Over the past several months, the pro-Palestinian chorus has been pushing the theme of “settler violence” in the territories of Judea and Samaria, aka, the West Bank. A search using Google shows that these reports say the violence has “risen,” “increased” and “spiked” and that there has been an “upsurge” in violence by Israeli settlers. In fact, if one reviews the various websites of such organizations and news platforms, which all feed into the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the theme is a staple of their messaging. One can even read a statement from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor asserting “state-sponsored violence and attacks” that were mostly “executed with full protection from the Israeli army.”
That body, however, is chaired by Richard Falk, who has been accused of manipulating anti-Semitic memes and whose reports for the United Nations as its Human Rights Council special rapporteur were condemned in years past by the United States. Incidents do occur; no one denies that. They are condemned by the official representative bodies that represent the Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria. The questions, though, are how many are there, who initiates them, is the reported damage correct and what are the true overall statistics and context of violence from both sides.
As Jonathan Tobin, of JNS, recently observed, “There is something wrong if a few Jews throwing stones is considered far more important than the fact that attacks on Jews in the same areas is more or less the national sport of Palestinians.” He points to a double standard whereby proportionally fewer Jewish attacks gain greater coverage while “exponentially greater volumes of Palestinian violence is considered either unremarkable or somehow justified.”
Indeed, the data made available by the Israel Police point to something remarkable: The number of incidents of Jewish violence is decreasing. From 2019 to 2021, there has been a 61.1% drop in so-called price-tag attacks. Moreover, the number of indictments of Jewish extremists has doubled from 16 to 32 over the past year. That is not the picture the pro-Palestinian groups wish you to know.
Another factor that is underplayed is the above-mentioned volume of Arab violence in the same area. The Rescuers Without Borders paramedical organization is the first responders unit on the scene of incidents. They provide first aid and ambulance services. In the past two and a half months they reported 315 rock-throwing cases and 50 firebombs tossed at Jewish targets in Judea and Samaria. That is an average of eight each day. Just last night, in Jerusalem’s City of David/Silwan neighborhood, dozens of firebombs were thrown at Jewish homes.
The IDF data indicates that in 2020 there were 1,500 rock-throwing incidents, 229 firebombs tossed, 31 shootings, nine stabbings, 541 guns and rifles were seized and 330 knives were recovered.
The Shin Bet security agency recorded over 100 Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria in October 2021. In 2020, it reported almost 800 acts of Palestinian terror; an additional 424 “significant attacks” were thwarted.
In addition, it must be recalled that whereas local and national Israeli officials have strongly condemned what some have called “Jewish acts of terror,” the Palestinian leadership is quite explicit in encouraging attacks on Jews living in communities beyond the Green Line. Indeed, the severity of Arab violence, whether car rammings, stabbings or shootings, is obvious but, unfortunately, downplayed.
And this leads to a moral issue. Whereas the pro-Palestinian voices seem to justify Arab violence as either a response to supposed Jewish provocations or stemming from a “right to resist” and thus rarely is the cause they champion called into question, any Jewish act of violence by an infinitesimal minority of Jews becomes an instrument to nullify any justice in the cause of the resettling of these areas of the Jewish national home.
Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA, also writing in the JNS on December 21 (“Fake news and the UN’s secret data on ‘settler-related incidents’”), detailed not only the unworthiness of much of the OCHA data but how certain media outlets amplified a false message.
It is obvious that unreliable, insufficient, nonconclusive and unconfirmed information is feeding part of the pro-Palestinian propaganda campaign. We need more media neutrality as well as outlets that report the whole story instead of pushing dubious claims that are not fully supported by data. We need more on-site reporting and confirmation rather than an overdependence on press releases or tweets.
Yisrael Medad is a research fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.