Meir Ettinger started his career in anti-Arab activism in relatively modest and unexceptional fashion. The young man now being designated as the number one Jewish terrorism suspect of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency would, as a 20-year-old in 2011, go into the shops and stalls of Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market. He would ask the storekeepers if they employed Arabs and if the answer was “yes”, he would place an “x” next to the store’s name in his notebook. It was a marker for a boycott by fellow Arab haters.
Now Mr Ettinger has become the first far right activist arrested after last Friday’s attack by Jewish extremists in the West Bank, in which an 18-month-old Palestinian boy was burned alive and his parents and brother were severely wounded. The Shin Bet is not saying whether he has been linked to last week’s attack, only that he was taken into custody for “involvement and activity in a Jewish extremist organisation”.
Whether he is innocent or guilty of being involved in the Duma attack, Mr Ettinger has become the face of a violent extremism that many Israelis fear is spinning out of control and beginning to threaten the fabric of their society.
Recent years have seen a spate of hate assaults on Palestinian persons and property and mosques and churches.