A handful of Jews again have the international community in an uproar. Washington demands that Israel find, arrest and prosecute Jewish settlers who attacked property in an Palestinian Arab village over the weekend.
As usual, the entire affair is being presented by the mainstream media with little or no context, thus further painting the already-reviled Jewish settlers as heinous villains.
But their weekend rampage did not happen in a vacuum, and entire Jewish communities are already facing “collective punishment” at the hands of Israeli authorities for the actions of a few.
For a number of days Palestinian Arabs from the village of Umm Safa in the Binyamin Region north of Jerusalem have been descending on Road 465 and attacking Israeli vehicles. Several times they have completely blocked the road, which connects to Highway 60, effectively cutting off the Jewish communities of Ateret and Neve Tsuf (Halamish). They also repeatedly attacked Jewish cattle herders near Ateret.
A local security official said it was a miracle that no Jewish residents had been seriously wounded or killed.
These events, like the daily attacks Jews living in Samaria face, were almost completely ignored by the mainstream international media. Jewish residents of the biblical heartland have for months been calling for a major military operation against the terrorist infrastructure there, and many have said they now feel they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.
When Ateret and Neve Tsuf were again besieged over the weekend, Jews from neighboring communities organized and entered the area to defend their brothers.
Several dozen Jewish vigilantes entered Umm Safa and set fire to several cars and two houses in an effort to restore the deterrence they say the IDF has lost.
Israel Gantz, the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, said the entire affair could have been avoided had the IDF listened to his calls for the deployment of forces to the area in response to calls on Palestinian social media to come out to the highways and harm Jews.
“The army was not properly prepared and settlers arrived to help defend against the Arab rioters. Some of them acted in an improper manner,” he said.
Four of the Jewish rioters were arrested over the weekend, and a large IDF and Police force entered Ateret and put the entire community on lockdown as it hunted for the others. Many wondered why such severe action wasn’t taken against the Palestinian rioters in the first place.
“The security forces are working against these rioters, risking the lives of IDF soldiers, Israel Police officers and Shin Bet officers. This violence increases Palestinian terror, harms the State of Israel and the international legitimacy of the security forces to fight Palestinian terror, and diverts the security forces from their main mission against Palestinian terror,” read a statement signed by IDF chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.
But right-wing members of the governing coalition said the police reaction was “collective punishment” on the entire Jewish settler population in the area.
Video clips that went viral on Hebrew-language social media showed officers violently confronting the residents of Ateret as they blocked the exits of the settlement.
“Don’t make matters worse”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday called on Jewish settlers to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
“I call on everyone to refrain from actions that harm the settlement enterprise,” said Smotrich. “Even in this complex situation, taking the law into one’s own hands is bad, harmful and could lead to a loss of control and dangerous anarchy.”
However, he stressed that it was the job of the IDF and Police to make local Jews feel safe so they don’t find themselves in a situation in which self defense appears to be the only option left.
“The defense establishment must act with much greater determination in the face of terrorism and disturbances on the part of Arabs, as occurred over the last three days in the area of Ataret in Binyamin,” Smotrich stated. “It is not possible to accept a reality in which the settlers feel like ducks in a shooting gallery while driving on the roads around the settlements.”
Making a mountain out of a molehill, or rather focusing on the relative molehill while ignoring the mountain, the Biden administration was quick to publicly condemn the dozen or so aforementioned Jewish vigilantes.
On Friday, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi spoke with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan, who “expressed deep concern over the recent extremist settler attacks against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of their property in the West Bank,” according to a US government readout of the call.
Sullivan “reiterated the importance of holding accountable those responsible for such acts of violence.”
Again, this kind of public condemnation is almost never issued by Washington in responses to the daily acts of violence by Palestinians against Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Only when Jews are killed, does the West bother to say anything.
As an example, a two-year-old Jewish Israeli girl was wounded on Saturday night when Palestinians hurled stones at her parents’ vehicle on Highway 60 near the flashpoint town of Huwara. Did you hear about that in your local or mainstream national media? Probably not. Did the US government demand that the Palestinian Authority punish the perpetrators? Absolutely not. And such incidents occur regularly, sometimes multiple times a day.
By contrast, isolated acts of vandalism or property destruction on the part of Jews is enough to get the White House’s panties in a bunch, to use a crude turn of phrase.
It’s a clear double standard, and it plays right into the anti-Israel Palestinian narrative.
Palestinian PR win
Because the Israeli police crackdown and the American condemnation of events receive so much international press, while the daily Palestinian attacks on local Jews are hardly ever mentioned (unless someone dies), the net result is a major PR victory for the Palestinian cause.
Palestinian leaders are able to hold aloft this skewed portrayal as “evidence” that Jews simply hate Arabs on a racial basis, and thus that the presence of Jews in the biblical heartland is a threat to the international community’s plan to turn the area into a Palestinian state.
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