Home Daily Brief Globe & Mail Columnist Falsely Claims Israeli Settlers Are The Biggest Obstacle To Mideast Peace

Globe & Mail Columnist Falsely Claims Israeli Settlers Are The Biggest Obstacle To Mideast Peace

by Robert Walker

In a recent opinion column in The Globe and Mail entitled: “The horrific attacks in Huwara mark an acceleration of settler violence against Palestinians,” writer Raja Shehadeh accused Israeli settlers’ of an ongoing and increasingly violent campaign against Palestinians.

Shehadeh mentions a recent incident in which a group of Israelis attacked the Palestinian village of Huwara in apparent retaliation for the recent murder of two Israeli civilians in a terrorist attack by a Palestinian from Huwara. During the melee, one Palestinian was killed in the violence.

That the attack on Huwara, like the terrorist shooting that killed two Israeli brothers, is deplorable is not in dispute, but by claiming that there is an ongoing campaign of “Settler violence against Palestinians…since the early 1980s,” Shehadeh paints a very misleading picture.

Shehadeh fails to give appropriate context that the violence in Huwara was widely condemned in Israeli society. Figures such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog spoke out against the violence.

Additionally, an Israeli-led crowdfunding campaign raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Palestinian victims of the violence, attracting support from roughly 12,000 donors across Israel.

Furthermore, Israel arrested a number of suspects in connection with the violence, and police have said they expect that more will follow.

Contrast this reaction with events which followed a terrorist attack in January, when a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed seven innocents, six Israelis and a Ukrainian national, outside a Jerusalem synagogue. After the murders, large groups of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Judea & Samaria (“west bank”) publicly celebrated, handing out candies and pastries, dancing in the streets, and setting off fireworks.

Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for Hamas, lauded the attacks saying they demonstrated that “the resistance knows how to find the appropriate response” to Israel.

Even more scandalous, while the Palestinian Authority (PA), which failed to even condemn the attack, actively funds Palestinian terrorism in an arrangement which provides money to the families of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.

Under this ‘pay for slay’ financing (officially called the Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund) hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated annually to support (underwrite) acts of Palestinian terrorism.

In his zeal to portray Israeli settlers as an increasingly violent and extremist group, Shehadeh is attempting to make a maximal claim out of far less impressive evidence.

Shehadeh states that there are roughly 500,000 Israelis who live in Judea & Samaria, who live among nearly three million Palestinians.

But Israelis who live among Palestinians are not the extremists that Shehadeh portrays them as. In Judea & Samaria, Israelis and Palestinians lives are often intertwined, often economically. Sodastream, the Israeli carbonated bottling company, previously operated a factory in the region, employing both Jews and Arabs in what was called a “model of coexistence” until anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists campaigned for the company to move its operation into Israel proper, which the company did, putting as many as 900 Palestinians out of work. Sodsastream, for its part, said it moved locations for business reasons exclusively.

Rami Levy, an Israeli supermarket chain with locations throughout the area, attracts both Israelis and Palestinians, has famously advertised that its store employees are evenly split between Jews and Arabs.

While tensions persist, Shehadeh once again points the finger squarely at Israel, alleging that the only hope for peace is that “the Israeli public that there can be no democracy as long as the occupation lasts.”

In reality, Israel’s presence in Judea & Samaria is not the obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded by Yasser Arafat in 1964 with the mission of “liberating Palestine” – three years before Israel’s presence in Judea & Samaria. The PLO, which later morphed into the Palestinian Authority, clearly saw Israel’s very existence as problematic, not merely the so-called “occupation.”

Furthermore, Israel has offered the Palestinians virtually all of Judea & Samaria in a peace agreement, only to have the proposal rejected and met with violence instead.

Judea and Samaria, contra Shehadeh, is not a foreign land to Jews. Though the land is called the “West Bank” by the contemporary news media, these lands are where Jews have lived for three thousand years, and where international law permits an Israeli presence, contrary to Shehadeh’s claims to the contrary.

Today, as it has been for decades, the threat to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not a question of real estate, but of ideology, namely the extremist refusal of many Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. Until the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian society widely condemns and actively works to prevent acts of Palestinian terrorism, then any hope for peace will be little more than a mirage.



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