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Study: Settler violence is structural, not a 'price tag' matter

A study conducted by the Washington-based Palestine Center documents settler violence and helps explain how it has been allowed to flourish.

Masked settler (flickr ISM NC - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A new study will be released this week on the growing occurrence of Jewish settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank. The Palestine Center, an influential think tank based in Washington DC, has conducted the report utilizing seven years of daily reports and documentation in order to help explain how, when and where settler violence occurs.

The report, entitled When Settlers Attack, documents a heavy increase in violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers over the last four years, especially from 2010 to 2011, which witnessed a 39 percent rise over a single year and a 315 percent increase from 2006. In 2011 alone there were an average of 2.6 incidents of settler violence per day against Palestinians, marking an historical high point.

Armed settler in At-Tuwani on Friday (photo: Operation Dove)

A common theory by many observers is that the increase in settler violence can be attributed to the phenomenon of a settler “price tag” policy, enacted against Palestinians as “retribution” for actions by the State of Israel taken against the settlers.

The Palestine Center’s report objects to this conclusion, arguing that settler violence is structural in nature.

While minimal variation in Israeli settler violence over time can be explained as a response to Israeli state actions against settlements, like the dismantlement of outposts, the vast majority of Israeli settler violence is not responsorial but rather structural and symptomatic of occupation.

Along with general explanations of the methods used by settlers, the report studies patterns of violence over the past seven years on a geographical and chronological scale. One of the report’s most interesting attributes is the use of maps to display when and where the violence is coming from.

The report also notes a significant geographical change in where settler violence mainly occurs. Traditionally, Palestinian communities in the southern part of the West Bank were the most prone to violence originating from Jewish settlements. In 2009, however, that changed as the north of the West Bank witnessed the most settler violence, particularly in the area surrounding Nablus.

In general, the geographic trend north, where rural villages are predominantly targeted, suggests that settlers are exploiting unfettered access to isolated Palestinian villages to perpetrate violence more than ever before.

Another interesting discovery is that settler violence does not always occur in communities closest to those settlements where it originates, bypassing proximity considerations in order to strike at targets that fall under Israeli military jurisdiction, specified under the Oslo Accords. Thus the Palestinian Authority can offer little help or protection and the Israeli military remains either unwilling or complacent in the activities.

Settlers with military escort in At-Tuwani (photo: Operation Dove)

This testifies to the structural nature of settler violence as opposed to a response-based one aimed at reacting to either Palestinian initiated violence or Israeli state policy.  Indeed, according to the report, over 90 percent of villages facing repeated attacks by settlers fall within Israeli security jurisdiction, representing a complete failure by the occupying authority to protect civilians under its jurisdiction.

Although the Palestine Center report is not the first to document settler violence, it does make a serious contribution to the discussion and is worth reading. In its conclusion, it lays out several recommendations to different parties, including the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, foreign governments and journalists.

 

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    1. Passerby

      In the pictures above, a peaceful groups of settlers went to peacefully visit the site of an ancient synagogue. According to the report by the NGO which is one of many that spends its time and resources covering all the evils of the settlers and the IDF, it was reported that on this visit an olive tree may have been damaged.

      http://972mag.com/photos-settlers-march-through-palestinian-village/34676/

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      Let’s see – an armed group of Palestinians come peacefully to worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. How innocent! How benign! How wrong of Israel to complain about this!

      Reply to Comment
    3. John Moyle

      @PASSERBY – You may well be correct. Very little, if any, physical violence may have been perpetrated by the settlers that day in At-Tuwani. But to look at this one episode in isolation completely masks the history of settler violence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron hills over the past decade or more.

      The IDF actually has to escort children (children!) to elementary school in this village each day to protect them from the threats and attacks from settlers; some days the IDF doesn’t even show up and the children must brave the walk to school on their own. Shepherds have been regularly attacked and beaten by hooded settler thugs as they walk with their flocks. Similarly, farmers have been attacked while working their fields. International observers and escorts for the children have been routinely attacked and beaten by settlers through the years. Systematic destruction of mosques, homes, wells, cisterns, orchards, vineyards and other buildings have been routine as well. The settlers have desired this land for years, and to seize it they know they must drive out the Palestinians who live there.

      So, when a large number of settlers, some of whom were armed, parade through the streets of At-Tuwani with an IDF escort, it is not merely “a peaceful group of settlers” visiting the site of an ancient synagogue. Rather, it is a provocational and overtly threatening action in an attempt to intimidate the people of At-Tuwani at the very least. And to claim that it was “a peaceful group of settlers,” then please explain to me why they showed up with their weapons and with an IDF escort when they were visiting a village that does not belong to them and in which none of them live? The action is symptomatic of the larger, “structural” campaign of the settlers to seize illegally land that does not belong to them.

      Just thought providing a little background history to your post above would give any new or learning readers a fuller and truer picture of the reality that exists in At-Tuwani on the ground.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Passerby,
      Settler violence and harassment in the West Bank are a routine part of life. In the village where the latter photos were taken, At-Tuwani, Christian Peacemaker Teams provide a round-the-clock presence in order to support the villagers. One of their most important duties is to walk with the children on the way to and from school, as chasing them with guns and clubs seems to be a favourite sport of settlers from Hav’at Ma’on. A few months ago, a settler struck a CPT member from Tuwani over the head with a metal pipe, causing serious injury. Sometimes it takes the children hours to get home from school, as settlers head them off. They find it funny. This is life in Tuwani. Most of it you never hear about, because once this has happened to you a dozen times in a month it becomes as normal as the weather.
      .
      It is quite a frightening experience to have masked armed men descending on you, screaming, “Arab-loving whore!” I’m lucky that this is the worst I have experienced. My colleague Rousol had a bucket of faeces and urine slung at her. The groups that document these abuses do so for the sake of the people who are subjected to these things on a regular basis, in the hope of making a difference to their lives.
      .
      As for prayer, if anybody would like to pray at holy sites in the West Bank, it’s better to go as a worshipper and not as an occupier. What kind of prayer can you make with an assault rifle in your hands, and a village with no running water or sanitation lying barely half a mile away?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Passerby

      You know, there are settlers who are violent, to the point where they have attacked an IDF base recently. However, the suggestion that all settlers or even a majority of settlers is violent and it’s systematic is simply false.
      ——–
      I didn’t choose the photos represented here, the writer did. They reveal something very different than what the article suggests and what John’s comments suggest.
      ——
      The guns are being worn as defensive measures not offensive ones, because sometimes bad things happen to Jews who aren’t of the pro-Palestinian variety when they enter certain areas. There are more photos of that day and you can see local villagers mixing with the visiting settlers. It is a peaceful walk to an ancient site, nothing more.
      ——-
      Jews have learned to carry guns for protection since 1920 in this region and anybody who lives in Israel is used to seeing these guns on people. You know very well, John, that the gun you see was not used to intimidate anybody.
      ———
      With respect to At-Tuwani, try to read between the lines of this NGO’s press release.
      “The village has grown significantly since 2004, when all its homes were under threat of demolition. Defying these threats, At-Tuwani has constructed ten new homes, a health and community centre, electrical infrastructure, a paved road through the village, a new cistern, and a mosque. It has a woman’s co-op that sells traditional crafts to groups that come to the village, which helps to support families and the new infrastructure. The village has also received grants from various agencies, one of which it has recently used to buy several computers to provide IT training for village youth.”

      http://www.cpt.org/cptnet/2011/10/21/tuwani-cpt-palestine-closes-tuwani-project

      ———–
      In other words, the “threatened” village with the “threatening, violent” settler neighbors has grown, become well established, is showing signs of affluence and certainly a permanence it did not have several years ago. Who did this? Well, the NGOs helped and the villagers built, but the Israelis created the infrastructure for the village, sent out soldiers when it was claimed there was danger from settlers and have enabled the village to grow and thrive by turning a blind eye to the illegal construction and by allowing the village to conduct its own governance.
      ———-
      But in this topsy turvy world of anti-Israel propaganda, instead of acknowledging these developments, you, the author and also the author of that CPT press release would prefer to promote the idea that the Palestinians are suffering madly and the settlers are evil ogres and its all under the monstrous thumb of the occupation and the IDF.
      ——–
      What can I say? Propaganda is effective. Keep right at it.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Passerby

      Yes Vicki, right next door there are a number of villages without electricity or running water. Here is why.

      http://www.jpost.com/Sci-Tech/Article.aspx?id=256320

      ———-

      The Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria tend to be connected to the electricity and water grids. There are some areas that have not been reached or that refuse assistance. But, you know, Israel didn’t invent poverty in this region. Palestinians have a higher standard of living than some Arab states.
      ———

      The Israelis have approached the PA on several occasions to build sewage and water desalination plants and have been rebuffed consistently, even though there are international funds available to accomplish these things.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Passerby,
      There are acute water shortages in the West Bank because 80% of the water supplied by the West Bank aquifers is piped directly into Israel and the remaining 10% goes to the settlement. This is why even those of us who are connected to a water grid often go without. I am lucky – my house in Bethlehem has a very deep cistern for the collection of rainwater. Other people aren’t so fortunate, and in summer they go for weeks before they can wash their clothes. The longest we have been without running water for in our neighbourhood, to my memory, is just over two months. Meanwhile, just two miles away, there is a swimming pool in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel and the lawns in the settlements are kept green. In Dheisheh camp, the army often switches off the water as a punishment.
      .
      For the villages I’m talking about, the issue is not one of refusing to be connected to the water supply or the sanitation system. It is rare for such offers to be made (only when the health and wellbeing of local settlers is threatened by the absence of sanitation, basically) and Palestinian communities are charged extortionate prices for the privilege of connecting to these services, which are often far beyond their means. What they want is to be able to develop and regulate their own services, and the occupation prevents that. It is routine for the army (not just settler vandals, the army itself) to demolish wells and destroy cisterns in Area C, so even these sources of water become inaccessible. I have accompanied volunteers to repair these wells on several occasions. As for electricity, it is equally routine for residents of rural communities to be cut off from the supply – back in November Civil Administration employees tried to sever the electricity supply to Umm al-Kheir’s neighbouring villages during a demolition they were carrying out in Umm al-Khair. Please remember that I live in the OPT, and trying to pass off the locals as spoilt children who are refusing candy handed out by Israel just won’t work with me. This is an occupying power we’re talking about, not a friendly benign great-uncle whose pockets are filled with sweets for good children. Your justifications remind me of the same excuses that supporters of the British Empire used for the plundering of resources in Britain’s colonies. They also claimed that they were making life better for the locals while helping themselves to all they had.
      .

      In other words, the “threatened” village with the “threatening, violent” settler neighbors has grown, become well established, is showing signs of affluence and certainly a permanence it did not have several years ago. Who did this? Well, the NGOs helped and the villagers built, but the Israelis created the infrastructure for the village…”
      .
      Not all the homes are under demolition order any more, it’s true. Only some of them are (including the house of the village leader – it’s been torn down several times and each time he has lived in a tent while its rebuilding was completed.) Are the villagers supposed to bow down in gratitude to the IDF because only some of the population is living with this plight, as opposed to all of it? As for the ‘infrastructure’ so generously provided by the army, the local children have to take hours to reach school because they are barred from walking on the road that was once theirs. It is now reserved for the exclusive use of settlers.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      The idea that someone carrying an automatic rifle is “not intimidating” illustrates the absurdity of these remarks.

      .
      The phenomenon is the same as the Orange Order marches in N Ireland, before they were restricted – a triumphalist exhibition of naked power.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ugh, I pressed ‘submit’ too soon. I was going to add that all the money for the improvements that Tuwani has made (and far from being the thriving metropolis that you paint, it’s still a very poor rural village – have you been there recently? Or ever?) came from the work of the women’s co-op and financial support from the NGOs. In case you were imagining the women’s handicrafts being sold in a glitzy shopping mall kindly build by IDF soldiers in their free time, it’s in a little hut. The women have relied on charitable agencies and NGOs to promote their work. IDF offers nothing. They are supposed to guarantee the safety of the children on their way to school, but they often don’t turn up, or they arrive hours late. Often they collude with the settlers; there was a very upsetting incident when they accelerated their jeep as the children were following behind, laughing at their own amusing behaviour, leaving the children to face the settlers alone. That day, when the settlers descended on those children, the Magav accused the children of ‘provoking’ the settlers by walking on the road.
      .
      I don’t understand how you can try to present Tuwani as a progressive haven that is flourishing under the kind protection of the army, when you’ve never set foot in the place and you have never had to live the life that those villagers lead. I know these people personally. I am not about to let anyone tell me that unless I hail as a ‘development’ the fact that not every house in the village is under demolition order, I am succumbing to propaganda. I suspect that you have far higher standards when it comes to quality of life for Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Palestinian

      Settlers are hired for 6 main reasons ,confiscate (aka steal) more land that Tel Avivians refuse to resettle in,turn the lives of the Palestinians into a living hell ,give legitimacy to the presence of the ITF (Israeli terror forces)everywhere ,feed the visious violence cycle,preserve the green land inside the 48 borders ,and separate btw the cool Isralis and the Israeli fanatics.Someone has to do the dirty job ,someone violence towards the indigenous population is part of his beliefs and existence!And I think they enjoy it …

      Reply to Comment
    11. Passerby

      Actually Vicki, it wasn’t I who was trying to pass anything off. On two different articles on this site, a benign trip of a bunch of kids with accompanying adults has been depicted as some sort of nefarious “settler” evil.
      —–
      Look at the photos again. Yes, the kids wear kippahs, but they’re not monsters and it’s bullshit to depict them as such.
      ——-
      Yes, they have an adult accompanying them with a gun, and we all know very well why and it’s bullshit to depict it as some sort of bullying or anything of the sort.
      ——-
      Yet, that’s what has been presented here.
      ———–

      I pointed out in my later comment that NGOs helped the village, because I assumed they did. I also didn’t say life was rosy for the villagers or any villagers, but I did point out – accurately – that their standards of living as are the standards of living of many Palestinians are higher than in some Arab states and it’s not fair or right to blame the Israelis for Palestinian poverty along with everything else the Israelis are blamed for.
      ——-
      I’ll make a deal with you, Vicki. How about we both stick to the truth. You acknowledge that while there are some settlers who belong in some deep recess of hell, the majority are decent people who want to live in peace. I’ll admit that there are some settlers who belong in some deep recess of hell because their actions are atrocious.
      ———-
      Then we can both admit that life isn’t quite safe for the settlers. Okay? They are targets for some Palestinians and violence has been done to settlers enough times that they have cause for concern.
      ——–
      Why don’t we also admit that Israel more than meets its obligations under Oslo with respect to water and actually exceeds them by far.
      ———-
      Why don’t we then admit that three peace deals have been proposed by Israel since 2000 and all three would have put an end to the occupation?
      ——-
      Why don’t we admit that in lieu of peace, the Israelis have done quite a bit to facilitate Fayyad’s growth program which has benefited the Palestinian economy considerably over the past number of years.
      ———-
      If we can admit those things, then don’t you think that our conversation would have a very different tone? We can discuss the “settlers” as if they’re human beings, we can discuss the Palestinians as if they’re human beings, we can discuss the challenges both are facing with integrity, we can discuss the good that Israel has done (like enabling 7 universities to come into being) along with the evils of having its soldiers in the midst of parts of the civilian population, and so on.
      ——–
      We can have a real conversation, Vicki. But first, how about we stop with the endless demonizing? Not all Palestinians are terrorists and not all settlers are violent animals out to hunt Palestinians. If you want a real discussion, leave the propaganda behind.

      Reply to Comment
    12. I wasn’t focusing on the photos. I was more interested in the place where they were taken, as I know the village; and the report itself.
      .
      I don’t think those children are monsters. No one is, not even settlers who have committed violent crimes. Near Bethlehem there is a specialist school for the rehabilitation of traumatised children whose difficulties mean they would struggle in an ordinary school environment, Hope Flowers. Hussein Issa, its founder, once stated, “Every act of violence starts from an unhealed wound.” I believe he was right, and when I encounter violent settlers, I remember that. I’m not thrilled to be pursued by people wielding clubs and buckets of urine, but I don’t think they are monsters. Too often people assume that peace work in Palestine is just about land rights. It’s more than that; it’s about how we relate to people who have caused terrible harm. I disagree with you when you say that ‘some settlers belong in the deep recesses of hell’; they are my neighbours, and I owe them respect just because we’re human. Your humanity is not something you can ever lose, no matter what sort of crime you commit. I’m every bit as interested in what violent settlers might do in the future than what they have done in the past. People might commit horrible crimes, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. However, respecting this does not mean excusing what people do.
      .
      The reason why settler violence is referred to as structural is because their crimes mirror the state’s own policy in the Territories. If the army is content to cut off the drinking water to thirteen thousand people as a penalty for camp residents throwing stones at jeeps, is it really such an aberration when settlers go out to contaminate wells? If the Israeli government is prepared to destroy the ancient Mamila cemetery to make way for the Simon Wiesenthal Museum, how can we be surprised when settlers deface a few graves? The settlers who move into Ma’ale Adumim have probably never beaten up an aid worker, never torched an olive grove. But the state is demolishing Khan al-Ahmar for them, and planning to relocate its inhabitants to what is currently a municipal rubbish dump, where they are expected to live in old shipping containers. Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim’s residents may never even know it, which is why this sort of state-sponsored violence is far more alarming to me than anything the inhabitants of Hav’at Ma’on and its outpost have done. Hav’at Ma’on and its outpost were born of this environment. This is why we interpret violence as part of a wider structure.
      .
      The militarisation of Israeli society is part of that structure. In many cases guns really are toted about as a means of demonstrating control; I’ve seen it happening with the IDF’s ‘demonstrations of presence’ in Area A, and also with settler tours. While some participants might honestly feel that they are protected by those guns, you have to ask yourself, protected in what sense? This heavy militarisation leads to paranoia and dehumanisation – I remember watching a soldier prodding a little girl out of the way with the butt of his rifle during a settler tour of the Old City in Hebron, as though it were the most natural thing in the world. In the OPT we have a climate of power where it really has become natural, and this doesn’t guarantee safety for anyone – it only deepens segregation through dehumanising the Palestinians and promoting fear. Safety isn’t about being able to go wherever you want and do whatever you want without consequences. Watching that little scene, I felt sorry for the little girl, but I also felt sorry for the soldier, who has reached a point in his life where he can treat a child like that. So long as he is able to do that, he will never feel safe.
      .
      As for settlers facing violence from the local population, they came as occupiers and the local population feels the consequences of that occupation. They don’t live as equals, and the violence cannot be treated as equal. As a pacifist, I don’t believe that violence is ever the right response to oppression; but then I don’t believe that imposing martial law on a population, plundering its resources, and rendering any semblance of ordinary life impossible are OK either. You can’t back one but condemn the other.
      .
      This post is specifically about settler violence, and I’m wary of taking it too far off-topic (I know I’m quite often guilty of that on this site), but I hope we will get the chance to discuss the other things you mention on more relevant posts.

      Reply to Comment
    13. The village depicted in two of the photos above is often under violent attack or threat of violence from Jewish settlers, something that is well documented. However, I did not use those photos to display an act of settler violence caught on camera but rather to show armed Jewish settlers entering a Palestinian village accompanied and protected by the Israeli military.

      Reply to Comment
    14. aristeides

      If Passerby wants to stick to the truth, he’ll abandon the lie that these settler expeditions to Palestinian villages are in any sense “benign.”

      Reply to Comment
    15. Passerby

      Omar, it would be nice if everyone felt that Jews could enter the village safely to go to this ancient synagogue. I wouldn’t feel safe.
      ——–
      Vicki, you did it again. And you didn’t just do it piecemeal, you brought out the entire tray.
      ——–
      Would you like me to show you the article showing that the “ancient Mamila cemetery” was going to be built upon by the good old Palestinian Grand Mufti in the 1940s? It was merely a fluke that construction was delayed by the British, otherwise, you wouldn’t even know there was a graveyard there.

      —–

      So if I follow your train of thought, this means that it’s no surprise that Palestinians have been desecrating Jewish gravestones at Mount of Olives and other sites for decades, or that the Jordanians took gravestones from a Jewish cemetery and turned them into underfoot pavement that people could walk on?
      ———-
      Boy, this is an easy game to play. Should I enter a litany of all the Palestinian attacks, such as the one on the Fogel Family which has recently been praised on Palestinian TV? What does that tell us, Vicki? Should we learn something from that about the Palestinians? How about the Sbarro attack art gallery at one of the Palestinian universities. What does showing the body parts of an innocent family blown up while peacefully eating pizza tell us about Palestinians who didn’t participate in the actual bombing but revel in it?
      ——–
      You didn’t do what I asked, Vicki, which was to enter into a genuine and honest conversation. Instead you went into a full-on set of attacks on Israel without placing any of the blame on the Palestinians. Nope, they’re just victims. And if they exhibit violence here and there it’s because “Every act of violence starts from an unhealed wound.” How romantic.
      ———
      In the meantime, according to you, what Israel does and what the settlers do is “structured.” Never mind that some of these characters attack soldiers, no, it’s all structured.
      ———
      What the Palestinians do, however, isn’t structured. Nope. When Fatah decides in the Sixth Congress to perpetuate the existence of refugee camps because it’s good for the media, that’s not structured. When Fatah decides to press attacks on Israel on the model of the apartheid accusations against South Africa, which are then repeated endlessly not just by Palestinian spokesmen but also by their endless shills across the world, that’s not structured. For that matter, who would think denying Jewish connections to Israel or the existence of the Temple are structured? Nope, they just happen by accident? And the Jews? They’re not victims of any of this and it shouldn’t affect them or cause them paranoia in the least. Their guns are the problem.
      ——-
      How about all those non-violent, OOPS, I meant UNARMED, demonstrations that just happen to take place weekly with plenty of reporters to cover all that stone throwing and the Israeli response. Not structured, I’m sure. And the occasional Pallywood production like the recent one where one activist claimed to have been run over by a truck but when the medic arrived, the activist switched the leg which was supposed to have been injured? A fluke. Not structured at all.
      ——-
      How about terror? Is that structured? When the Palestinians made sure that Israelis couldn’t feel safe in restaurants, buses, supermarkets, public squares, markets or schools, do you think that along with their “healing of their wound” through the murder and maiming of endless Israelis, that they were also sending a message to the Israeli public that there is no place safe for them in Israel and whenever they kiss their wife/child/husband/sibling goodbye in the morning they should know it might well be for the last time? Or do you think it was just all one big fluky healing of a big wound?
      ——-
      How about those eight thousand rockets and counting directed at civilian communities in Israel, even though not a single Jew remained in Gaza? Were those rockets structured violence? What do they tell us, Vicki? Do they represent an unhealed wound of some sort or genocidal tendencies targeting Jews? Should Jews be paranoid that even when their guns are behind a border, they should expect to be attacked?
      ———-
      You’re very passionate in your advocacy for the Palestinians and against the Israelis. However, with all due respect, until you acknowledge that the victims here are not just victims and that they actually could have made significant decisions to have changed where we are in the conflict, then every single time you advocate against the occupation and against Israeli settlers or soldiers, you are holding back on one key truth. The misrepresentation you are making, Vicki, is that there could already have been peace but the Palestinians have pursued a strategy, a structured strategy if you will, of avoiding compromise and peace for many decades.
      ——-
      Perhaps along with all that energy you expend helping them and avoiding those settler-sent urine-filled buckets, you could make an effort to encourage the Palestinians to make peace with Israel?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Passerby, Vicky did respond fully to your very long comment. She also responded courteously, factually and intelligently. But instead of acknowledging her courtesy and responding in kind, you are trying to wear her down with comments that get longer and longer and bring up more and more talking points.

      The bottom line is as follows:

      Armed Jews are allowed to wander the West Bank freely.
      Armed Palestinians are arrested and jailed in a military prison; they have no right to a a trial in civil court.
      Jews carrying weapons can enter Palestinian villages, uninvited, and wander around under army protection.
      Unarmed Palestinians cannot enter settlements unless they have a special pass.
      Jewish settlers get all the water they want.
      Palestinian residents of the West Bank are deprived of sufficient water for their needs.

      These are all facts that are not in dispute.

      Your comments about Gaza and rockets and stone-throwing have absolutely nothing to do with the post or with Vicki’s comment. Please keep your responses much shorter and stick to the subject matter. Consult the commenting guidelines under the ‘about’ section for further information.

      Reply to Comment
    17. “Would you like me to show you the article showing that the “ancient Mamila cemetery” was going to be built upon by the good old Palestinian Grand Mufti in the 1940s…”
      .
      The Grand Mufti was installed by the British authorities (despite receiving the lowest proportion of the vote). It isn’t a surprise that he or any quasi-colonial figurehead would ride roughshod over the sentiments of local people. That’s what tends to happen with oppressive power structures.
      .
      The difference between the occupation and acts of Palestinian violence is that the occupying power has tight, regimented control over every aspect of Palestinian daily life. Palestinians do not have the ability to seal off roads in Israel, declare them closed to non-Palestinian vehicles, arrest five-year-old Jewish children (the age of the youngest Palestinian detainee to date, Yahya al-Rishaq), and all the other things that come with occupation. Their only power lies in revenge/retaliation, it is qualitatively different from the occupation itself. Structured violence is about power. We are talking about policies implemented from the top down, and reinforced at every level of society. This can’t be said about any of the examples you cite, owing to how disenfranchised and fractured Palestinian society has become.
      .
      But this does not mean that reactive violence doesn’t hurt or that it doesn’t matter. You don’t grieve any the less because your child is killed by a suicide bomber rather than by a well-equipped air force. The nature of the violence doesn’t affect how we respond to its victims: they all need the same compassion, and to be treated as suffering individuals. It does affect the strategy we plan to eradicate such violence, because a strategy needs to take the origins of violence into account.
      .
      The distinction between state-sponsored/structural violence and reactive violence also does not mean that people have no personal responsibility; I would argue that when you are caught up in a system of this sort, you need to be extra careful with the choices you make, because this is pretty much the only freedom you have. Unfortunately, while the vast majority of Palestinians did not choose violence and never chose violence, they suffered anyway. There was a brutal military occupation long before there were any suicide bombings, and those bombings can’t be used to retroactively justify it.
      .
      Hussein Issa believed that violence was the product of unhealed wounds. He never said that violence could heal them, and neither did I. Of all the students who have passed through Hope Flowers School in the thirty or so years since it was opened, not one has ever been involved in any act of violence against any person. Not one, not even during the height of the Second Intifada, despite the fact that so many students came from volatile areas that were hotbeds for militancy at the time. This suggests to me that Issa’s approach has got merit in it. It’s not something I can tell you or anyone else to follow, but whenever I encounter a violent person myself – no matter who they are – I will stick with it. It comes down to the question of personal responsibility I mentioned just before; I choose to act this way.
      .
      And no, it’s not romantic. It brings you into contact with some really awful situations. I will give one example from my own personal life, not Palestine-related: rape. How do I view the violence of my attacker? Do I call him a monster, say he deserves to rot in hell? For a long time I struggled with that question. When you have been hurt in such a way, it’s not easy to recognise the humanity of the person who has hurt you, much less to want their good. Unconditional compassion is possible, albeit painful. It necessitates a massive fight within yourself and it isn’t fun. I have every sympathy for people who struggle to manage it, no matter whether they’re Palestinian, Israeli, or an Inuit from Greenland, but I still hope that they will manage it one day. Again, not romance. Just perseverence. In Palestine we call it sumud.
      .
      As for your comment about the attacks on soldiers, structural violence doesn’t preclude such attacks. Why would it? The system is imploding now, and even before it became visible through these attacks, there were plenty of soldiers who found their role in the OPT at odds with their personal convictions. They kept quiet about it, but tensions were always there. Cogs can turn against their will, conscripts can serve against their consciences, and settlers whose expectations have grown larger than those of their own government can turn against the people mandated to support them. The existence of tensions and dissent within a system doesn’t negate the existence of the system itself.
      .
      “You’re very passionate in your advocacy for the Palestinians and against the Israelis…”
      .
      It is strange to me that you would be happy to accept me condemning to hell a subgroup of the settlers – actual people – but not happy for me to condemn a set of policies that make it possible for them to commit crimes. This system is fundamentally inhumane, but the people in it are human and all deserving of justice. I try to work from that principle.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Passerby

      Lisa Goldman, I’m not surprised to see you threaten me and attempting to have me censor myself because you’re uncomfortable with what I’ve written. What I wrote is in the exact same spirit as what Vicki had written: it was a full-on attack on the other side that put the blame squarely on its shoulders. Sure, she wrote it without the sarcasm, but the attack was full-blown and placed all of the blame on Israel. I answered in kind. Sorry about the length, but you know how it is with complex topics.
      ———–
      Vicki,
      Everyone who comments on this site seems to wish to absolve the Mufti and separate him from the Palestinians. I’m sorry to report that aside from his nephew, Mr. Arafat, taking over the family business and proving which family controlled the Palestinians in case there were any questions, the Mufti was a key Palestinian leader with tremendous influence on the history of this conflict. His actions were not taken with the intent of benefiting the British, but the Arabs. This is why he sided with the Nazis in WWII. And as much as everybody seeks to separate him from the Arabs, the reality is that every pogrom against the Jews, as well as the ’36-39 intifadah, came about because the Mufti was able to mobilize significant numbers of Palestinians.
      ——
      I wouldn’t be happy with you condemning anyone to hell. I don’t believe in hell, it’s mostly a Christian idea. My point was that there are some settlers who are on the fringes and they have gone so far in their actions that they deserve severe punishments.
      ———–
      Some soldiers are opposed to the occupation and many have been for decades. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t perceived as necessary by most soldiers. It is both necessary and legal.
      ——-
      Could it be more humane? I think it could always be more humane. If you’re suggesting that Israelis arrest 5 year olds, let’s be real about this. Some teens and pre-teens are arrested because some participate in activities in which they shouldn’t and there have been suicide bombers as well as suicide-bomb smugglers from these age groups. When you break the law as a teenager in North America, you go to juvenile detention. I’m not quite sure what you expect the Israelis to do.
      ——-
      Many of the activities that take place under the occupation are done because they are necessary. It seems that after the orgy of suicide bombings against Israelis in the early 2000s, the Israelis realized they could only stem the tide of attacks with extensive changes to the manner in which they control the territories. Those changes have been uncomfortable for the Palestinian population, but they have brought terror attacks inside Israel to a much smaller number. I think you know well that as the attacks have subsided, Israel has been opening up life for the Palestinians in stages. The Palestinian economy grew at a much faster clip than Israel’s because of this.
      ———-
      If you’re suggesting that the occupation was more brutal prior to Oslo, I disagree. I also don’t believe this is a brutal occupation. Brutal is what Syria is doing to its population or what Jordan did to the Palestinians in Black September.
      —–
      When people talk about a brutal occupation, I think about that movie “Checkpoint” which was supposed to show Israel’s brutal occupation and after 3 years of filming all the filmmakers could show was the banality of the checkpoints. The occupation is so brutal that the murderers of the Fogels know that in a prisoner exchange or two, they’ll be freed. You’d think that is the outcome of an occupation with a great deal of sympathy. To put this into context, read what the British did to people it captured in Palestine. And those folks attacked soldiers before being sentenced to death and hanged.
      ———
      Nonetheless, I suspect that if you ask any Israeli, Israeli soldier, Israeli general or politician whether they’d rather prolong the occupation or end it, you’d get a preference for ending it.
      ——–
      “state-sponsored/structural violence and reactive violence”
      It’s not reactive. It’s proactive. It has been proactive since the 1920s. When it stops, or at least when it becomes unacceptable to both the Palestinian population and leadership, then we’ll have peace. I’m basing that statement on the basis of numerous polls and the activities of the PA sponsored/led media.
      ———-
      The difference between the well-equipped air force and the suicide bomber is their target. Yes, Palestinian civilians are killed by the Israeli air force, but it’s not as if the Israeli air force is attempting to methodically ensure that the Palestinians don’t feel safe anywhere while killing as many of them as possible. On the contrary, the Israeli Air Force has developed and continues to develop all sorts of procedural methods seeking to minimize civilian losses among its enemies. If only Hamas could say that!
      ————
      Why isn’t it possible to have an honest discussion about this? The Palestinians could have chosen throughout all these years to attack soldiers and the military. Instead, they’ve chosen to attack civilians and to kill as many as they could in their attacks. That is a difference that you do not qualify when you equate the two and it’s disingenuous. These Palestinian terror attacks are immoral. Period. And it’s not just bombings, it’s sniper attacks as well. 5000 of them in the Palestinian War of the past decade. Against civilians the vast majority of the time.
      ——-
      Your claim about the difference between the tight, regimented control the Israelis have vs. the Palestinians ignores the information I provided above. Quite a bit of what the Palestinians do, from demonstrations in villages, to claims of apartheid, to diplomatic moves against Israel, to violence (when it exists and when it doesn’t) comes from a centralized Palestinian leadership. Sure, at times they merely roll the ball and then let it continue on its way, and there also are some groups who act independently, but most of the time there is a guiding hand. A very sophisticated guiding hand.
      ——–
      Read the decision of of the Sixth Fatah Congress to understand what is happening here. Seriously, read that document. They even choose to keep refugee camps open because the imagery serves the cause.
      ————
      I’m also sorry to report that Palestinian society was previously far more fractured and disenfranchised than since the intifada of the late 80s. These days represent some of their most unified days ever. Think about the dearth of voices that openly criticize Palestinian leadership decisions recommending greater gestures of peace and compromise. The only “independent” voices tend to criticize the PA or other groups for not being extreme enough.
      ——–
      In Gaza, it’s hard to know when a group is truly independent or doing the bidding of Hamas under a different name. During the height of the Palestinian War of the 2000s, following almost every terror attack, two different groups would take credit. The tactic was intended to confuse Israeli intelligence, but it also revealed a master plan and cooperation between groups.
      ———
      The point is that the Palestinians are not and have never been hapless victims without a plan or guidance. There is an imbalance of forces with Israel, but that’s because Israel built its army to fight other armies and because it has been far better at organizing itself as a community than the Palestinians over the past century.
      ———
      And the amazing thing is that the roads and the checkpoints and the towns and almost everything you see in Judea and Samaria except for a relatively miniscule percentage of that land could be sitting in Palestine today. Even most of the settlers and settlements would be inside Israel. Israel has extended that offer twice (three times if you include the lesser deal at Camp David). The Palestinian leadership has refused the deals.
      ——
      Since that is the case and since you would like the occupation to end, can you tell us what efforts at lobbying the Palestinian population and leadership you are making to have them accept a compromise?

      Reply to Comment
    19. aristeides

      Passerby’s prolonged polemics attempting to blame the Palestinians for their own victimization can be swept into the trash, because he begins from the false assumption that the presence of the settlers in the WB possesses legitimacy. It does not. International law governing occupied territory makes it overwhelmingly clear that the presence on occupied territory of even a single Israeli resident is impermissible.

      .
      The settlers have no place on the WB. None. Every one of them is a criminal, simply by virtue of their presence there. Israel’s claim to Palestinian territory as “state land” is likely entirely illegimimate.

      .
      Further, the occupied population, the Palestinians, have by international law the right of armed resistance to the occupation. It is no use arguing that this does not apply to attacks on civilian populations, because no Israeli civilian population has any right at all to be present there. Thus, any harm they suffer must be entirely the fault of Israel, for allowing their presence.

      .
      It is an indisputable fact, that if no settlers were present in the WB, they would be in no danger from Palestinians. But far from being the victims of Palestinian violence, the settlers are the aggressors in every respect. It doesn’t matter whether any particular individuals have engaged in violence against Palestinians. Their very presence, enforced by the constant threat of the military occupation force, is an act of violence.

      .
      There is no defense for it. None. No justification. None.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Passerby

      “It is an indisputable fact, that if no settlers were present in the WB, they would be in no danger from Palestinians.”
      ——–
      Actually, more attacks were perpetrated inside the Green Line in the Palestinian War of 2000-2006 than in the territories. In fact, now that I think about it, this fact holds true since then as well since virtually all of the attacks from Gaza are launched at civilian targets inside the Green Line.
      —–
      That’s aside from the fact that Judea and Samaria remain in an unresolved status until UNSC Resolution 242 is actualized, and especially since it was never Palestinian territory to begin with.
      ——–
      Israel has never debated this issue in a court of law, but you have no idea what the outcome would be if it did. The 2004 decision about the security barrier, for example, had no Israeli participation.
      —–
      But if you want to excuse attacks on civilians as moral and the fault of Israel, not the fault of the attackers who are, according to you, perfectly in their rights to murder and maim civilians, then your sense of morality is a seriously off-kilter.
      ———-
      And don’t celebrate your immoral logic too quickly. In justifying these attacks, you also have justified all Israeli military activities conducted to stop such attacks. After all, if “armed resistance” is permitted, so is the country’s right to defend itself and its citizens.
      —-
      Not surprising to see this come from Mr. I’ll-Express-Antisemitic-Views such as “Israel Firster” (as you did).

      Reply to Comment
    21. And when settlements dump their sewage into Palestinian lands it’s also benign, not aggressive in any way and at the same time indicative of the great (benign) love they have for the land…

      Reply to Comment
    22. Passerby

      If they do, they should be sanctioned and punished for it, Rechavia. Have I suggested anything else here?
      ———-
      To take it back to the original article by Omar Rahman, I merely pointed out that the photos used represent the exact opposite of what this article proposes, as did another 972 article which used the same photos. I was very clear that I oppose extreme and even non-extreme but illegal or highly questionable activities which do happen and happen because of some settlers. I was very clear that they deserve not just a punishment but one in the next world as well.
      ——–
      Dumping sewage on anybody, Arab or not, would constitute that type of crime in my mind. If there are settlements which do this, they should be punished.
      ——–
      However, right now as I read it, it seems the Palestinians are dumping quite a bit of sewage on the Israelis, not the other way around. If you disagree with the Israelis doing it, you should feel the same about the Palestinians doing it. Are you protesting their actions the same as you protest those actions which Israel or its settlers commit that you find disagreeable? If you aren’t, you should be asking yourself why. I mean, really ask that little place inside your heart that tells you that what is happening here is wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Cortez

      “That’s aside from the fact that Judea and Samaria remain in an unresolved status until UNSC Resolution 242 is actualized, and especially since it was never Palestinian territory to begin with.”
      .
      Not really….The West Bank is clearly occupied under International Humanitarian law. It may not be a state but it is clearly Palestinian territory. Israel continues to violate important areas of humanitarian law.
      .
      Its disgusting and embarrassing to see Jews treat the other Jews on the account of their religion and culture as second class non-citizens.
      .

      Reply to Comment
    24. Passerby

      That’s a big discussion, Cortez, and probably this isn’t the right place for it. But it appears that the state of Israel officially disagrees with your premise and whether it constitutes “Palestinian territory.” If you look at 242, it definitely demands some sort of territorial adjustment…and it doesn’t even mention the Palestinians, although in the Oslo agreement, 242 is considered a foundation of the entire deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
      ——
      I have no idea what your last sentence means but it seems you mis-wrote. If you meant to write that it’s disgusting and embarrassing to see Arabs treat Jews as second class citizens on account of their religion and culture, as they have for centuries throughout Islamic countries, including the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire which included Jerusalem, you’d be right.

      Reply to Comment
    25. aristeides

      I see that, as usual, Passerby can not express his opinion without violating the site’s comment policy. This says how far his remarks should be regarded.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Passerby – Your last long comment was nearly 1,400 words. That is about twice as long as the average newspaper op-ed. We have a policy about comment length. If you can’t say what you want to say in a maximum of 500 words (and that is being generous), then don’t comment here. Final warning.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Abu Tanek

      @Lisa: Vicky’s posts are also over 500 words.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Passerby is the most egregious offender & Vicki’s comments are long because she is responding to his even longer comments. This stops now.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Abu Tanek

      Passerby’s posts are factual, polite and relevant (and getting shorter) – it will be a shame to lose an informed commentor.

      @Omar – if you have documantation of Settler’s attacks on At-Tuwani please post them (A link will do, we don’t to lose you because you went over the 500 word limit).

      Reply to Comment
    30. Passerby

      Censorship.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Cortez

      “That’s a big discussion, Cortez, and probably this isn’t the right place for it. But it appears that the state of Israel officially disagrees with your premise and whether it constitutes “Palestinian territory.” If you look at 242, it definitely demands some sort of territorial adjustment…and it doesn’t even mention the Palestinians, although in the Oslo agreement, 242 is considered a foundation of the entire deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
      .
      But Israel’s position is wrong, in fact its a position meant to promote an objectively inhumane and despicable occupation. Nearly the whole world thinks its wrong…including institutions Israel is a member of like the UN. Other countries have actually used similar arguments when they were engaging in disgusting activity.
      ——
      I have no idea what your last sentence means but it seems you mis-wrote. If you meant to write that it’s disgusting and embarrassing to see Arabs treat Jews as second class citizens on account of their religion and culture, as they have for centuries throughout Islamic countries, including the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire which included Jerusalem, you’d be right.
      .
      Yes, I miswrote…I meant to say it is terrible to see Jews treat other Jews…Palestinians— a majority of whom have direct matrilineal and/or patrilineal ancestry to Israelites (I’m assuming most people subscribe to the Rabbinic rules rather than the Karaite rules). And your second statement isn’t entirely correct because depending on the period Jews were treated well but other times quite terribly…but I’m glad we’ve moved past the time because no one deserves to be treated as a second class citizen on the basis of religion, race, culture or ancestry…neither does it make sense to point the terrible acts of others as an excuse to continue horrendous activity. The Ottoman Empire (if one could have favorite Empires…the Ottoman was my least favorite) ended at the beginning of the 20th century…we should be aspiring to ideals and practices that show that we are humane.
      .
      Its a common refrain to say…”look at what they’ve done” but it doesn’t excuse the atrocious acts of the Israeli government (nor of horrible groups like Hamas) but we are talking about racist power struggle predicated on the superiority of one group over another, based on a ideological myth.
      .
      Its quite sad actually because American Judaism has such a rich history of involvement in social justice causes, communal work that goes beyond the Jewish community and host of other activity from the 20th century to the present. I wish that the culture was present in Israel right now.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Passerby

      Sometimes, one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (9 words)

      Reply to Comment
    33. A better example of censorship would be a law banning any organised demonstration or political gathering, such as the law imposed on the population of the Territories in 1967. This is part and parcel of the occupation that you have tried to present as benign up until the Intifada. Every single demonstration is rendered illegal in the West Bank because of it, and participants can be punished at the army’s whim. Back in 1969, a young socialist activist named Mohammed Manasrah was taken to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem and tortured over his activism. He was nineteen years old. In 1971 he was imprisoned for his membership in the United Student Council, as membership in all student councils had been declared illegal by the army. His last imprisonment came when he organised a cultural exhibit and fashion show on behalf of Bethlehem University Student Senate. 972 readers are asked to keep our comments short and on-topic, and you want to equate it with censorship?
      .
      Child arrest was going on long before the suicide bombings. The usual charge is throwing stones, if a charge is made at all. The arrests typically happen in the middle of the night, as if to create maximum fear. As the arrested children live under martial law, they don’t have any of the legal rights that are typically accorded to minors in other countries – there is no obligation to get them a lawyer, there is no age of criminal responsibility. When seven-year-old Ali Siyam was arrested and detained in East Jerusalem last summer, his Israel lawyer (Lea Tsemel) was denied access to him at the police station. When she tried to push past the policeman into the interrogation room, she was arrested herself. This is what the legal system looks like for a Palestinian child, and your comment gives a sharp insight into the attitudes that make this violent and oppressive system sustainable. A child arrest is simply dismissed with, “It must have been necessary for security,” even though there is no evidence to suggest that the child had caused harm to anyone, even if the child is too young to be held to account in (just) legal systems. This is how occupation works. It is far removed from most of Israeli society, so most Israelis don’t even have to look at it; and when it is brought to their attention through second-hand means, they can excuse it if it makes them more comfortable to do so: “The military must have had a good reason.” It’s practically an article of faith, and people will go on believing it until the day comes when they finally have to look those kids in the face.
      .
      Fortunately we have a small but committed group of people within Israeli society – Breaking the Silence, Ta’ayush, Yesh Din, etc. – who are pointing out loudly and clearly that this emperor has no clothes.
      .
      As for the idea of the IDF doing its utmost to guard against civilian casualties, the Palestinian civilian death toll is six times higher than the Israeli equivalent, and that only includes conflict-related deaths (through bombings, shootings, etc). It doesn’t include the people like my boss’s uncle, who died because they couldn’t access adequate medical care as a direct result of the restrictions on their movement. This is what structural violence does to people. Palestinians do not have the capability to impose anything like this on the Israeli population, and they never have had such capability. The organisation I work for in Bethlehem is just that – an organisation. We co-operate with other organisations that share our goals. So yes, we have a structure. But this doesn’t mean that we would be capable of imposing total control on a population should we wish it, because we just haven’t got the power. This is why trying to equate Hamas with the occupation authorities doesn’t work.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Passerby

      Vicki,
      The Palestinians, in a very methodical and organized manner, put collective fear into Israel. To suggest otherwise is either naive or disingenuous. You cannot walk around Jerusalem today without being constantly aware of where terror attacks against Israelis took place. You simply can’t. This is not by some magic force, this is by design.
      ——-
      Palestinian terrorists, and to remind you, we are referring to the PLO here and therefore you can essentially refer to the Palestinian leadership of today if you want to know about whom we’re talking, were very methodical in their attacks. They attacked schools, planes, buses, markets, restaurants and vehicles on the roads. They did it in all the major Israeli cities, on key bus lines, in the main markets, in well known restaurants and on well-traveled roads.
      ———-
      It was methodical and since everybody knew that terrorism couldn’t win the war, we can deduce that it had different motives. They were: death to as many Israelis as possible; developing harmful psychological stress on Israelis; and, lastly, creating awareness of the Palestinian desire to destroy Israel.
      ———-
      It is no accident, for example, that precisely in the run-up to the 2006 Israeli elections, three suicide bombings took place and essentially destroyed Peres’s run for PM. The Palestinians have always assumed they benefit more from having a right-wing PM as a foil than a leftist who is perceived sympathetically around the world (consider how Peres or Barak are perceived vs. Netanyahu by foreign diplomats and leaders).
      ———
      I will respond to your other remarks in another comment so as not to get banned.

      I didn’t suggest the occupation was a bed of roses and I didn’t suggest that it doesn’t have harsh components. However, first and foremost, let’s acknowledge that the occupation exists for a reason and that is that the Palestinians have always ensured that security concerns would be uppermost on Israel’s list of concerns.
      ——
      Also, there have been a number of occasions when Israel has officially and unofficially made efforts to end its rule over the Palestinians but has been rebuffed.
      ——–
      Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians gained greater freedom of expression and the tools with which to put forth their ideas than under their own leadership or under their previous administrators, the Jordanians and the Egyptians. The
      ——-
      Have you ever wondered, Vicki, how it is

      Reply to Comment
    35. Passerby

      Have you ever wondered, Vicki, how it is possible that under the Israelis Palestinian education blossomed?
      http://books.google.com/books?id=z2hTrLGkUFQC&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=palestinian+universities+legality+of+student+1980s+-justice&source=bl&ots=KBng-8LYFI&sig=R4HOFQPzaWk4ulj-o2_iErtGRhA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AD89T6TcPOru2gWhvMi5CA&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=palestinian%20universities%20legality%20of%20student%201980s%20-justice&f=false
      ———
      Start reading on page 19, where you will learn why Israel acted as it did in the early years of its occupation. Palestinian militancy on campuses. However, continue reading and on pages 20, 21, 22, you will see that under Israeli rule, all the Palestinian universities came into being. And at those universities, student organizations prospered.
      ———–
      This contradicts the implications of your 1971 Manasrah story in a significant way. Sure, there may have been activists picked up by the Israelis, but it is not surprising you had to go all the way back to 1971 to find this example.
      ——-
      Under Israel, Palestinian higher education flourished. I believe, although I haven’t seen such a book, that one could even make the claim that the intifada of the late ’80s could not have happened if Israel hadn’t enabled the existence of Palestinian universities.
      ———
      As for child arrests, or rather teenager arrests since we both know the vast majority of minors arrested are teens, rock throwing against soldiers is apparently impermissible. But the problem is deeper in that terror groups have used teens for their activities. If you don’t want Israeli soldiers arresting teens, I assume you’re making a big effort to lobby Palestian organizations not to use them in their activities?
      ——-
      You are, right?

      Reply to Comment
    36. Piotr Berman

      In reaction to the destruction of Rehava in South Hebron, together with cisterns build and renovated by a Polish charity (with part of work performed by the villagers), a Polish journalist who is quite sympathetic to Israel summarized the situation roughly like that: occupation law allows the local commander to do ANYTHING. This law is an abomination and actions, despicable.

      Settlers are subsidized, protected, and villagers oppressed in a grotesque manner. IDF destroys houses, roads, water cisterns and wells, while settlers living half a kilometer away have abundance of all of it. Settlers harass the village totally gratuitously.

      Settlers live to hate. They hate everybody. This week they attack Swedish Education minister who prevailed upon his (coalition) government to vote against Palestine in UNESCO during his educational trip to Hebron. I guess that school excursions recommended by his Israeli counterpart will need a good escort.

      “Though Björklund said that the woman suddenly approached him and seemed very aggressive, she never managed to actually hit the minister but doled out some punches to his guards before being overpowered.”

      Maria Kabatanya, an observer for the Christian Council of Sweden (Kristna Rådet) witnessed the incident.

      “She got the Säpo guard instead of Jan Björklund and hit him three times before she fell to the ground. She continued screaming there,” Kabatanya told Aftonbladet.

      After speaking to one of the Israeli soldiers accompanying the group, Kabatanya was told that the woman was enraged by the presence of a Palestinian among the visiting party, which allegedly was strictly forbidden on that street.

      The Israeli soldiers quickly decided to interrupt the tour as the settlers continued to act aggressively.

      “They thought it best that we stop the tour of the area immediately, which we did,” Rydberg told TT.

      Basically, soldiers enforce what settlers demand by their violent acts, EVEN if this is the ejection from the area of a foreign minister. Isn’t it insane? Of course, the fate of people who walk/drive without their highly trained security details is quite a bit worse.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Piotr Berman

      Letter to “The Local: Sweden News in English”

      This article is inaccurate. The woman from Hebron made no attempt to engage the Swedish visitor. She protested to Israeli security personnel at the site, the presence of Arabs escorting the minister in the Israeli sector of Hebron. By Israeli law, they are forbidden from entering such areas, and were later arrested by Israeli police for breaking the law.

      It should be noted that Israelis have access to 3% of Hebron, while Arabs have access to 97% of Hebron. Israelis are forbidden to enter the Arab areas of Hebron at all.

      Finally, we are very disappointed that the Swedish minister would visit Hebron with TIPH, and other NGOs, together with Arabs, but would not meet with Jewish residents of the city, and Jewish leaders of the community. Had he thought to request, even a short meeting with us, I’m sure any and all unpleasant scenes could have been, and would have been, avoided.

      We invite any and all foreign visitors to meet with us, when they visit the holy city of Hebron.

      David Wilder

      Spokesperson

      The Jewish Community of Hebron

      ——

      Other readers had helpful suggestions, like that requiring non-Jews to wear appropriate marking, like armbands, would prevent this unpleasant situation. At least nobody tried to make puns like “settlers going Wilder”.

      Reply to Comment
    38. I went back to 1969 (the year of Manasrah’s first arrest) because of your comment that until the Second Intifada the occupation hadn’t been brutal. I deliberately chose an incident of arrest and torture that had occurred close to 1967, to illustrate that such things have been going on since the occupation’s inception.
      .
      I’ve already read the entire book you linked to. Your link shows the search term you used: ‘palestinian universities legality of student 1980s -justice’. Clearly you picked on the first text that seemed to offer a positive picture of Palestinian educational life under occupation, without having read it yourself. Robison doesn’t support your idea that university life blossomed as a result of benign occupation. He argues that it flourished because of the increased politicisation of Palestinian youth, including involvement in anti-occupation activism. This is mentioned explicitly in the section to which you refer me, page 20: “Concurrent with the upsurge in Palestinian nationalism was the founding of new universities in the occupied territories and the subsequent vast expansion of the student population.” Robinson also points out that the occupation necessitated more Palestinian universities, as it wasn’t possible for people to study elsewhere in the Arab world as they had been doing previously. Nowhere in the entire book does he credit the occupation authorities with a Palestinian educational renaissance.
      .
      With this student growth, crackdowns on education took off. It was in the 1980s, during the First Intifada, that education was made illegal altogether. Every university in the West Bank and Gaza was shut down for a period of five years, along with the high schools and many primary schools (including kindergartens). I have friends in Bethlehem who were arrested for being caught in the street with books. The situation always reminds me of the words of the character Brother Mouzone from ‘The Wire’: “You know what the most dangerous thing in America is? A nigger with a library card.” This is ‘militancy’ that the occupying army has never been prepared to tolerate in Palestinians, which is why occupation policy continues to hinder Palestinian education in the Territories today. Look at Birzeit University’s ‘Right to Education’ project if you want to know more about that.
      .
      The arrest of young children is a recurrent problem in the OPT, to the point where if you go into Silwan and other areas of East Jerusalem you will find parents who are too afraid to let their children play outdoors alone. The thirteen-year-old son of my landlady has been too afraid to do that ever since he was seized by the IDF and stuffed into a jeep last year, with the soldiers insisting that he had thrown stones. He hadn’t, and even if he had the situation would be grossly wrong. Stone-throwing is always the accusation (when there is one). There has not been any recent allegation of a child being groomed for terrorist activities, but those allegations (made during the Second Intifada) were book-ended by hundreds of violations of child rights such as these.
      .
      Caring for children (especially for children who are particularly vulnerable for some reason, such as those who have learning difficulties or bad family lives) is a core part of my work. They are statistically at the highest risk of being abused and manipulated by adults and forced into crime. By providing a safer life for them we hope to significantly reduce the chances of this ever happening. Fortunately, the use of children in violence has never been a widespread problem in the OPT. In 2004 the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers compiled a report on the use of Palestinian children in violence, and concluded ‘there was no evidence of systematic recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups’. However, sporadic recruitment did take place, and the risk exists. There is an even greater risk that vulnerable children will embrace violence as adults (a well-documented phenomenon in psychological research, and exactly what Issa meant with his comments). Much work has to be done to guarantee their welfare. Criminalising children for stone-throwing and generally instilling fear into them from the moment they’re born is at odds with this ethos. In cases where minors do attempt to commit violent crime, the draconian conditions of arrest and detention under martial law are hardly an appropriate response either – you don’t respond to a brutalised adolescent by brutalising him further. Arguing that militant groups shouldn’t be recruit children (agreed) doesn’t justify the IDF in what they do, or make the occupation benign.

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    39. Passerby

      You are wrong, Vicki, I provided the link from that book precisely because it was what I perceived to be a pro-Palestinian bias and I thought that you’d find it difficult to challenge such a source.
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      Apparently, you didn’t, you simply changed the subject.
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      The universities, all of them, opened and were run during the rule of Israel, not Jordan and not the British (two of the universities claim they were functioning before 1967, but they really weren’t universities at the time).
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      Of course they were opened by Palestinians, who claimed otherwise? The point is that the same Israeli authorities which you claim control every aspect of Palestinian life did not stop this. Another way of putting it is that they permitted it. Not only that, the fact the universities flourished despite the occupation, tells us a great deal about the occupation as well, doesn’t it?
      ———-
      Did the intifada of the 1980s (there is no second intifada, that is the Palestinian War of 2000), make Israel take some steps against some of these schools? I’m sure it did since the schools became and to some degree remain centers of activism against Israel.
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      The point is that since 1967, Palestinian education, mortality rates, infant mortality rates, life expectancy, (for a long time) per capita income, infrastructure especially including running water, governance by their own leadership as well as health care programs and the current economic boom all showed improvement, in some cases very significant improvement.
      ———
      It wasn’t pleasant, by any means, but you really should give credit to the development the Palestinians have seen over these years because their rank in some of the areas I note above exceeds that of many other countries in the world including Arab countries.
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      We can keep going around and around with children – meaning, teens. A couple of months ago there was a B’Tzelem video circulating that showed the IDF arresting a boy. This made a big stink. But careful viewing showed that the boy was instigated, apparently by the videographer who was given her camera by B’Tzelem to record such events. He threw rocks at soldiers. Then he was arrested.
      ——–
      Was he a tool in somebody else’s design? Yes. But he did something that really is never going to end well: he attacked soldiers.
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      You can continue to claim that it’s wrong all day long, but you are blaming the wrong parties. The people who send the kids out to attack or to participate in attacks are the guilty parties and you should encourage them to leave the kids out of the adults’ fight. And you know as well as I that the group that found no systematic recruiting, would also not find systematic recruiting of adult terror group members. That’s because there’s no conscription or central office, not because it doesn’t happen.
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      And please don’t use the word brutalize when it’s not valid. I’m sure you’ve seen this response to a recent Guardian article making claims similar to yours:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/02/israel-not-mistreat-palestinian-children

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    40. Note Passerby has resorted to the usual device of declaring Palestinians to be a corporate group. What some Palestinians do, all do. His comments on suicide bombing are germane. As Vicky said and quoted, all sides have open wounds.
      .
      I wish Vicky’s personal comments had been acknowledged. Jews have her feeling; Palestinians have her feeling. It bridges us all. If we let it.

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