proud.

But now I was ashamed. It was ugly.

What I witnessed was the tactic of Tag Machir – the Price Tag .

Devastated by the failure of the campaign to stop the diabolical "Disengagement Plan" – the forced evacuation of 9000 residents of Gush Katif in 2005 – these kids were seeking an alternative to the largely passive resistance by the Orange public.

The kids, referred to as Noar HaGavaot (Hilltop Youth) embarked on a more militant, more aggressive policy they called "Tag Mechir"; that for every act by the authorities against the settlement movement, a heavy "price tag" would be extracted. Whether that price was "paid" by the representatives of the Government, or by uninvolved Arabs.

The aggressive resistance by these kids to the destruction by the Government of nine houses in Amona in January 2006, was arguably more effective than the whole Gush Katif campaign. Indeed, such was the Government's regret at the pitched battles at Amona, that Amona was the only major evacuation attempted by the Government, between the evacuations of Gush Katif (August 2005) and Beit Shalom (December 2008).

My problem with tag mechir is not regarding its effectiveness (although the houses in Amona did get demolished, and Bet Hashalom was evacuated, in spite of Tag Mechir) – but I object on ethical grounds.

The problem with absolute causes, be they "Eretz Yisrael", "the sanctity of the Shabbath", "Sanctification of G-d's Name", "King and Country", or whatever, is that an Absolute Cause can demand an Absolute Price. The expression "bechol mechir" – "At Any Price" - gets bandied around as a truism.

But this is not the case. There is a price which is too high to pay, even for a cause which might be described as "absolute".

In the case of Tag Mechir – getting down-and-dirty, attacking our soldiers and third parties (uninvolved Arabs), and wantonly destroying property and terrifying private families – is too high a price tag, even for Eretz Yisrael.


  1. David; IMHO, you need to suggest alternative tactics to those undertaken by "Hilltop youth."

    Better yet, what needs to be said is that the aggressive nature of these youths' responses may well be a consequence of a collective complacency by most dati-leumim adults as well as the vast majority of Hareidim (with the noticeable exception of 1 such Kehilla where even the Rav took part at Kfar Maimon) who, unlike you and your great kids, see their own personal welfare, job security, etc. as overriding possessing and maintaining possession of Jewish land. Until the masses feel compelled to rise up, as was done in the Ukraine or as is happening as a result of a bogus, rigged "election" in Iran, to shut down the country and de-construct corrupt governance, institutions and media by more acceptable means, there will be those who cover their faces and throw stones in light of the weakness, the meekness of the religious masses.

  2. I agree, David, the price is just too high! Additionally, this aggressive resistance contributes to weakening our nation's commitment to its central government, and thus defeats its own purpose, which is supposed to be making it possible to actually retain Israeli government control over those places! We must win the struggle for Eretz Yisrael TOGETHER with all of Am Yisrael, or else it will be Pyrrhic, self-defeating, victory.

  3. Very appropriate message for these times, approaching 9 Av. Remember Aba Sikra and the Biryonim? They were supposedly on "our side", the most fanatically pro-Eretz-Yisrael group there was, would not give one inch to the invading Romans. And who ultimately were the primary cause of the churban.

  4. These Tag Machir people are chillul Hashem trash. They are bad for Israel and the Jewish people. To be honest, I'm even ashamed that I breathe the same air that these Tag Machir degenerates breathe.


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