The fact that 30 attackers could break into an IDF base in a military zone in Palestinian areas without the IDF having any prior intelligence, vandalize the base, damage IDF equipment, knock a few soldiers around, and walk out scot free, as if they had just won a battle, is not a scandal. That's already happened before.  Two attackers were arrested in the Epfraim Brigade attack. Only two. And one of them 'escaped.' That's the scandal.

The fact that Jewish attackers can ambush an IDF vehicle carrying a Brigade Commander and a Deputy Brigade Commander, open the vehicle door, and throw a concrete block at the Deputy Commander's head, is not a scandal. That's also happened before. What's a scandal is that these Israel Defense Forces officers didn't put a bullet between the eyes of the man who dared to open the door of their armored car.   

What's a scandal is that the soldiers at the Efraim Brigade didn't defend their base from infiltration by enemy elements. They were not vigilant and they were overrun, assaulted and humiliated. What goes through the mind of a young Israeli soldier serving in the West Bank when confronted by a Jewish attacker?

The incident goes much deeper than that: it shows that Israeli soldiers serving in the West Bank are not in the mindset to confront other Israelis in the West Bank - especially aggressive, lawless, cunning, hilltop youth. It means that, for years, these hilltop youth have carried out attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and the army didn't stop them - so they grew bolder, and they are not afraid of the IDF. But the IDF is afraid of them: the dark cloud of an Israeli civil war always hangs over us. The government has let this go on for too long, and now it faces a mammoth task of facing down thousands of hard-core Jewish extremists and their spiritual and ideological leadership.

As Amos Oz once said: 

<blockquote>"The Jewish people has a great talent for self-destruction. We may be the world champions in self-destruction... [caused by] our characteristic demand for perfection, for totality, for squeezing our ideal to its last dregs or to die trying. [Look at] the history of the ancient Hebrews – they were suicidal by being extremely extremist and fanatical, by not compromising with reality."</blockquote>

So this is how things stand now:

The tax-paying, army-serving, law-abiding secular and national religious middle class is stuck in the middle between two groups of extremist populations:

In the left corner: a group of hundreds of extremist rabbis leading a population of one million ultra-Orthodox men, women and children who do not work, do not serve in the army, and have no intention of changing any of that; do not identify with the State, but live off its welfare; and who have one of the highest birthrates in the world. In less than 50 years from now, all things staying equal, this population will constitute 30% of the country's overall population, and less than 0.001% of the workforce. Significant parts of this population are becoming more extreme, and the extremism is spreading across the country. The number of gender-segregated buses in Israel is increasing; zealots spill over from their neighborhoods into non-haredi neighborhoods and hurl soiled diapers at modest national-religious girls, calling them whores. None of these stalkers has been arrested. Their version of reality is completely, utterly different from that of the majority of Israelis.

In the far-right corner: thousands of extremist, religious, settler youth and their charismatic rabbis, who do very little work, whose religious study institutions are funded by the state, who attack and undermine the army, attack the Palestinians, and try their darndest to start a religious war between the Jews and the world's Muslims by burning mosques in the middle of the Arab Spring/ Islamic Winter. They care not for the rulings of the Supreme Court. Some of them serve in the army, but they do not submit to the authority of the state, and the state is fearful of imposing its authority on them. They don't listen to their commanders. The leak army plans to their friends. They don't listen to the settler leadership. They listen only to their rabbis, and their rabbis, God only knows who they listen to. Their version of reality is completely, utterly different from that of the majority of Israelis. The settler community, who is the first victim of these radical extremist rabbis and hilltop youth, must cough these criminals out.

There are two things these groups have in common with each other: they are both led by extremist, insular rabbis who answer to no higher authority but their own; and they both call representatives of the government and its security services "Nazis".

The only thing that these two groups have in common with the majority of the country is that they too will be put to the sword by Israel's enemies, should an Israeli civil war damage the country's defenses to such an extent that we are overrun.

And in the middle between these two groups of zealots: the apathetic, silent majority, who, sadly, has no charismatic and effective leadership. Leaders who can stand up to the religious zealots. 

As always, it comes down to leadership. They have bad leaders. We have none.

This fire will consume us all if we don't put it out now.