Last week, Israel’s public security minister Omer Bar-Lev met with a senior U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem. According to Bar-Lev, the two discussed “settler violence” and Israel’s efforts to control it. These remarks caused some controversy within the Jewish state, especially given recent terrorist attacks on Jews. The next day Prime Minister Naftali Bennett responded, without mentioning Bar-Lev by name, by commenting on the need to protect the settlers. Jonathan Tobin observes:
The question we should be asking . . . is not whether it’s true that a small percentage of residents in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have engaged in confrontations with Palestinians or that some have broken the law by committing acts of violence. It’s whether the decision on the part of activist groups and some in the media to treat these incidents as emblematic of why it is wrong for Jews to live in the territories is justified, as well as why the focus on settler violence is almost always bereft of the broader context of what is going on in the West Bank on a far more frequent basis: daily attacks on Jews by Arabs, including murder.
All of the several hundred thousand Israelis who live in what the international community considers to be “occupied territory” and, by extension, the entire Jewish population of the country is somehow held responsible for the crimes of a few. Yet at the same time an exponentially greater volume of Palestinian violence is considered either unremarkable or somehow justified. If so, then it’s clear that the subject here is not so much the conduct of the settlers as it is the delegitimization of Jews.
One of the reasons for the obsessive focus on settler violence is . . . the lower standard by which Palestinian Arabs are always judged. Though those who are angered by attacks on them claim the moral high ground, the pass they give the Arabs for their far more frequent practice of terrorism speaks to a kind of racist condescension, rather than respect or concern for their well-being.
In fact, Tobin notes, Jewish-on-Arab crime has decreased precipitously in the West Bank in the last two years—while there has been a sharp uptick in terrorist attacks by Palestinians in the past several weeks.