Thursday, December 15, 2011

Israeli Settler Violence: Double Standards

Everyone has double standards. It's part of being human, unfortunately. If someone who's not on our team does something dirty we scream in horror and call for penalties. If someone who's on our team does the same action, we chuckle and say hey the guy's a bit aggressive sure, but ultimately he's a good fellow.

Although this might be par for the course it's really not a good thing. It's actually something humans need to strive to eliminate actually, especially when it comes to justice. You may not have heard about this but in the West Bank Israeli settler movement there is a subgroup of settlers who take what they call "price-tag" attacks on Palestinian homes, farms, churches, mosques and well Palestinians themselves. Occasionally these are in response to Palestinian attacks but are more usually done in response to "provocations" like the Israeli closing of a settlement outpost or other political moves. Settlers also seem to enjoy such fun date night activities as random beatings of/shootings at Palestinians, destruction of Palestinian olive groves and farmlands and just general harassment such as calling your mother all sorts of foul names.

Despite the violence of these attacks and the harm they cause the Israeli government has more or less turned a blind eye to the settler movement's violence against Palestinians. Settlers have had government support. Well the problem with double standards is that quite often they come back to bite you in your tuchus. 
Some 50 settlers and right-wing activists entered a key West Bank military base early Tuesday morning and threw rocks, burned tires, and vandalized military vehicles. The settlers were acting in response to a rumor that the IDF would act to evict a West Bank settlement in accordance with an August Supreme Court rulingIn the attack on the Efraim Regional Brigade's base near the West Bank city of Qalqilya, right-wing activists threw stones at region's brigade commander and his deputy after forcefully opening the door to their jeep. The brigade commander was lightly wounded after a stone hit his head.

No arrests were made. Now it's pretty obvious or should be what would have happened if a wild bunch of Palestinians had invaded an Israeli military base to throw rocks, burn tires and vandalize military equipment. You would have been reading the next day about a bunch of dead Palestinians. Period.
This has embarrassed the IDF to an extent. After all no matter whose side they're on, no army wants people to get the idea that they can just roll up to a military base and pimp-slap soldiers willy-nilly. So they are trying to find a way to deal with settler violence-settler violence directed at the army anyway. They could care less about settler violence directed at Palestinians.
The IDF is holding discussing on ways of handling future cases of settler violence following the raid on the Ephraim Brigade base and the attack on the brigade commander on Tuesday. The army is considering taking a firmer hand against rioters targeting the IDF.
Among the options being explored is the use of crowd dispersal means such as shock or gas grenades, water canons and in cases of mass riots more advanced tools such as odor and noise weapons.
The IDF is also revisiting fire protocols in cases where soldiers' lives may be in danger which involve the hurling of stones or glass bottles. IDF forces refrained from using weapons in previous clashes with Jewish rioters and physically blocked the assailants. Ephraim Brigade deputy commander Lt. Col. Tzur Harpaz did just that on Tuesday when he left his weapon in the jeep before being hit with a stone in his head.
I see this just as chickens coming home to roost. You can not lovingly give a bunch of insane chauvinists guns, tax-exempt donations from the US, turn a blind eye to their violent rhetoric and actions against Palestinians and then be surprised when they decide that the Palestinians aren't the only people that might need to be punched in the face. Settlers across the world have often turned against their own government-whether it be Algeria, South Africa, Kenya or elsewhere. The increasing violence of some settlers and their disdain for political authority was thoroughly predictable. The Israeli political leadership finally decided to state that violent settlers would be subject to administrative detention though Prime Minister Netanyahu still refused to call them terrorists. 

I think that this will just be a road bump. In the short term both sides will do their best to contain their ire at each other and instead take it out on the hapless Palestinians. It's not in either side's interest to raise the level of violence even further. The long term question is that since much of the settler movement believes that God gave them the West Bank and no politician has any right to remove them, is it even possible for any sort of two-state solution to go forward-especially since settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem are still continuing. I say no.

1) What should the Israeli government do with the settler movement?
2) Why didn't the IDF soldiers defend themselves against the settler attack?
3) Do you think a two state solution is still possible or desirable?
4) Why is the US allowing tax breaks for settlement donations?
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