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Netanyahu eulogizes settler movement founder convicted of manslaughter

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Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a hero of the settler movement and co-founder of its fundamentalist Gush Emunim group, who established Jewish communities in Hebron and throughout the West Bank, conducted armed takeovers of Palestinian homes, and was convicted of manslaughter, died on Saturday in the settlement of Hebron where he lived. Levinger was 80.

After his passing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Levinger’s revitalization of the Jewish settlement of Hebron, one of the earliest outposts built in the occupied Palestinian territory after the June 1967 war. Posing as Swiss tourists, on the eve of Passover in April 1968 Levinger led 60-80 Israelis to a hotel in the Palestinian city. They brought with them suitcases, a refrigerator and a washing machine. Although the Israeli army issued eviction notices, Levinger’s group never left. Today Hebron is considered a stronghold for Israel’s right-wing settlers and supports a population of around 700.

“Rabbi Levinger’s name will be forever linked with the movement for renewed Jewish settlement in Hebron and other areas of the country where our patriarchs walked thousands of years ago. He was an outstanding example of a generation that sought to realize the Zionist dream, in deed and in spirit, after the Six Day War,” Netanyahu wrote in the letter to the Levinger family.

On Sunday Israeli President Reuven Rivlin traveled to Hebron to give an official eulogy to thousands of mourners. He said while Levinger was not a “man of consensus,” his ability to work across partisan divides to build the settlement movement made him one of Israel’s “most treasured sons.”

“Not for nothing the first donor to the Hebron Yeshiva, under your leadership, Rabbi Levinger, was David Ben-Gurion [Israel’s first Prime Minister], who donated 100 Israeli Lira (the old Israeli currency). Not for nothing were you very active with Yigal Alon, and members of the ‘Greater Land of Israel’ movement, who were mainly from the Labor movement, in rebuilding the Jewish community once again, here in Kiryat Arba, in Hebron,” Rivlin said.

President Reuven Rivlin stands over rabbi Moshe Levinger during his Hebron funeral, Sunday May 17, 2015. (Photo: Photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin stands over rabbi Moshe Levinger during his Hebron funeral, Sunday May 17, 2015. (Photo: Photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)

Taking to Facebook, Likud’s Miri Regev, the new minister of culture and sports wrote, “Rabbi Moshe Levinger carried the banner for the revival of the Jewish settlement in the city of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and he was a trailblazer and a symbol for the Jewish settlement in Hebron and the West Bank.”

Born in Jerusalem, Levinger was a student of the father of modern religious Zionism, Zvi Yehuda Kook. The two made popular the “greater Israel movement” through Levinger’s group Gush Emunim, presiding over it during the decades the militant Jewish Underground was active. They believed a mass exodus of Israelis over the Green would further the cause of annexation. David Remnick dubbed the pair, “armed prophets and politicians” in the pages of The New Yorker.

During the 1980s Levinger’s use of violence in building settlements caught the attention of the United Nations. In 1985 he went on a three-month armed vigilante patrol of a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem. The United Nations documented Levinger, “provoked the inhabitants of the camp by firing at them and invading their homes,” and, “reportedly ran along the camp alleys, together with a guard, and both men fired into the air in an indiscriminate manner.” That same year Levinger broke into a Palestinian house in Hebron and assaulted a six-year old. Like many of his arrests that decade, he was given a suspended sentence.

Later in 1988 Levinger was convicted for killing Kayed Sallah, 42, an unarmed Palestinian in Hebron. Levinger told the court he fired shots in self-defense against rock-throwers, but claimed the death was caused by the Israeli army. Palestinian and military witnesses both disputed this. Levinger was then released on “good behavior” after a short 92 days sentence, wire agencies reported. At the time he showed little remorse.

“If I’m in a situation of danger again, I’ll again open fire,” wire agencies reported Levinger said to Israel radio. “I hope that next time, I will be more careful and I won’t miss the target.”

Levinger continued to be arrested for acts of violence and provocation into the late 1990s.


Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

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39 Responses

  1. just
    just on May 19, 2015, 3:44 pm

    I waited to remark on this hideous murderer until he was safely in the ground. I wasn’t surprised to see him praised and eulogized by so many… it’s further evidence of a deep rot.

    Kate’s compilation yesterday included this bit of history:

    …”He was also a prominent leader of the settler movement known as Gush Emunim, a violent group dedicated to the expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Talmudic kingdom. Levinger openly praised the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre of 1994, Baruch Goldestein, calling him a great saint. When reminded that 29 innocent human beings were murdered by Goldestein said “I am sorry for the death of 29 flies as well.” Levinger said on several occasions that Palestinians ought to be given three choices, either enslavement by Jews as water carriers and wood cutters, or expulsion, or physical extermination.” – See more at:

    No surprise that Daniella Weiss sang his praises, too.

    “Daniella Weiss, former mayor of Kedumim in the West Bank and an activist in the settler movement, said, “The rabbi taught us not to leave a single piece of land without Jews. I met many people who tried to solve the riddle of the rabbi — whether he was a man of thought or a man of action. The answer is that he was both,” she said.”

    I am sure that all of the illegal “settlers”~ especially the really violent/virulent ones like Daniella and Anat Cohen~ in Hebron and everywhere else in the Occupied Palestinian lands are grateful to him.

    For more on Cohen, there’s this: “Go to Auschwitz!: Extremist settler confronts injured ISM volunteer in Hebron” – See more at:

    Thanks, Allison.

    • weiss
      weiss on May 20, 2015, 2:55 pm

      We will wait NO longer…

      Paying tribute to this warped maniac and “most treasured son” as Rivlin proudly states, epitomizes the depth of psychosis and systemic cultural racism in Israel.

      To willingly continue down this path is a prime symptom of Sociopathic behavior.

      A Sociopath commits despicable acts, while having absolutely zero remorse for his actions…

      Thank you for you hard work Allison!

  2. Marnie
    Marnie on May 20, 2015, 1:39 am

    “If I’m in a situation of danger again, I’ll again open fire,” wire agencies reported Levinger said to Israel radio. “I hope that next time, I will be more careful and I won’t miss the target.”

    A known murderer being praised by the Israeli president and prime minister. Did CNN or MSNBC happen to report on this (sarcasm)? This government is not holding back, hiding it’s true face or intentions. N’yahoo has drawn a line in the sand and is daring anyone to cross it. He has nuclear weapons at his disposal, thanks in part to the free pass from the United States. A monster, a “megalomanic” (from Dickerson) has hell to unleash if provoked. Could they reach the US? Is that the threat hanging over every US president for the past 40 years?

    • sklein1953
      sklein1953 on May 20, 2015, 8:10 am

      Levinger lived in a tough neighborhood.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye on May 20, 2015, 9:52 am

        Levinger installed himself in the neighborhood and made it a nightmare for all the original residents. The Hebron shtetlers are evil nutters.

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick on May 20, 2015, 10:12 am

        That’ll happen when you force your neighbors to walk on the “Arab” side of the street.

      • Marnie
        Marnie on May 20, 2015, 12:46 pm

        Are you out of your mind? That’s the same line N’Yahoo uses on American audiences when he’s trying to show how butch he is. Levinger was a murderous thug. Hell is welcoming him with open arms.

      • just
        just on May 20, 2015, 1:08 pm

        Thanks Bumblebye, abc, and Marnie.

        As for sklein, please read what this man has to say, although it’s still not harsh enough:

        “The man who called me “the grandfather of all impurity,” whose mouth let loose small salvos of saliva because he was so angry when I demanded that he stop reciting the Shmona Esrei (“18 benedictions” prayer) in the middle of the busy street in Hebron; the rabbi whose wife, Rabbanit Miriam, slapped the face of my colleague, the deputy governor; the man whose son, today the head of the Kiryat Arba Regional Council, passed water in the Tomb of the Patriarchs; the man who brought wine into a place that is as sacred to Muslims as it is to Jews; whose disciples poured raspberry juice on the head of the IDF’s Central Command when he tried to arrest their leader; who scorned the army because the doors of the defense minister and the prime minister were open to him, and when locked, broke through them with the sheer force of insistence – this man was not only a messianic idealist with sad eyes. He invented a method.

        With over 40 years of hindsight, it’s impossible not to salute the madness brought about by that slender person, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who passed away this week. Here’s another example of the Stockholm Syndrome.

        Levinger’s method was simple and effective: He removed the word “no” from the vocabulary. When all the military and political courts of law rejected his demand to retake Beit Hadassah in Hebron, he stood with his disciples at the entrance to the building, blocked the main road, began to recite the long Shmona Esrei – and when soldiers came to evacuate him he resisted forcefully.

        In that way, day after day, the residents of Hebron knew that they had better refrain from walking down the main street during the “Levinger show.” It succeeded. In the end the rabbi settled in the large building with his family and began planning his next objective.

        The Avraham Avinu neighborhood started out as “the site of the Avraham Avinu synagogue,” which Levinger demanded to have cleaned up. The cleanup developed into a larger rehabilitation project, after which the rabbi’s disciples took over the local wholesale market. When they arrived there en masse, on Rosh Hashanah, then-Defense Minister Shimon Peres kicked and screamed and demanded that the army remove them; afterward, as usual, he backed down, and an official permit also followed.

        The impressive Jewish neighborhood blocked entire streets and removed hundreds of families from their homes. And the army? It added Beit Hadassah and Avraham Avenue to its list of guard duties, and placed itself at “the rabbi’s” disposal.

        Levinger conquered the Tomb of the Patriarchs much earlier. Not much was left of the meticulous division of the prayer areas for Jews and Muslims. Room after room, corner after corner, “the rabbi’s” settlers seized the complex and magnificent building that has seen more than a few violent and murderous conflicts over the years.

        But Levinger did not only complete the conquest of Hebron. He brought about a revolution in the pyramid of authority in the territories. In his eyes the army was a sacred tool, and as such it must be commanded to be absolutely at the disposal of the rabbi and his settlers. He treated the military governors like clerks and the government ministers like his subordinates. He would decide whether and when to report to their summons, and suggested to soldiers that they disobey orders in order to be soldiers in the “army of God.”

        The Hebron model was successfully replicated in other settlements, whose establishment was also led by his disciples. And the IDF saw and internalized. The education Levinger gave it made it clear to the army that there was no point obeying feeble orders intended to stop the settlements and the settlers. Because after all, there was a government and there was Levinger, and it was preferable to obey those with real authority and power – and they weren’t the ones sitting in the government ministries. And what commander would want to make a laughingstock of himself, or worse, …….

        Levinger was not only the originator of a strategy, but also the inventor of the culture of clashes with the IDF. A culture that at least three generations grew up on, one that is still going strong. A culture that turned the IDF into an obedient and loyal army. An army of “Yes, honored rabbi.”

        That’s a legacy. That’s a leader.”

    • Qualtrough
      Qualtrough on May 20, 2015, 12:49 pm

      Marnie–you raise a good point. I do hope that somewhere in the Pentagon there is a plan to eliminate Israeli submarines and any land based nuclear ability Israel has the moment it becomes known that Israel might opt for its Samson option. To me this is a clear and present danger, far greater than any threat posed by ISIS, donkey riding Taliban, Assad, Iranian Mullahs, Hamas, or Hezbollah, etc.

      • SQ Debris
        SQ Debris on May 20, 2015, 8:26 pm

        Those subs are another piece of German mischief. That country really has a penchant for it. By supplying those nuke capable launch platforms they have put the whole world in the cross-hairs of a state that teaches kids in kindergarten that the entire world wants to kill them. And Israel has a right to defend itself …

  3. Accentitude
    Accentitude on May 20, 2015, 7:03 am

    Are we really shocked that Netanyahu is praising the life of a racist murderer much like he did when Baruch Goldstein and Ariel Sharon both died? I wouldn’t be surprised if he also mourned the death of Zionist nutbag #1 Meir Kahane. Honestly, are did anyone expect anything different from Netanyahu? Hopefully Moshe Levinger burns in eternal damnation, that would be fitting for a scumbag murderer who justifies his killings by claiming he was “chosen by God.”

    • Mooser
      Mooser on May 20, 2015, 3:47 pm

      “Hopefully Moshe Levinger burns in eternal damnation, that would be fitting for a scumbag murderer who justifies his killings by claiming he was “chosen by God.”

      Well, to be fair, there is no record of G-d issuing a denial.

  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick on May 20, 2015, 7:15 am

    The settlers are definitely in high cotton, as they say, but they have hit a little bit of a snag. Yesterday, with much fanfare, Yaalon announced that the government would go ahead and start its “study” about segregating Palestinian workers from settlers in the West Bank. There he and all the usual lunatics were hailing this triumph against the reckless eyeballing of Jewish women.

    And guess what, within hours Netanyahu rescinded the order.

    Now why would the Butcher do that? Probably because (as Richard Silverstein suggests) the timing is bad, can you spell FIFA?

    Yet another victory, albeit temporary, for BDS.

  5. eusebio
    eusebio on May 20, 2015, 9:14 am

    Peace and stability in Palestine and Israel

  6. tony greenstein
    tony greenstein on May 20, 2015, 10:28 am

    Zionism feels less and less need to pretend that it stands for peace, equality etc. as the logic of what a Jewish state and a colonial occupation come to the fore.

    Of course if Levinger had been an Arab then we would have heard he had ‘blood on his hands’ was an Arab Haman etc.

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad.

    • amigo
      amigo on May 20, 2015, 1:50 pm

      “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad.” TG

      Well he has achieved the latter part , so when will he get on with the former or just how mad do they have to be.,

  7. a blah chick
    a blah chick on May 20, 2015, 10:31 am

    You people have it all wrong! The settlements “protect” Palestinians! Where there are settlements there is peace and prosperity for the Little Arabs. Read the words of Ariel Kahana who wrote an article in Algemeiner last November if you don’t believe. Here’s just a sample:

    “With the loss of the settlements, so too was peace with the Arabs of Gaza lost. No, not a full peace, not a rosy-hued peace, not a platonic peace, but rather peaceful relations that allowed one to live a relatively quiet life, the heart’s desire of any sane person – and certainly if they live in the Middle East.”

    The Arabs in the West bank have it so much better.

    “Today, in Judea and Samaria, relative peace prevails. Settlements are helping tens of thousands of breadwinners, to the benefit of local Arabs and for mutual profit. (The Palestinian Authority withdrew its plans to stop Palestinians from working in settlements two years ago, after it realized how damaging and painful that would be.) Thousands of others, thanks to the Israeli presence, are allowed to work within Israel “proper.””

    If not for the civilized Jews and their underlings the natives’ animalistic natures would take over.

    “Thanks to the connection to Israel, the Palestinian Authority is the most democratic entity in the Arab world. The IDF presence prevents the rise of Hamas and guarantees a secure and relatively peaceful life for Arabs of Judea and Samaria.”

    Makes you wonder why they need those segregated bus lines, don’t it?

  8. amigo
    amigo on May 20, 2015, 11:09 am

    Nothing new about Israel honoring it,s terrorist heroes.

    “Israel Honors Jewish Terrorists
    Who Attacked US

    In 1954, Israeli agents working in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and left evidence behind implicating Arabs as the culprits. The ruse would have worked, had not one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to capture and identify one of the bombers, which in turn led to the round up of an Israeli spy ring.

    Some of the spies were from Israel, while others were recruited from the local Jewish population. Israel responded to the scandal with claims in the media that there was no spy ring, that it was all a hoax perpetrated by “anti-Semites”. But as the public trial progressed, it was evident that Israel had indeed been behind the bombing. Eventually, Israeli’s Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon was brought down by the scandal, although it appears that he was himself the victim of a frame-up by the real authors of the bombing project, code named “Operation Susannah.”

    It is therefore a fact that Israel has a prior history of setting off bombs with the intent to blame Arabs for them. – Reporters Notebook


    After half a century of reticence and recrimination, Israel on Wednesday honored nine Egyptian Jews recruited as agents-provocateur in what became one of the worst intelligence bungles in the country’s history.

    Israel was at war with Egypt when it hatched a plan in 1954 to ruin its rapprochement with the United States and Britain by firebombing sites frequented by foreigners in Cairo and Alexandria.

    But Israel hoped the attacks, which caused no casualties, would be blamed on local insurgents collapsed when the young Zionist bombers were caught and confessed at public trials. Two were hanged. The rest served jail terms and emigrated to Israel.

    Embarrassed before the West, the fledgling Jewish state long denied involvement. It kept mum even after its 1979 peace deal with Egypt, fearing memories of the debacle could sour ties.

    “Although it is still a sensitive situation, we decided now to express our respect for these heroes,” President Moshe Katzav said after presenting the three surviving members of the bomber ring with certificates of appreciation at a Jerusalem ceremony. ”

  9. RockyMissouri
    RockyMissouri on May 20, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Sad that he lived so long…while others had their young lives cut short by Israeli snipers.

    • annie
      annie on May 20, 2015, 12:26 pm

      sad he was ever born. so glad to be rid of this filth.

    • just
      just on May 20, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Yes, RockyMissouri and Annie.

      ( I thank my lucky stars that Ms. Annie is back!)

  10. shalom
    shalom on May 20, 2015, 4:52 pm

    I read it and understand how a founder of the Bloc of the Faithful would equal “filth” in the mind and heart of Annie Robbins. Nowhere in this hate filled remembrance is there a mention of a small event that preceded Rabbi Moshe Levinger’s return to Hebron by some 39 years. Maybe someone should have mentioned in passing that the Rabbi’s return to Hebron had something to do with the massacre that occurred on August 24, 1929 and the subsequent removal of the remaining Jewish population of Hebron by the British. No that doesn’t excuse the actions of Rabbi Levinger, but it does explain a great deal in a story in which three faiths hold the Cave of Macpeleh sacred.

    • Bumblebye
      Bumblebye on May 20, 2015, 8:04 pm

      Think you mean bloc of the deluded.
      People like you always forget to include that those targeted were as rabid as Levinger, that there had been considerable incitement and that *hundreds* of local Jews were protected from harm by their *Palestinian* neighbors!

      • Marnie
        Marnie on May 21, 2015, 1:06 am

        Thank you Bumblebye!

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on May 21, 2015, 12:36 am

      So that event had nothing to do with the Zionist invasion, eh?
      You got some nerve to call yourself Shalom, you know?
      What’s your beef with 1929? Armed invaders intending to dispossess the long-term inhabitants from land and sovereignty deserve nothing else if they refuse to leave. As for that Scottish cave, it’s not the invaders’ property either.
      All my sorrow at seeing some guy like this die in his bed. Hopefully his following lives to get judged and punished. In fact, judgment not strictly necessary.

    • Accentitude
      Accentitude on May 21, 2015, 8:22 am

      Ahh, I get it so he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and that completely excuses his being a raging xenophobic murderer. Are you also equally concerned with what Hitler went through in his childhood to shape his rise to genocidal maniac? No of course not. Brush off your bias, Shalom. Frankly, it’s insulting.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on May 21, 2015, 9:22 am

        That is Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

      • shalom
        shalom on May 21, 2015, 12:57 pm

        I’ll say again. If you are sanguine just putting your arms around a piece of a much larger story and making no room for anybody’s opinions but your own., then I guess there is little to be said. If life were only that easy, then we could simply make you and your friends judge, jury and executioner or more likely as has been done before you will simply anoint yourselves.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on May 21, 2015, 4:19 pm

        “then we could simply make you and your friends judge, jury and executioner or more likely as has been done before you will simply anoint yourselves.”

        And in the immortal and inspiring words of the Psalmist we chant (translation from Hebrew): “Oy Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I’ll eat some worms”.

      • RoHa
        RoHa on May 21, 2015, 7:44 pm

        “If you are sanguine …you will simply anoint yourselves. ”

        You are right. This is exactly what Israel supporters do. Very sad.

  11. Kay24
    Kay24 on May 20, 2015, 6:20 pm

    This is typical Netanyahu. He is praising the work of one of his front line terrorist, and openly acknowledging the “service” he has given to the zionist plan of getting rid of Arabs from the territories. This man was a scumbag, and the Israeli government approved of his crimes secretly.

  12. Boo
    Boo on May 20, 2015, 8:36 pm

    There’s no funeral like a Mob funeral.

    • Accentitude
      Accentitude on May 21, 2015, 8:25 am

      Well, if it was an Arab funeral, the IDF would have shown up and shot and killed a handful of people just to show them who still wears the big boy pants around here. These settler scumbags don’t know how good they have it, even in death.

  13. Mayhem
    Mayhem on May 21, 2015, 1:37 am

    Deger is keen to propagate falsehoods. Levinger was never convicted of manslaughter.
    He was charged with “manslaughter, causing bodily harm in aggravated circumstances and intentionally damaging property”. His trial began in August 1989, despite protests by 13 right-wing Knesset members and hundreds of supporters. Levinger pleaded not guilty to the charges but accepted a plea-bargain to the lesser charge of negligent homicide. He was sentenced to 5 months imprisonment and 7 months suspended, of which he served 92 days.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on May 21, 2015, 1:59 am

      “but accepted a plea-bargain to the lesser charge of negligent homicide. – See more at:

      Sweet, he was a saint then.

      A despicable human under either charge. Someone who could only aspire to the gutter

    • Marnie
      Marnie on May 21, 2015, 2:20 am

      Oh really now, he was never CONVICTED. Got it. Wow. In the words of the late Emily Litella – Never Mind. What a relief. Thanks Zio-Clean (from the makers of Bass-O-Matic and Colon Blow)!

    • Mooser
      Mooser on May 22, 2015, 8:14 pm

      “His trial began in August 1989, despite protests by 13 right-wing Knesset members and hundreds of supporters.”

      Ah, such respect for the judiciary they have in Israel.

  14. michelle
    michelle on May 21, 2015, 12:59 pm

    another person who was in a position of leadership
    when what he needed was medical treatment/attention
    who will his supporters find next
    G-d Bless

  15. Michael Lesher
    Michael Lesher on May 22, 2015, 3:39 pm

    Excellent journalism; important story. Let’s all remember it next time one of Israel’s apologists wails that a Palestinian fighter has been praised by this or that Palestinian politician for some bygone act of resistance.

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