What did the Jewish terrorist’s neighbors know?

Nahum Barnea, the dean of Israeli columnists, offers the following on Yaacov Teitel, the American immigrant who was arrested for murdering at least two Palestinians and the attempted murder of several Israeli Jews, whom he chose because of their sexual orientation, political orientation or religious beliefs. It’s a translation from Yediot Aharonoth (source: Israel News Today):

..One must not pin responsibility for his actions on the entire sector of religious settlers or even partially so, nor should it be pinned on the residents of the settlement on which he lived, Shvut Rahel. That settlement, to the north of Ramallah, is not considered to be particularly extreme. Its residents most likely do not feel much sympathy for Professor Sternhell, Jews for Jesus, the gay community or their Palestinian neighbors, but they are decent people. They haven’t even a smidgen of intention to vent their opinions by means of terrorism.

That said, solitude is a relative concept in a small settlement such as Shvut Rahel. People know minute details about their neighbors. They share the pew at synagogue with them, meet in the aisle in the grocery store, give one another a lift into the city and see each other’s laundry hanging on the line. Anyone who suspects that I am exaggerating my description of the intimacy of life on a settlement is invited to read Tris [Shutter], a novel by Emily Amrusi, the former spokeswoman for the Settlers Council. The inspiration for that novel was life on Dolev, a settlement located not far from Shvut Rahel. It is difficult to keep a secret in a place like that, and certainly so over the course of years.

All the more so since Teitel did not act like a secret agent. He hung up posters on the street in public. He smuggled guns in his suitcase and shipment container. Those are the actions of a man who yearns for attention; those are the actions of a man who deep in his heart wants to be caught.

All of which brings us back to Teitel’s neighbors in Shvut Rahel. Did they really not know about his mysterious outings, about the large weapons cache, about some of his deeds? It is hard to believe so. They are all now certainly asking themselves now what they saw but preferred to ignore. They are all now certainly asking themselves now: had I known, would I have reported it to the police or the GSS? Would I have done something to stop the madness?

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