Terrorism is anything that invokes Palestinian national identity or criticism towards the occupation. However, what can be seen as the opening stage of a Kristallnacht-esque repeat against Palestinians — Muslim and Arab, specifically — is nothing too worrisome.
Illegal Israeli settlers, particularly those who attack Palestinians, vandalize their property, and even sabotage Israeli military bases, aren’t terrorists. They aren’t even militants. They are, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just a small unrepresentative group of right-wing activists who happen to be a little overzealous in their convictions.
The last few days have seen a tremendous surge of violence in the West Bank. But it’s likely this information never received the attention it deserved since those committing the violence were, in fact, Israeli settlers. On Tuesday, dozens of settlers ambushed an Israeli military base and attacked military officials and their property as a sign of defiance against the measures taken to police them. The next day, settlers hurled rocks at Palestinians traveling through the Tapuach and Rechalim Junction. Another group of settlers torched three Palestinian-owned vehicles — two trucks and one car — just outside of Nablus. Meanwhile, arsonists set fire to a historical mosque in central Jerusalem after vandalizing it with anti-Islam graffiti. To top this off, settlers clashed with police after authorities attempted to arrest suspects in connection with the previous round of violence.
Israel was quick to identify these attacks as part of the growing “Price Tag” movement, but Netanyahu’s administration was split over how to label the settlers behind the destruction. Before anyone else could give it much thought, Netanyahu rejected the idea of labeling them terrorists and instead opted to refer to them as extremist right-wing activists. His logic: they are a small group of individuals whose actions aren’t necessarily mirrored by other settlers.
So, even though these settlers promote anti-Islam, anti-Arab, and thus anti-Semitic bigotry by razing mosques, destroying Palestinian property, and threatening Palestinian civilians with lethal weaponry, they are only to be identified as part of an overly-dedicated activism network that is smaller than one might assume. Not only are they above international law by illegally colonizing occupied land, but they are also free to sidestep all basic civility in the name of religious fundamentalism.
Clearly, then, the sanctity of all Israeli settlers must be preserved at all costs, even if it means institutionalizing the animalism that inspires these people.
This is exceptionally ironic. The entire Gaza Strip, with its population of over 1.6 million, was pounded in 2008-2009 for twenty-two straight days on the basis that each Gazan father, mother, and child was, by default, a terrorist.
Palestinian fishermen who commit no crime besides simultaneously being Palestinian and attempting to feed their families are labeled terrorists and are regularly arrested at sea.
Jamal Fayid, a paralyzed man sitting inside of his home, was considered a terrorist when the Israeli military collapsed his home on top of his immobile self in Jenin in 2002.
The term “terrorist” is thrown around so loosely that it’s unsurprising the Israeli government can’t identify authentic terrorism when it stands inches from its face.
Amidst this latest round of hatred perpetuated entirely by illegal settlers, Israel’s government has set a precedent. Terrorism is anything that invokes Palestinian national identity or criticism towards the occupation. However, what can be seen as the opening stage of a Kristallnacht-esque repeat against Palestinians — Muslim and Arab, specifically — is nothing too worrisome. It’s just an extreme form of activism that the world should apparently get used to.
“A good Arab is a dead Arab,” said one of the racist slogans on Jerusalem’s vandalized mosque. Next to it was “Mitzpe Yitzahar”, the name of the settlement represented by these sanctified activists.
Remember: to genuinely condemn one form of hatred is to genuinely condemn all forms of hatred.