Letters From Tel Mond Prison: An Israeli Settler Defends His Act of Terror

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Letters From Tel Mond Prison: An Israeli Settler Defends His Act of Terror

By Era Rapaport
Free Press, 1996
280 pp. $23.00
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Though he seemingly hopes to evoke Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" with the title of this grimly compelling apologia, Rapaport, a West Bank settler and erstwhile social worker from Brooklyn, was jailed for his involvement in the "mayors' plot," the 1980 bomb attacks on three PLO-linked West Bank mayors in which Rapaport helped cripple Mayor Bassam Shaka of Nablus. A fundamentalist follower of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, one of the spiritual fathers of the Israeli settler movement, Rapaport believes he is on a Biblical mission to reclaim the land of Israel and, like many of the settlers, remains openly contemptuous of the peace process. The rise of the Machteret -- the Jewish terrorist underground with which Rapaport was involved -- marked a critical early phase of an escalating and ongoing campaign of violence from Israel's radical right. Rapaport still finds it harder to empathize with his Palestinian neighbors than with Baruch Goldstein or Yigal Amir. The book is a timely reminder that containment of Israel's militants must be an integral part of the peace process. Alas, Israeli civil society has yet to comprehensively place such behavior beyond the pale: Rapaport is still mayor of the West Bank settlement of Shilo.