Monday, August 20, 2012

Did the US State Department "For the First Time Define Settler Violence as Terrorism?"

Barak Ravid in Ha'aretz writes:

For the first time, the U.S. State Department has cited violence by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank under the heading "terrorist incidents" in its annual Country Report on Terrorism.

This claim has now been repeated numerous times by foreign media (Guardian story), and even tweeted by Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch. I don't think anyone sensible would ever argue that certain "Price Tag" actions fit the dictionary definition of terror. However, is 2011 really the first time the US State Department listed settler violence as terrorism? Lets examine some of the past reports:

Under listing of terrorist attacks:
  • On October 4, arson was committed by Israeli citizens against a mosque southwest of Bethlehem in the village of Beit Fajjar, which is under Israeli security control. In addition to fire damage, the mosque was vandalized with Hebrew-language graffiti "revenge" and "price tag."
  • On October 20, arson was committed against a Palestinian girls' school building south of Nablus in the village of As Sawiya, which is under Israeli security control. The damaged building also had Hebrew-language graffiti: "regards from the hilltops," suggesting the attack was conducted by Israeli settlers.

A high-profile case raised awareness regarding settler violence and acts of terrorism. On October 7, Israeli security services arrested American-born settler Yaacov “Jack” Teitel in connection with a number of crimes and terrorist attacks over the past 12 years. Teitel was arrested for posting anti-homosexual flyers, and later confessed to a number of crimes, including the murder of two Palestinians in 1997. He also claimed responsibility for several attempted bombings, including sending a parcel bomb to a Messianic Jewish family in Ariel in which a 15-year old Israeli-American boy was injured, and placing a pipe-bomb that injured Israel Prize laureate and peace activist Professor Zeev Sternhell in September 2008.

Under listing of terror attacks:
On June 1 and 20, Israeli settlers fired three rockets toward the Palestinian town of Burin. In late July, settlers threw a Molotov cocktail into a home in Burin as well. No injuries were reported from either attackOn September 25, a prominent Hebrew University professor and critic of Jewish settlements in the West Bank was wounded when a pipe bomb, allegedly planted by radical members of the settlement movement, exploded as he opened the door of his home in West Jerusalem. After the attack, police found flyers near the academic’s home calling for the establishment of a new state in the West Bank based on Jewish religious law. The flyers, signed by a Jewish extremist group called the Army of the State Liberators, also offered USD 314,000 to anyone who killed a member of the non-governmental organization, Peace Now. Israeli Security Services continued to investigate the attack. 

2004 - The very first US State Department report.

In December, Israel convicted and sentenced an Israeli man for membership in the "New Jewish Underground," a terrorist organization that aimed to carry out attacks on Arab civilians. On September 29, a group of five Israeli settlers attacked and seriously wounded two US citizens, members of an NGO, who were escorting Palestinian children to school near Hebron. As of the end of 2004, the Israeli police had not arrested those responsible.

. Those reading  Barak Ravid's article get a false impression that until 2011 there have been different standards applied  to Israeli and Palestinians actions. However, the truth is that the US State Department has been naming terror - Jewish or otherwise - on an equal basis since 2004.

No comments: