Peace Now’s latest criticism of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) is a classic example of shooting first and then drawing the target, community leaders accused Sunday.
The far-left group released a new video targeting Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who used the phrase, “Where’s the money” as a slogan during the latest elections campaign.
The video included a clip of Lapid accusing the government of financing Israel communities in Judea and Samaria – including those which, he said, are unlikely to remain Israeli in the long term – at the expense of the middle class.
It then listed several items included in the government budget that relate to spending in the region, giving the impression of a government that spends billions on settlement.
In reality, said acting Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan, Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria not only do not get more funding than their counterparts west of the 1949 armistice line, but actually are given less funding than comparable communities.
“This is one of the most absurd documents that I have seen in several years,” he said. “Peace Now fired the arrow called ‘the money is going to settlement,’ and now they are trying to draw a target around it.”
For example, he said, “The video clip includes the cost of building and developing educational institutions in Judea and Samaria. For instance, if 400,000 residents of Judea and Samaria were living in northern Tel Aviv, the Education Ministry wouldn’t have to build schools or daycare centers for their children.”
Another example is Peace Now’s citation of the government subsidy for bus tickets in the region, he said. “Peace Now forgot to mention that the subsidy was promoted by the defense establishment, in order to encourage young people to travel on buses with reinforced windows instead of hitchhiking,” Dagan said.
The group also “forgot” that government money went to provide extra security on buses in the region “following the failed diplomatic agreements of which Peace Now was one of the loudest and most vocal supporters,” he said, adding, “By the way, the need to encourage people to travel on buses stems from the discrimination against [Judea and Samaria] regarding the frequency of buses and the number of lines running in comparison to Galilee communities.”
In general, he said, Peace Now is comparing communities in Judea and Samaria to Israeli communities that do not face the challenge of being a frequent target for terrorists, he said. “The truth is that communities in Judea and Samaria are worse off in terms of budget than the kibbutz or moshav communities on the front lines, like those in the Gaza belt region,” he explained.
He blasted Peace Now for suggesting that the extra money needed for security should be blamed on “settlement,” saying, “At this rate, Peace Now will come out with a report blaming the Gush Katif expellees for getting compensation for their homes, Fatah will put out a report blaming victims of terrorism for getting [extra] medical care, and abusive husbands will accuse their wives of creating a need to fund shelters for battered women.”
Dagan expressed concern over what he termed the media’s “passion” for publicizing Peace Now’s claims. “If a video clip like this came from the political right, it would get a tiny blurb at best,” he said.