The frightened eyes and bloody noses of a few pogromchiks really do it for us. Suddenly, the army disclaims any connection to them, the defense minister describes their actions as terrorism that must be eliminated and the media rehash the item time and again. We have become so addicted to power that a pogromchik who was beaten up in Qusra makes us feel angry and disgusted. If those goons had just attacked a farmer, uprooted trees or torched cars, it would have been business as usual: The army would have invoked its right to ignore it, stand aside and use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the Palestinians under attack. The police would have deliberately dragged its feet in the investigation and closed the case. The reporter would have wondered whether to bother writing a report like the 107 other reports he or she wrote over the past year, and the editor, concerned about space, would have agonized over whether to run the story at the bottom of page 5 or put up a quick item on the website. And the readers? They would have skipped it.
Qusra in their sights
Here are some bleak statistics: From January 3, 2011 to September 15, 2013, the pogromchiks who went down from the outpost of Esh Kodesh perpetrated 28 attacks of various kinds. Fifteen of them involved beating and shooting, nine involved damage to olive trees, one case involved the killing of animals, one mosque was torched, one car was set ablaze, and one case involved threats. Of the 28 attacks, two were directed against the village of Jalud, one against Qaryut and — get this — 25 against Qusra, according to the list kept by Yesh Din. In seven cases, no complaint was filed. The police lost three complaints that were filed (against damage to olive trees) and closed 12 cases, 11 on the pretext that the offender was unknown. Another case is under investigation, the events of still another are unknown, and four cases are “being studied by the prosecution.”
The attack that took place on October 21, 2011 is still under the prosecutor’s consideration (as reported in Haaretz on August 18, 2012).
Israeli activists from Combatants for Peace joined the first olive harvest in Jalud on land that the residents had not been able to cultivate for almost a decade because of Jewish terrorism. Four masked men and one armed man who wore no mask went down from Esh Kodesh shouting, “Get out of here! This is our land! You were not here for ten years and did not cultivate the land. Now it belongs to us and we are cultivating it.” A stun grenade was suddenly thrown at the olive-pickers, gunshots were heard and stones were thrown from two directions. Then the masked men began attacking with clubs, according to A., 61, who thought they might go easy on him because he was an older man and a Jew. “At first they thought I was an Arab … and I tried to tell them, ‘Calm down, guys, I’m an Israeli, there’s no need for violence.’ The next thing that happened was that a fellow wearing a black mask grabbed my camera and tried to take it away from me. I argued with him, saying, ‘Have you no shame? Why are you using violence? You’re young enough to be my son.’”
No sooner had he uttered the words than he felt “a strong blow on my head with the club, and then I felt that my head was bleeding profusely. I fell to the ground and they kept hitting me with the sticks all over my body.” They stole both his cameras, his recordings and his glasses. Later he would realize he had two broken ribs. “I screamed with all my might, ‘Help! Stop it!’ but nobody heard me.”
But then someone heard: soldiers, who fired tear-gas grenades at the wounded olive-pickers and their escorts.
We should not shy away from writing the cliché: Imagine what would have happened if the attackers had been Palestinian. The army, the Shin Bet, the Border Police and the Israel Police would not have rested; within a week at most, they would have taken people into military court to have their remands extended until the end of proceedings. The headlines would have screamed “Terrorists.” The news anchors would have uttered the full name of each attacker with loathing.
Ladies and gentlemen! Stop with the nonsense. It is no accident, and there is no helplessness or error here. There is a single hand, and a division of labor among all those concerned. Thanks to the bullies, the valley of Shiloh is ours, with its vineyards and boutique wines. Thanks to the army’s duty to protect criminals and the Civil Administration’s duty to develop the settlements, the Palestinian villages have lost their land and the young people are leaving. Thanks to the pogromchiks, the organized robbery of land being perpetrated by the State of Israel on both sides of the Green Line is regarded as “law.”
Different means, same intention
Self-righteous ones among us, take note: Soldiers who stand idly by while masked Jewish men break people’s ribs; police officers who do not investigate incidents; a prosecution that does not budge, brigade commanders who keep activists of the Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish partnership from protecting shepherds and farmers from the cowboys of the southern Hebron hills, a lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office who states that the Palestinians are at fault for not having protected their olive trees from price-tag attacks – the difference between you and the thugs is merely in the means of expulsion, not the intention.
Postcript: For some reason, recent media reports have created the impression that the southern part of the West Bank is “quiet.” I had hoped to correct that impression by enumerating a series of new violent attacks whose purpose is identical to that in the northern West Bank: to expand the “legal” settlements and drive Palestinians off their land by making their lives intolerable until they emigrate. But space is short, and the list is as long as despair.