Qusra: The demonization of ‘settlers’ and why

“The recent incident involving a number of Jewish residents of Esh Kodesh and Arabs from nearby Qusra elicited a wave of demonization by Israeli media outlets. This demonization extended to misinformation, misrepresentation of facts, omissions of related issues, and the denouncement of the entire “settler” movement.

Virtually all Israeli news outlets have accepted on face value the Arab’s claims as to the events that transpired on 7 January 2014. Essentially the stories went as follows: The IDF destroyed a structure in Esh Kodesh (later corrected to the uprooting of fields near Shilo, which did take place that morning). Following this a group of about 30 “settlers” approached Qusra with the intention of carrying out an unknown variety of a “price tag” act. Along the way the “settlers” may or may not have encountered and subsequently assaulted an Arab youth. A group of Arabs from the Qusra settlement then chased the young Jews, caught them, beat them mildly and THEY called the IDF.

Following from this chain of untrue events was the media’s praise of the Arab “elders” and local NGO activists (who just so happened to be there) that stopped a possible lynching. Yes, ‘G-d’ bless those who have done that which is normal. That it takes an Arab stopping another from killing a Jew to win our media’s praise is more than indicative of our society’s current moral standing. Even Danny Dayan—once the head of the YESHA Council—praised these ‘heroic’ Arabs. In the same breath, Dayan jumped on the bandwagon of accusers, denouncing the Esh Kodesh Jews as ‘price tag’ vandals, even likening them to ‘terrorists’.

The media, nor Dayan exercised any degree of due diligence before making their demonizing statements. Yes, the account of the Jews involved in this incident is starkly opposite to that which has been presented. However many find it hard to believe—for some reason—that Arabs assaulted Jews for no good reason. It appears true that those who forget the past are doomed to see it repeated.

The security establishment has long spoken about the difficulties in tracking down and apprehending ‘price tag’ activists. Immediately following such incidents regular media articles add lines to the effect of ‘perpetrators of such acts are rarely caught and/or prosecuted’. There are two reasons for these truths. 1) Many price tag acts are in fact carried out by Arabs and Left-wing provocateurs (as has been proven in the past in many instances). 2) Price tag acts are overwhelmingly covert, nighttime operations carried out by small groups. Due to the nature of such attacks we could go as far as to assume that the average ‘price tag’ actually carried out by Jews is done by a group of 2-5 people.

Taking into account the second fact noted above we see the following in the Esh Kodesh incident. 1) No reports of weapons, spray-paint, or other implements associated with ‘price tag’ were found on the Jews. 2) The group was as large as 30 strong. 3) The incident happened in broad daylight. 4) No Arabs suffered any injury and no allegations exist for the Jews having been armed. The Esh Kodesh residents allege that THEY called the IDF, not the Arabs. They also state that when the army arrived they were immediately accused of being present to carry out a ‘price tag’ attack. Furthermore, there is video evidence to support their claim that they were further assaulted after the army’s arrival.

A photographer from Schem (Nablus) who now lives in Ramallah was on site. He took photos of the badly injured Jews and posted them to his Facebook account as well as Arab media sites. On his private Facebook page he stated that the incident began ‘because the Jews walked onto privately owned Arab land’. He made no mention of any other cause being behind the incident (until today when he changed the photographs’ captions, all of which now give contradictory reasons).

As a result of this information it appears highly unlikely that the Esh Kodesh Jews were heading to Qusra to carry out a ‘price tag’ attack. They may have been travelling/hiking (as some claims go), or marching in protest of the IDF’s demolition work. Either of these options are more plausible than that which the media would have you believe. Secondly, while the media gladly reports on the ‘heroic’ deeds of the Arab ‘saviors’, they use this to further demonize ‘settlers’. ‘Surely the Arabs have more humanity than those nasty settlers’.

Of course these same outlets ignore that on the same day, two Arabs arrived at a Jewish community, out of breath and in a panic. They claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) police were trying to kill them. Security guards checked them for weapons and granted them refuge. Shortly thereafter armed Arab men were found nearby. They identified themselves as PA Special Forces, despite their breach of the Oslo accords that created their jobs (by being in Area C, operating, with loaded weapons). The story behind this incident is unknown. What is known is that the media has not spoken about, nor praised this Jewish act as ‘heroic’, and they do not need to. The Jews did what a human would do and there is no need for praise in that.

One of the best ways for a government, and a society to prepare for evacuations is to demonize the ‘settlers’. The IDF is sent to Yehuda and Shomron with its hands tied behind its back vis-à-vis Arab rock throwing and firebombing. Of course when they are finally given the opportunity to do something, receive some orders for action, they will gladly do it. This couldn’t and can’t happen however if their targets, their Jewish brothers, are not first demonized and made separate to them. This demonization ignores that ‘settlers’ may have served in the very same units, and protected the very same country. They are no longer Jews, or Israelis, or patriots, they are ‘settlers’ and they are bad.

We must ask ourselves what the true purpose of demonization is in Israel today. ‘Its those non-working Haredim’s fault’. ‘Those settlers cause all the problems and take all our money’. IT—whatever the ‘it’ is—has to be someone’s fault, and that someone has to be representative of a whole group who must be demonized. History teaches us what such blame, scapegoating, and demonization can lead to.

About the Author
Michael Wolfowicz holds a BA in Security, Terrorism, and Counter-Terrorism. He currently is completing a double MA in International Security Studies, with a MA in Policing, Intelligence, and Counter-Terrorism (with a specialization in Counter-Terrorism). He has been working in various roles in private security, investigations and intelligence for 9 years.