[Editorial note: Below is an article from today's
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reporting on the latest instance of
Israeli settler violence. Almost every day we at Tikkun receive
information about attacks on Palestinian civilians by
settlers, not just in Hebron but all through the West Bank, or
humiliation and worse of Palestinian civilians at the "check
points" inside the West Bank that limit travel of Palestinians
between their own cities--on the grounds of protecting the settlers
(these are not checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank, but
inside the West Bank itself). While a handful of Israeli
members of Knesset call for punishment of these settlers, that very
very very rarely happens. Normally, we don't send these accounts on
to you for 3 reasons: a. many of our readers don't want to get this
information on a daily basis, either because it is too depressing,
which it is for us too, or because they want to continue to
ignore and deny the daily realities of the Israeli Occupation
b. doing so makes it appear as if we are "anti-Israel" whereas in
fact we are pro-Israel and also pro-Palestine, and we unequivocally
condemn violence done by Palestinians against Israeli civilians or
even against settlers, no matter how that violence is presented as
part of their liberation struggle, and c. doing so suggests
that these are the worst offenses against human rights in the world,
whereas they are not, witness the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the
repression of Chechny by Russia and of Tibet by China and the daily
murders of civilians by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet many
people, including progressives and liberals in the U.S.,
underestimate the level of daily violence against Palestinians
brought to them through the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and
the periodic raids of Israel into Gaza, so when talk emerges about
how to handle the settlers in any peace talks, there is little
understanding of how disastrous these forces are, and hence little
understanding of what it means when our newspapers, which rarely
cover the violence against Palestinians, report that the Israeli
government has agreed to expand settlement x or y; or when a
religious political party says it opposes dismantling of
settlements; or when a majority of Israelis indicate that they'll
support political parties like Likud that actively champion
the settlers. Yet Shimon Peres, who witnessed the murder of
peace-oriented Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995
understands this very well, so as reported yesterday, now Israeli
President Shimon Peres told members of the British Parliament that
"Israel would have difficulty dismantling West Bank settlements
without causing a civil war in Israel." And so from the standpoint
of many Israelis, the choice is between peace with Palestinians and
a civil war with settlers, on the one hand, or no peace and
continued war with Palestinians in order to accommodate the
settlers. For those of us who support non-violence, these are both
unattractive options, and help explain why we've advocated for a
deeper level of transformation to avoid violence--the Strategy of
Generosity we have outlined in Tikkun, challenging the militarist
consciousness in the U.S. and Israel which assumes that peace and
security requires domination of someone by someone else. It is not
us who are the utopians, but those who think that security on the
planet will be achieved through domination, though that strategy has
been tried for thousands of years and continues to
fail.--Rabbi Michael Lerner]
urge legal action as settler violence erupts in
By Amos Harel, Haaretz
Correspondent Nov 20, 2008 Tel Aviv,
Violent clashes erupted early Thursday
between settler activists and Israeli security forces at a disputed
house slated for evacuation in the West Bank city of Hebron,
prompting Israeli and Palestinian officials alike to call for legal
The High Court on Sunday ordered the settlers to
vacate the house, after they forged ownership documents. The
settlers were given until noon Wednesday to evacuate voluntarily, a
deadline that expired without heed.
The Defense Ministry said
it would avoid the use of force in the evacuation and would try to
urge the settlers to leave on their own accord.
Wednesday, the house was still not evacuated and the settlers'
protests grew hotter throughout the city.
protests, some settlers began to attack Palestinian locals while
others wounded an IDF soldier by spraying turpentine at him as he
tried to stop them from throwing stones at
Activists also punctured the tires of police
and military jeeps stationed nearby.
The settlers also
scribbled graffiti around Hebron, including spraying 'Mohammed Pig'
on the walls of a local mosque and on Palestinian homes
Mouatassem Daana, a Palestinian resident of Hebron,
said he saw settlers gathered near the building "writing demeaning
graffiti on the wall of the mosque insulting the Prophet Mohammad"
and breaking windows.
An IDF spokesman said settlers also
vandalized a cemetery near the mosque. Solders were "working to
remove the graffiti and repair the damage" to the mosque and a
cemetery, the spokesman said.
"We take such incidents
seriously," he added.
MK Otniel Schneller, a Kadima lawmaker
opposed to the evacuation, said police and security forces must find
those in violation of the law and try them as needed.
lawmakers Zahava Gal-On and Avshalom Vilan called on the defense
minister to take action against the violent activists: "The time has
come for these settlers to understand that Hebron is not the wild
west," said Gal-On.
Hebron's Palestinian governor, Hussein
al-Araj, urged Israeli authorities to halt the settler violence and
carry out the court decision.
"What happened is
unacceptable," he said. "The Israelis have to enforce the law and
stop the suffering of the Palestinians who are living next to
settlers. They have to take the settlers from this house and protect
The Judea and Samaria Police Department
was to hold consultations on Thursday to determine how best to deal
with the settlers' violence.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was
also expected to meet with security officials for consultations on
carrying out the evacuation in accordance with the High Court
However, government legal aides said Wednesday that
despite the three-day deadline, the Israel Police and Israel Defense
Forces actually have more than 30 days to comply with the High Court
Government legal aides are expected to
submit their interpretation of the court's ruling Thursday to
"I call on everybody involved [in the affair] to act
responsibly and in accordance with the state's essence and judicial
institutions," Barak said Wednesday in an interview with Army Radio.
"It's the fundamentals of the country and we will insist on
The security establishment originally believed that the
court's ruling required it to evacuate the settlers within a month.
However, because the occupation of the house began a year ago, it is
not deemed as "new" and the state is thereby not required to abide
by the law concerning recently discovered squatters that they be
vacated within a month's time.
The Defense Minister's bureau
said it has begun talks with settler leaders regarding the
evacuation of the house despite slim chances of reaching a deal to
The house, which has come to be known as either
the "Peace House," "Beit Hameriva" ("The House of Contention") or
"The Brown House," is located near the Worshipers Way, a strategic
locale from the settlers' perspective.
The acquisition of
additional houses nearby would help settlers strengthen their
position in the area.
Hebron has been a flashpoint of
Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent years. Some 650 settlers live
in fortified enclaves guarded by Israeli troops in the heart of the
city of 180,000 Palestinians.
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