Jewish Settler Violence: Deviance as Social Reaction

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Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989 - Social Science - 164 pages

Between 1949 and 1967 few Israelis had questioned the boundaries established during Israel's war for independence. Zionist and religious ideologies that advocated Jewish control over all the "Land of Israel"—the areas of Jewish settlement in biblical times—lay dormant. The 1967 victory, which brought the bulk of these territories under Israeli control, rekindled traditional sentiments for the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in all these territories. These sentiments became a powerful political force within Israel and provide a growing potential for violence. This book examines those Israelis who have become most identified with this violence. Its focus is upon the development of vigilantism and political deviance in the Gush Emunim settlements.

This book examines the similarities between deviant behavior and society's reactions to deviance. It examines the deviance of Jewish settlers who themselves advocate or participate in law-violating actions. It describes and explains the social organization of deviant social controls. Rather than centering our view of the normative process in the general society, it focuses upon Jewish settlers who evade and resist the rules and laws of that society in the name of "higher" laws.

A detailed examination of settler rationalizations of vigilante violence against Arabs provides an unusual glimpse of community support for law violations in these areas. Unique quantitative data allow for the first major multivariate analysis of vigilante attitudes and behaviors.

Jewish Settler Violence provides an innovative and thought-provoking approach to violence that is rationalized and legitimized with reference to norms and values. It illustrates the importance of broadening concerns with crime and deviance to include "altruistic" law violations that have more in common with the complex decision-making processes of societal reactions than the routine character of most deviant behavior. It also provides a set of sobering implications for the future of Jewish settler violence. This research suggests that vigilantism and antigovernment violence will increase at the same time that the Israeli government will find it increasingly difficulty to respond to and control settler deviance.

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About the author (1989)

David Weisburd teaches at the Graduate School of Criminal Justice of Rutgers University.

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