Monday, March 14, 2011

Predator & Prey

Here's the first ms press report of this incident I happened to come across. All the others will be much the same, of course. Typically, it tells less than the full story, and, for anyone with half a brain, raises far more questions than it answers (And the papers wonder why no one is reading them these days):

"A Jewish couple and three of their children were stabbed to death in bed in a West Bank settlement in what Israeli officials said... was an attack by one or more Palestinians who broke into their home... In a televised speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed shock that the parents and three of their children - including a baby - were 'brutally murdered on Sabbath eve while sleeping'... The office of US President Barack Obama said: 'There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and their children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack'. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later put out a statement condemning 'all acts of violence against civilians, regardless of who carried them out and their motives'. Netanyahu... said the statements by the Palestinian leadership were not enough and that it must take action to end incitement against Israelis in Palestinian schools, mosques and media. The Quartet of Middle East mediators also condemned the killings and said it 'welcomes the strong condemnation of this attack by President Abbas... Colonel Nimrod Aloni, the Israeli army's division commander for the area, told reporters that troops were searching nearby Palestinian villages... Violence in the West Bank has dropped significantly since its peak during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. Tensions had arisen earlier in the week when Israeli troops fired live rounds at Palestinians after they clashed with settlers. Ten Palestinians and one Israeli were wounded in the confrontation." (Jewish couple & 3 children killed in W. Bank, Reuters,, 13/3/11)

A West Bank settlement? Would it help to know that West Bank settlements are illegal under international law? Nah... that'd make this particular crime a little too nuanced. Readers might start asking inconvenient questions about another, much greater crime - the relentless colonisation of Palestinian land - which, as surely as night follows day, is bound to guarantee some bad shit, right? Why, readers might actually start asking what Israeli settlers are doing on Palestinian land anyway, and we, the meeja, can't be responsible for that little thought crime, now can we?

And don't you just love how Netanyahu is shocked? And how Obama - who goes to water every time he's expected to stare down Netanyahu on the subject of settlements - calls on the Palestinian poodle, Abbas, to take a nip at his own tale?

Then's the 'i' word - no, not illegal this time - incitement. Netanyahu is actually saying that, if only Palestinians weren't taught how to hate the theft and colonisation of their land, they might actually enjoy, or even welcome, the process. Ain't he a gem?

Finally, notice how whenever the ms press talks about West Bank violence, it always means Palestinian violence? And notice how these violent Palestinians are forever clashing with (presumably peaceful) Israeli settlers?

Just can't help themselves I guess. I mean, if love is not exactly in the air, then at least all is calm, all is bright, right?

Until, of course, the beast that lurks within every Palestinian is inevitably and inexplicably roused and he/it goes on the ancestral warpath. As Gilad Sharon, son of the late (?) Ariel (no slouch in the settlement construction biz he), channeling ancient colonial wisdom, colourfully reminds us:

"You can put a mask on the Palestinian wild beast, such as a speaker who speaks fluent English. You can even put it in a 3-piece suit and a silk tie. But every once in a while, when the moon is born, when a raven defecates on the head of a howling jackal, or when the pita-bread with za'atar has gone wrong, the beast feels that this is its night, and, out of primal instinct, ventures forth to ambush its prey." (A raging hora on the blood: four notes, Yossi Gurvitz,, 13/3/11)

Its prey? But who are the real predators here?

"In this period [8/10 - 3/11] of 'relative calm' [as the Washington Post's Janine Zacharia put it], the Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem recorded at least 41 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in occupied Palestinian territory. This includes Omar Qawasmeh, the 66-year-old Palestinian civilian murdered in his bed while he slept by raiding Israeli soldiers and two unarmed Palestinian civilians in their twenties shot dead at the same checkpoint less than a week apart. That reports can describe the killings of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers as 'relative calm' and find them completely unremarkable is disgusting in itself. Still, it's only part of the story. Readers may know that one of our ongoing research projects at the Palestine Center [in...] is the recording and analysis of Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians. This past Fall, we made an extensive presentation of this data that sheds light on a facet of occupation almost never discussed. The presentation covered data from January 2009 - August 2010, and included over 1,000 instances of settler violence. Since then, we've undertaken the charting of settler violence over a 6-year period which will be the most comprehensive analysis I'm aware of... So what instances of settler violence were there in the period [8/10 - 3/11] of 'relative calm' that Zacharia describes? There were, in fact, over 300 instances of settler violence during this period which left over 85 unarmed Palestinians injured, 4 dead, and inestimable property damage, including thousands of torched or uprooted olive and almond trees. Among these events were over 26 acts of arson, 59 acts of destruction of property, 32 physical attacks, 20 shootings, 60 acts of stone throwing and 23 instances of theft. There were also 10 instances of vehicular attacks where settlers mowed down Palestinian civilians including a 5-year old and an 11-year old in Hebron, an 85-year old in Salfit, and this horrifying act caught on video in Jerusalem* [in October last year]." (In Palestine, everything is relative: the settler violence you won't hear about, Yousef Munayyer,, 12/3/11)

[* Go on... guess who got arrested in this case.]

PS: And while we're on the subject of predators: "Today the village of Awarta, near Nablus, is facing the second day of a severe curfew imposed by the Israeli military, following Friday morning's murder of a settler family in the settlement of Itamar. Three ISM activists - Cinda 23, Chad 25, from Sweden, and Cissy 53, from Norway - are currently trapped in the village. Anyone caught stepping outside of their house is arrested. Soldiers have said that they'll maintain the curfew until they've apprehended the settler family's murderer. The army hasn't presented any evidence that the murderer was from Awarta, and villagers have said to the ISM that they strongly doubt the murderer was even Palestinian as the settlement is so heavily guarded it would be impossible to break in. Soldiers are beating people and continuing their house raids, destroying houses from the inside, cutting off electricity, and polluting the drinking water by throwing mud in the water tanks. Thirty homes were occupied by soldiers last night. Computers and phones have been destroyed and money and property stolen. Over the last 2 days soldiers have been throwing sound grenades inside and outside the houses, and shooting in the air. The ISM activists may be arrested soon, but they intend to stay as long as possible because they feel their presence improves the behavior of the soldiers, and villagers have asked them to stay. As of 12:30pm the ISM activists are locked in a room with the children of the family that they've been staying with while soldiers search the house. They've heard an unconfirmed report that 100 village men were taken into detention at the school for interrogation a few hours ago." (Three Scandinavian ISM activists trapped by curfew in Awarta village following settlers' murder, International Solidarity Movement, 14/3/11)

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