Opinion

‘Settler violence’ is an anti-Zionist propaganda phrase

It’s part of an effort by the left to undermine Israel’s legitimacy in Judea and Samaria.

The city of Ariel in Samaria, July 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
The city of Ariel in Samaria, July 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Moshe Dann

The Israeli left is reviving its propaganda campaign against “the settlers,” Jews who live in Judea and Samaria. Using powerful, emotionally charged accusations of “Jewish terrorism” and “settler violence,” left-wing politicians and officers in the “Jewish department” of the Shin Bet seek to turn public opinion against Jews residing over the “Green Line” (the 1949 Armistice line).

Using a psycho-linguistic trick, these people equate “settlers” with “violence.” It’s easy and it works.

They never talk about Arab violence or provocations that lead to confrontations. Only Jews are blamed.

“Jewish terrorism” was a term used by the Shin Bet to describe an attack on a car that led to the death of an Arab woman passenger. The Shin Bet arrested several Jewish teenagers who “confessed” under duress and intimidation. But their confessions were rejected by the court.

After months of investigations, a 16-year-old boy was charged with throwing the stone that hit the car. The Shin Bet claims that his DNA was found on the stone. Forensic experts question how that’s possible, however, given that the stone was in the possession of the Shin Bet for many months, and “touch DNA” lasts for only one or two weeks.

Recently, a young man was assaulted on Shabbat by a group of Arabs near the settlement of Adei Ad, near Shilo. He was rescued by a first-response security team, but during the confrontation, a 38-year-old resident of a nearby Arab village was killed. A U.N. representative and most of the media blamed Jews for “settler violence” in this case, despite the fact that Arabs had initiated the attack and the Jews had acted in self-defense. When an Israel Defense Forces unit finally arrived, it was also attacked by an Arab mob and hostilities continued for several days.

The response of the left is to shift attention from Arab terrorism and violence to Israeli settlements and the people who live there, especially the “hilltop youth.” Not only are settlements portrayed as “illegal” and a “threat to Israeli democracy,” but Jews who defend themselves when attacked by Arab mobs and terrorists are blamed; their self-defense is called a “provocation.”

A recent example of this is the order by the IDF commander in Judea and Samaria Brig. Gen. Eran Niv that soldiers accused of using “excessive force” in dealing with violent Arabs be severely punished. Who decides, however, what is “excessive,” especially during violent confrontations? Fear of a court-martial is the last thing that soldiers who risk their life should worry about when facing danger.

This propaganda campaign is part of an effort by the left, including elements of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Civil Administration and the State Attorney’s Office, backed by the High Court of Justice, to undermine Israel’s legitimacy in Judea and Samaria by declaring that Israel is guilty of “stealing private Palestinian land.”

Using Jordanian law and prohibiting any examination of documents, these institutions have led to the destruction of Jewish communities, neighborhoods and homes. According to Israeli law, which governs the military occupation in Judea and Samaria, there is no way to appeal these arbitrary decisions.

Israelis are divided about settlements, but according to polls, most support them, and few (except for the extreme left-wing and Arab parties) support further evacuations of Jews and giving more territory to the Palestinian Authority.

Such differences are acceptable in a democracy. What is not acceptable is when agencies of the government, especially those that are part of the security network and some in the judicial system, participate in the left’s anti-settlement agenda.

Accusing Israeli Jews who live in Judea and Samaria of “terrorism” and “violence” for political reasons undermines the state, the Zionist ethos and faith in the judicial system. Legal advisers and security officials with political agendas have no right to impose their bias on others.

Abusing children in order to obtain confessions is simply not acceptable. Condemning the right of Jews to defend themselves violates human and legal rights and the basis upon which the state was established.

What about Arab arsonists who set Israel’s forests on fire every summer? What about Arabs and Bedouin who steal land in the Galilee and the Negev, and then claim it as their own?

Why does the Israeli government permit widespread illegal Arab and Bedouin construction and then legitimize it? What about agricultural theft and car theft? Why are Jews condemned for protecting their homes, property and communities?

Yishuv Ha’aretz (settling the land) is a Torah commandment. Pre-state Jewish communities in Palestine were called “the Yishuv.” Until the Six-Day War in 1967, Jewish settlements were called yishuvim. Since then, Israeli leftists have dubbed them “settlements” and their residents “settlers,” which are used as words of contempt and scorn.

“Settler violence” is a euphemism for attacking Zionism, the existence of a Jewish state, homeland and sovereignty in the land of Israel. We Jewish Israelis are all “settlers.” That’s what being an Israeli and a Zionist means. We should be proud of it.

Moshe Dann, Ph.D., is a historian, writer and journalist living in Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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