Israel’s Knesset held a special session to debate the attack on a left-wing professor.
“There are violent forces operating in Israeli society that take the law into their own hands and would not hesitate to murder or try to murder whoever stands in their way,” said Israeli Labor Party lawmaker Ophir Paz-Pines, Knesset House Committee chairman, during the special session to discuss last week’s pipe-bomb attack on Professor Ze’ev Sternhell.
Sternhell was lightly injured in the attack.
Paz-Pines added, “We have to take very firm action. These are terrorists — Jewish, but terrorists just the same.”
Sternhell testified at the committee debate.
“A crime is a crime and we must deal with criminals as we deal with criminals anywhere. These criminals must be caught and tried,” Sternhell said. “I am not making complaints against the IDF or the police, but they cannot operate if there is no political will and determination on the part of the government and its leaders.”
Lawmaker David Rotem of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party condemned the attack but decried the attention the case is getting, calling it “the Sternhell festival,” to the horror of other members of the committee.
“For days now, people have been casting aspersions on the settler population saying that it was guilty, but does anybody know who did it?” he asked. Investigators have not arrested anyone in the attack, though leaflets offering a reward for the murder of left-wing activists were found near the Sternhell’s Jerusalem home.
More than 200 people attended a demonstration Thursday evening organized by the New Israel Fund outside Sternhell’s Jerusalem home to protest the assassination attempt against him. The demonstrators included concerned citizens from an array of organizations, including civil rights and feminist groups ranging from the Reform to Orthodox religious movements.
“There is nothing more wretched than political violence,” New Israel Fund President Naomi Chazan told the crowd. “Violence is unacceptable in a democratic society, especially a society like Israel with such deep differences of opinion. If violence becomes the norm, then we are completely lost.”
Sternhell told the demonstrators, “The press and police are complaining about growing violence. We knew this violence would eventually be directed against us. But we want to put an end to all types of violence in Israeli society.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.