How many violent incidents involving individuals in a foreign country would warrant the attention and repeated mention of the American State Department, the secretary of State, and the president of the United States of America? These incidents would have to be so heinous and frequent that they alter the course of global events to be worthy of attention at such a high level. The attention that violent incidents in a different country receive is often disproportionate to their actual frequency and impact.
In the first weeks of the war, President Joe Biden commented on the attacks by “extremist settlers,” comparing them to “pouring gasoline” on the Middle East fires following the Hamas attack. However, the concept of “settler violence” is greatly exaggerated and disturbing. Many people express disbelief when this issue is raised, arguing that if it wasn’t a significant problem, it wouldn’t be mentioned as often as it is by the media and the president. Others advise staying silent and going along with the narrative to provide balanced support for Israel in the war.
The truth should be defended without political concerns. There are more than 500,000 Jews living in the region of Judea and Samaria, with the majority not being ideologues or violent. Most are living in the area for comfort, convenience, or economic advantages. They believe they have a right to live in this area just as much as in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. The Jewish community in Judea and Samaria has its outliers, and some can be extreme and violent, like any other community in the world. However, this does not mean that the entire community should be vilified based on the actions of a few individuals.
The media often reports incidents of violence with little to no evidence, relying on biased witnesses or NGO representatives. The lack of evidence of crimes committed by settlers should raise doubts, but the media and foreign governments often use the absence of arrests and convictions as evidence against Israel. This narrative is not representative of the settler community or ideology and is so rare that it should be considered statistically insignificant.
The focus on “settler violence” ignores the daily Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank. While the world is making a big deal out of “settler violence,” it’s ignoring the daily Palestinian terrorism. This issue should be the subject of more attention if the world truly wants to address violence that impedes a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In conclusion, the claim of a scourge of settler violence is exaggerated and should be treated as such. If the world wants to focus on violence that is an impediment to solving the conflict, it should focus on Palestinian terrorism. The writer is a certified interfaith hospice chaplain in Jerusalem and the mayor of Mitzpe Yeriho, Israel, living with her family.