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Settlers confront IDF soldiers, and 'price tag' finally makes news

Clashes between settlers and Israeli forces left several border policemen hospitalized Tuesday morning. While the mainstream media was quick to condemn the settlers’ behavior, it missed the bigger story.

We have been asking here for some time why the so-called “price tag” attacks don’t get the media attention they deserve. For those unfamiliar with the term, price tag attacks refer to attacks by radical settler groups – “hilltop youth” and others, mostly from the settlement outposts – on Palestinians and their property, including: beatings, arson, graffiti on mosques, and most frequently – the destruction of olive trees.

The name “price tag” represents the twisted logic behind these crimes, which are carried out as a form of retribution by radical settlers every time a few structures or an outpost is evacuated by the army (or any similar event that is not to their liking). There are dozens of such attacks each year. Last week, for example, a shepherd from Burka was attacked with iron rods by seven men who covered their faces with shirts. The shepherd’s skull was broken. Very few people heard of this event (Larry Derfner sought to understand the reasons behind Israeli indifference to price tag attacks, I strongly recommend reading his piece).

Today’s (Tuesday) events, however, were different. In the early hours of the morning, Israeli Border Police officers were confronted by dozens (some reports said hundreds) of settlers from the radical settlement Yitzhar, just south of Nablus, after demolishing several structures in the settlement. The policemen were attacked with sticks and stones, and an IDF posts was vandalized. Despite the fact that nobody was seriously hurt, the story dominated Israeli news sites with condemnations for the settlers’ behavior coming from both the usual suspects, as well some unusual ones – Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, among others. Peace Now wrote to the attorney general, demanding that the vandals be brought to justice.

This is all good and well, but such incidents should remind the Left that, first of all, attacks on defenseless Palestinian civilians are far worse than confrontations with soldiers. It is these incidents that should receive attention, both in the media and in terms of law enforcement. Secondly, price tag attacks are a side story of the occupation – at times even a distraction.

Vandalism is unpleasant, but the occupation is carried out by the state and the army, not the settlers. It is the IDF that places checkpoints, restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement, arrests peopleincluding minors – without trial, and at times kills. It is easy to rally public opinion against the settlers – sometimes unfairly, as most of them oppose price tag attacks – but the truth is that the occupation is first and foremost an Israeli project. Opposing it means taking the (political) battle to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, not just Yitzhar and Hebron.

Read more:
Settler violence: It comes with the territory
A modest proposal for stopping settler violence

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    1. Vadim

      First of all – I hate price tag attacks, I hate vandalism and violence. These actions don’t really improve anything.

      Now –
      1. Many things are grouped under the title price tag. Some of them (like attacking individuals) is horrendous. Most of them are nothing of the sort. Most are simply graffiti. It’s important to put that into the right perspective. There’s much talk that our extremists and their extremists are the same. I don’t think that’s true.

      2. The Israeli media is OBSESSED with price tag events. Every graffiti, every sliced tire and every damaged tree are described as terror attacks of the worst kind. Given that, I really don’t understand how you claim that “‘price tag’ finally makes news”, it’s ALWAYS on the news. Israeli media hates the settlers and tries to do anything in its power to demonize them.

      Just look at the silly thoughts that IDF should stop protecting Izhar because of price tag attacks. It’s like saying the policy should stop entering a bad neighborhood because one of the patrol vehicles was sprayed a couple of times.

      3. The occupation can also we ended by reaching an agreement with Israel. Opposing the occupation also means pressuring Ramallah to finally take that path.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        “There’s much talk that our extremists and their extremists are the same. I don’t think that’s true.”

        But what kind of difference is it? Like, Italian fascists dressed in very neat black shirts, and the settlers fanatics are usually total slobs. Advantage: genuine fascists.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          No, it’s actually much more subtle than that.

          Our extremists – we’re angry, let’s paint some graffiti and cut tires.
          Their extremists – we’re angry, let’s shoot some rockets and explode in buses.

          Our extremists – we don’t trust the other side enough to negotiate, let’s try to negotiate via the US
          Their extremists – we don’t trust the other side enough to negotiate, let’s have an intifada

          The difference between the moderates is also a subtle one

          Our moderates – let’s demand the other side to recognize our right to exist as part of the negotiations
          Their moderates – let’s demand the release of murderers as part of the negotiations

          Our moderates – two states for two peoples
          Their moderates – one state for Palestinians and one state for Israelis. Jews deserve nothing.

          As you see, no difference at all.

          Reply to Comment
          • Piotr Berman

            “Our extremists” have political system that is in power and enacts their ideas, so any violence is not for achieving particular goal but for some perverse self-expression.

            Israel “exists so Jews can be anything they can be”, or “more Jewish than anywhere else”, including quite insane “pinnacles of Jewishness”.

            By the way, for all the alleged media obsession with price tag events, I did not see anything on that event outside Israel or specialized sites like this one.

            Reply to Comment
    2. The settlers are present today — if not initially — as part of an active government policy. They are present illegally, but the lawlessness is the government’s, not (precisely) their own. And what the government does is, nominally and I believe also actually, what most of the people of Israel want.

      So the target of any action to reverse settlement and end the occupation is the whole Israeli society.


      Reply to Comment
    3. JG

      So why weren’t these settlers shot when they throw stones? A stone is a deadly weapon.
      That’s what the right-wingers here pray as their mantra, when some Palestinian throw stones against the IDF.
      So…I’m waiting…

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tzutzik

      “So…I’m waiting…”

      And I am waiting for Palestinian Arabs to punish Palestinian Arab terrorists…

      Reply to Comment