In letter to Biden, Israeli MKs demand explanation of claims against ‘settlers’

“Battling violence is an objective that we share—but our efforts must not stray from the facts and the truth,” the lawmakers write.

By Ariel Kahana | | Topics: America, Jewish Settlers
US President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
US President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Twenty-three Israeli Knesset members wrote to US President Joe Biden on Sunday, demanding an explanation of his administration’s recent statements accusing settlers of violent acts against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

“First and foremost, We would like to express our gratitude, on behalf of the People of Israel, for your staunch support of the State of Israel and for your unflinching stance in these difficult times,” the letter states.

“As members of Israel’s Knesset and the Knesset Caucus to Combat Antisemitism and Delegitimization, we, like you, denounce violence against innocent civilians. We are turning to you today regarding a number of statements you made recently pertaining to a ‘phenomenon’ you have called upon our government to address, namely violence perpetrated by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria against Palestinian Arabs,” it continues.

The letter was initiated by the chairman of the lobby, MK Ariel Kallner,  (Likud) after an exclusive Israel Hayom report debunked claims of an uptick in settler violence, showing that instead there has been a 50% drop in recent months compared to the equivalent period in 2022.

“The data at our disposal indicates that the scope of these incidents is limited to a very small number of isolated events, which pales in contrast with the vastly larger scope of violent incidents perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs against the residents of these same Jewish communities,” the MKs write. “In fact, the quantity and quality of violent incidents emanating from the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria is not only minuscule in comparison to Palestinian violence but is also similarly dwarfed when compared to the rate of violent crime in any other community or society,” the letter continues.

Kallner told Israel Hayom that “‘settler violence’ is a modern blood libel that is nurtured and carried out by delegitimizing organizations like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, with foreign state funding amounting to millions.” He added that “we all condemn violence, but here we are talking about a combination of blatant lies, data manipulation and false accusations from nothing, all for the purpose of smearing the settler public in order to pave the way for a Palestinian state, as has already been exposed in documents from the New Israel Fund.”

He lamented what he said was a disproportionate focus on settlers that all but ignores the innate Jew hatred across Palestinian society: “This blood libel needs to be cut off at the root. The Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria have for years been subject to violent attacks by an Arab society that largely also supports the Oct. 7 events,” he said. “In addition, these pioneers are today also on the front lines of the Gaza war and even in the north, which is sadly also reflected in the high number of KIAs… from Judea and Samaria communities.

“At this time, we must stand by these residents and not allow delegitimizing entities that also make false accusations against IDF soldiers to defame them. We would welcome a response from the US president and hope that the data on which he relied will be scrutinized thoroughly.”

The letter also asks that the administration make more responsible statements, based on the actual figures, while noting that Israel should be allowed to view the information on which the United States made the accusations.

“Battling violence is an objective that we share—but our efforts must not stray from the facts and the truth. With this in mind, and to be more efficient partners in the battle against violence and vigilantism, we hope that you will kindly share your source material with us,” the letter concludes.

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