A former hilltop youth leader filed a criminal complaint against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Wednesday after he labeled the group of far-right youngsters who move to West Bank outposts “disturbed idiots.”
Elyashuv Har Shalom told The Times of Israel that he wasn’t truly expecting any legal action to come from his petition with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. But the 28-year-old said he wanted to “send a message that this is not how an elected official is supposed to behave,” and called on the defense minister to apologize.
Liberman had been commenting Tuesday on a recent uptick in administrative orders issued against the hilltop youth banning them from the West Bank without due process. The orders were issued after a number of the group were accused of carrying out attacks against neighboring Palestinian villages.
“Some of them are absolute anarchists and disturbed idiots,” the defense minister said. “When a family or a Palestinian child is burned… it delegitimizes the entire settlement enterprise,” he added, referencing a 2015 terror attack attributed to Jewish extremists where an an 18-month-old baby and his parents were burned to death in the Palestinian village of Duma.
But the spike in administrative orders has raised questions of whether the often troubled youth, who in many cases leave their parents’ homes in their early-to-mid-teenage years, fall more under the jurisdiction of the defense or social welfare ministries.
In the complaint, Har Shalom referred to the hilltop youth as a “diverse community of youngsters who settle the land and work in construction and agriculture.”
Har Shalom, who now works as a guidance counselor for the group, went on to refer to them in the letter as “salt of the earth.”
Such “shallow and impulsive” language by the defense minister “raises a real contradiction in the educational demand to show respect for public figures,” Har Shalom wrote.
Har Shalom said Liberman’s remarks were indicative of the problem with how hilltop youth are dealt with today. “Administrative orders, which used to be saved for terrorists, are now handed out like gum by this government,” he said.
While stopping shot of a full blown justification for the far-right group, Har Shalom insisted that the hate-crime attacks against Palestinians were a response to the government’s failed response to terror. “The persecution of the hilltop youth is making things worse,” he said.
Har Shalom said that the illegal outposts that the hilltop youth have been establishing in the Yitzhar settlement and elsewhere in the West Bank were “barely structures” and did not warrant what he said was the harsh response by Israeli authorities.