UPDATE: Here is the video of the President in Tampa, Florida dodging the question of the Israeli occupation of Palestine
[tweetmeme] Two days ago there was an article in Haaretz describing the most recent ‘price-tag’ attacks on Palestinian villages. In response to Israeli forces tearing down part of an illegal settlement, Israeli settler youth attacked a Palestinian village,tried to set a car on fire and pelted its citizens with stones – leaving more than 30 injured. These attacks – settler retribution against Palestinians for governmental laws – are not uncommon.
There is no way to describe the West Bank settlers’ attack on the Palestinian village of Bitilu but as a well-planned terror attack…
These are not unusual acts. Israel Defense Forces officers report a significant increase in the number of settler attacks on Arab villages and communities following the decision to freeze construction in the settlements. The term “price tag” – once coined in reference to the IDF’s policy toward terror organizations – has long been adopted by the settlers and transformed to mean retaliation against the Israeli government’s policy.
The decision to dismantle the Givat Menachem outpost is commendable, although it is not sufficient in itself to implement Israel’s commitment to take down all illegal outposts. Still, one cannot but be amazed by the IDF Spokesman Office’s watered-down response to the settlers’ terror attack. “This activity is improper legally, morally and normatively,” the spokesman said. “Central Command is determined to take full, legal action against the rioters.” Is this merely improper activity? Would the IDF describe a similar act this way if it were carried out by Palestinians against a Jewish settlement? Wouldn’t the army impose a closure and immediately make arrests, not to mention shoot the perpetrators?
What struck me was that this open and honest assessment of settler violence happened in Israel. Taken with the Israeli/Palestinian protests in Sheikh Jarrah, Bil’in and elsewhere around the West Bank and Israel show that there is resistance to the active or passive (such as not legally pursuing settler violence) discrimination against Palestinians by the government.
The fact that criticism of Israeli behavior is more acceptable in Israel than America shows a severe misunderstanding of the issues that are plaguing Israel and Palestine. Indeed, the President must dodge a question about Palestinian suffering and turn his response into a promise of support for Israel. Fortunately, American media is picking up on Israel’s campaign against non-violent protesters. But, as Ibn Ezra points out, these stories are productive, but only focus on one side of the story. Sure, it is helpful to have the world see Israel suppress protests, but we can’t miss what they are protesting. Repression and terrorism are terms that Israeli use to describe the treatment of Palestinians. In the US, we see Israel signaling a ‘tougher line.’
Could this type of op-ed appear in the US? Can you imagine an op-ed in the New York Times or Washington Post that called settler violence what it is – terrorism?