“Horrific and barbaric!” “Unprecedented Settler Rampage!” screamed headlines, worldwide, in a headlong rush to write about “violence by hundreds of settlers” in Huwara. The facts? A far cry from the stories spun by foreign newsmen whose mindsets ranged from gullible to careless to hostile. Here are some real facts:
1.“The cars that “the settlers” burned?
The large, dramatic piles of charred cars photographed in many articles, were not family cars, they were in a Huwara junkyard. Huwara has many car-repair stores, which make their living installing expensive spare parts obtained gratis by stealing Israeli cars and stripping them down.
Car-theft is a wonderful business for Palestinian Arabs in general and Huwara in particular. About 40 cars are stolen from Israel every night, according to an article published recently in Olam Katan which interviewed car theft experts in the Israeli police.
Palestinian Arab car-theft from Israel is very well-organized. Thieves know in advance exactly which cars they are coming for and where these cars are located. Having stolen the cars which appear on their “shopping list”, the Palestinian Arab thieves speed from Israel back to the Palestinian Authority junkyards, without being stopped, since the stolen car has an Israeli license plate. There the car is dismantled - long before the Israeli owner even notices his car is gone.
The Israeli police cannot deal with this matter since they are overwhelmed with dealing with the epidemic of illegal building that constitutes the Palestinian land-grab, as well as weapons stealing. Some policing experts even feel that car theft is best ignored since theft is better than terrorism. Others realize that car theft and terrorism are linked in mysterious ways. For example, a thief may deliberately crash into an Israeli car, hoping to steal the car as soon as the driver gets out to inspect the damage (Ed. note: This happened to a doctor friend.) Also, if an Israeli policeman is unlucky enough to get in a car thief’s way, the Palestinian Arab car thief thinks nothing of running over the policeman.
Finally, the hostility to Jews that Palestinians teach their children and the lawlessness nurture one another. Palestinians know they should not steal cars from each other, and they don’t. But having been taught for decades by stern, wealthy Europeans that “the occupation” (i.e. Jews) are beyond the pale, young Palestinian Arabs act that out – reinforce it – learn it – every night, by stealing Israeli cars. It’s an early stage in their anti-Jewish socialization.
2.“Hundreds of violent settlers” in Huwara? Widespread, indiscriminate violence by settlers?
Hundreds of demonstrators - yes, after two young Israelis were shot at close range along a main street where thousands of Israelis drive to and from work every day. Violent? No. Only a few young Israeli anarchists, unrelated to the demonstrators, attacked a few stores and cars. Was their action wrong, unacceptable and illegal in the eyes of Israeli law and in the eyes of their own communities? Definitely. Is it a norm which justifies coining a media term “settler violence”, which features in international diplomatese? Absolutely not.
There are half a million “settlers”. They have their toughs, as any other population half-million strong does. They don’t condone them. In striking contrast to the Palestinian Arabs, Israel’s “settlers” certainly don’t have terrorism museums, pay salaries to terrorists, post online that violence is justified morally and legally, or pass out candies to celebrate enemy deaths. And still, hostile or gullible diplomats and media use crime statistics that exist everywhere, to denigrate only Israel (double standard). Unacceptable.
Horrific - selective descriptions
3. The media was replete with lengthy graphic descriptions of “family asleep in one of the homes that was targeted”, “Palestinian man was injured in the forehead from broken glass”, “several Palestinian families evacuated”, “37-year-old man shot and killed by Israeli fire" (he wasn't), “a person was beaten with an iron bar”, “settlements whose residents frequently vandalize Palestinians land”(it is quite the other way round), and so forth.
No such descriptions accompanied the terse, sparse, laconic reports of “the Israeli who died Monday near Jericho” or “two settlers (who) were shot dead”, although these were by far the more serious casualties.
NBC News at least pointed out that they were publishing allegations which they were “not able to independently verify”, but if allegations cannot be verified – why publish them? For example, it is still not known how the 37-year old Palestinian died, but it is clear that “settlers” had absolutely nothing to do with this death – contrary to what news reports implied.
4. A famed news outlet which has been awarded dozens of Pulitzer prizes, actually reported that Jewish settlers “stood in prayer as they stared at a building in flames”. This invidious rhetoric ties Jews to a “building in flames” which the photographic evidence shows they had nothing to do with. Mystified Western readers imagine a prayer ritual which these strange Jews overseas incorporate into their violent practices. In practice, civilians worldwide would always stand clear of a “building in flames”, any normal person “stares” at a fire, and Orthodox Jews, if standing around in a group for any reason, hasten to accomplish thrice-daily prayers because these require assembling a quorum of ten Jews. Why is this even being reported?
Hady Amr’s condemnation
5.The Biden Administration’s Hady Amr “condemned” what he called “the unacceptable widescale, indiscriminate” violence by “settlers” – did that exist? Only if you have a deliberate anti-Jewish double standard. The one man killed in Huwara was not killed by settlers. The worst culprit in the violence – the Palestinian Arab who kicked off the whole row by slaughtering two brothers without provocation, shooting them at short range, was not included in Hady’s condemnation.
The many Palestinian Arabs (easily outnumbering the few Israelis) who participated in the “wide-scale violence” by throwing rocks down from rooftops and shooting fireworks which set houses on fire, were also not mentioned. Fireworks, whose main component is gunpowder, are a dual-purpose substance. They are used for festivities worldwide, but are dangerous and can cause serious permanent injury and harm to property when deliberately mis-used, as by the Arabs in Huwara.
The ZOA has noted in the past that Hady Amr wrote of himself that he was “inspired by” the Palestinian intifada, in which Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered and injured 10,000 Jews -- and that Amr also blood-libeled the only Jewish state in the world by accusing Israel mendaciously of “ethnic cleansing”.
State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price was blasted online for consoling “all the victims’” families and then condemning (only) settler violence which was “wide-scale and indiscriminate”. In fact, the main violence was against the settlers, not by the settlers, and the short-lived wide-scale night rampaging was two-sided. Yet the United States is not the only one to indulge in Israel-bashing. The statements by the UK’s ambassador (who focused on “settler violence”) and by the European Union, were no better. How do “settlers” crime statistics differ from European crime statistics? In the rush to condemn Israel, a time-honored practice of the European diplomatic community, ambassadors don’t even bother to check.
“US report accused Israel of failing to prevent attacks by settlers - true?
6. Other reports complained that many Palestinian Arab residents of Huwara were treated for tear gas inhalation. You cannot have it both ways. If tear gas was used, this means that the Israeli army was at work, quelling this two-sided riot, and to remind readers– tear gas is used to avoid injury, it is a non-lethal means of containing violence.
So what is true, is that Israel was slammed unfairly, three times. Once when foreign media alleged that the Israeli Defence Forces did nothing, a second time when foreign media published allegations that Israeli soldiers attacked innocent Palestinian Arab civilians, which they did not, and a third time when the plight of scores of Palestinians exposed to tear gas was aired in the media. One cannot contain riots without tear gas.
“Growing concern about a slide into uncontrollable violence”?
7. Don’t believe this panic-language -- there is no despair here in Israel. We are used to having problems – and we are used to dealing with them, not wringing our hands in despair. For example, the terrorist who shot the two brothers in the middle of Huwara was not, himself, from Huwara at all – he was from Shechem. Because there are still almost no Israeli civilians living in the area of Shechem (northern Shomron), the Israeli army (and ordinary Palestinian Arabs) are frequently overwhelmed by hostile terrorist thugs. Israel hopes, soon, to pass the Northern Shomron bill, which will increase civilian presence in the area. That is the beginning of a solution.
A single night of rioting in a Palestinian Arab village, Huwara, very close to an Israeli village, Har Bracha, was triggered by a Palestinian Arab terrorist who executed 2 young Israelis at close range, on a main street, with zero provocation. Both Arabs and Israelis participated in the rioting. Only the Israelis were blamed (aka double standard), by the world’s most senior journalists and diplomats (aka Israel-bashing).
The Israeli army did its job yet was portrayed in the international media as not doing its job wel. As you see above, by far the most egregious example of someone not doing their job well were the foreign journalists publishing these accusations – not the Israeli army. The local episode in Huwara, which was over and done with within a day, was and will continue to be dealt with and controlled by Israel and there is no need for panic language.
A visual of a junkyard burning at night is dramatic and frightening, especially when published under incendiary headlines, but in fact (double standard again), such events happen often, worldwide, inadvertently or deliberately, and local authorities deal with them in all law-abiding countries, including Israel, without international press coverage. The international media continues to engage in Israel-bashing, fanned by Palestinian Arabs funded by Europe, which refuses to even recognize how much damage their policies cause to all sides. Israel is entitled to its Judea-Samaria region, without which the State of Israel is not viable. “Settlers” simply refers to the half-million Israelis who make their homes in this region, which they will continue to do.
Susie Dym is spokesperson for Mattot Arim, an Israeli NGO working toward peace-for-peace since 1992