What, exactly, is more disturbing about this Haim Pearlman case? The existence and flourishing of Jewish terrorists in our midst, bent on violent means of achieving political ends, or the Shin Bet's alleged hiring of Pearlman as a hitman? The fact that Jewish terrorists exist in Israel or that they are not pursued with equal vigor as their Arab counterparts despite the immoral equivalence of their actions?
Pearlman, a long-time Kachnik, has been implicated in numerous violent acts in the past two decades. He currently stands accused of seven murders in the past thirteen years, according to Yediot Acharonot. The only thing more disturbing than the psychopathic violent streak he is accused of exhibiting is the quite overt radical religious ideology that spawned the vehement hatred and hell-bent vengeance that drove him to assault and murder Arabs.
Whether or not he is convicted, this should be a wake up call for Israelis. As Amir Oren put it in this week's Haaretz, "there are Jewish terrorists. They are no different from other terrorists in terms of the danger they present, except....they are part of the society against which they are plotting"and therefore constitute a less obvious threat. Pearlman is not the first (far from it), and he undoubtedly will not be the last. Unfortunately, between headline-grabbing incidents involving Baruch Goldsteins, Yigal Amirs, Eden Natan Zadas (remember him?), Yaakov Teitels, and Haim Pearlmans, Israelis tend to forget about violent radicals among them and often see Jewish terrorists as isolated cases; as independent actors rather than a broader trend in a greater drama. The ideology that binds them together, combined with individual psychoses, produces bloody results.
As for the Shin Bet, they allegedly took Pearlman on as a hitman for the assassination of, among others, Sheik Ra'ad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel. They claim that they had no knowledge of Pearlman's involvement in the murders, and that charges that they employed Pearlman are erroneous.
If Pearlman is found guilty, it says little about the efficacy of the Israeli FBI for anything besides cracking down on the Arab population. As reported in Haaretz, "the Shin Bet's Jewish Division has found it difficult to track violent individuals within extreme right-wing circles". If the Shin Bet also hired Pearlman as a thug, one has to wonder whether the Jewish Division's priorities lie in sponsoring or catching Jewish terrorists. Either way, this whole incident casts a grim shadow on Israel's domestic security establishment and its priorities.