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Akiva Lam
Photo: Dennis Wiselfu
Troops at the entrance to Kiryat Arba and the Jewish settlements in Hebron

Left-wing groups use settlers as excuse to disparage Israel

Opinion: Despite data showing a 60% reduction in hate crimes committed by Jewish settlers, rights NGOs call on government to act against them in an organized campaign while ignoring violence carried out by Palestinians

Akiva Lam |
Published: 12.03.21, 23:44
As a person who grew up in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, I've always wondered why the Israeli left hated Hebron so much.
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  • It is one of the three heritage sites mentioned in the Talmud - the primary source of Jewish religious law - as a place that belongs to the people of Israel undisputedly, along with the Temple Mount and Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    שלט חברון מערת המכפלה קריית ארבע
    שלט חברון מערת המכפלה קריית ארבע
    Troops at the entrance to Kiryat Arba and the Jewish settlements in Hebron
    (Photo: AFP)
    Hebron was always the microcosm of the settlement movement and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    In 2014, I decided out of curiosity to join a tour conducted by the left-wing NGO "Breaking the Silence," made up of former members of the IDF who oppose Israeli rule over the Palestinian territories, in the area around my home.
    The tour guide's explanations were focused on the years 2002 and 2003 when the Second Intifada was at its peak.
    He talked about how the Al-Shuhada Street - or as most Israelis call it King David Street - a main road in what was the old market of Hebron, was abandoned. Its shops sealed shut by the IDF in order to keep Palestinian terrorists and rioters away.
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    Soldiers guard the empty Al-Shuhada street in Hebron
    Soldiers guard the empty Al-Shuhada street in Hebron
    Soldiers guard the empty Al-Shuhada street in Hebron
    (Photo: EPA)
    At one point the tour guide stopped and asked his visitor group in an emotional tone if they remember the time when a female settler abused a Palestinian woman and called her a whore? "It was right on this spot," he said.
    Half-truths are worse than lies. The NGO's tour took place in 3% of the entire city's vast area and concentrated only on actions taken by the IDF. He conveniently neglected to mention the Palestinian terror in those difficult years, during which Hebron became one of the more volatile areas of conflict.
    These half-truths have now reached billboards paid for by Breaking the Silence, on Tel Aviv's main highway, calling on ministers of defense and public security to act against the violence perpetrated by settlers.
    These billboards are part of a well-organized campaign. Left-wing organizations over the past weeks have issued warnings about settler violence against Palestinians.
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    עימותים בחברון
    עימותים בחברון
    Palestinians clash with troops in Hebron in September
    (Photo: EPA)
    Peace Now CEO Shaked Morag spoke in the same terms about residents of established middle-class settlements as well as those living in outposts.
    B'Tselem, another left-wing NGO opposed to Israel's control of the territories, issued a report calling Israel an apartheid state.
    But at the same time, police data made public by journalist Shahar Glick showed that Jewish nationalistic crimes have dropped by 60% in the past year, and there are also 20% fewer confrontations between settlers and the police.
    Only seven nationalistic hate crimes were reported over the past year and no more than 21 confrontations.
    Violence is wrong but words and even demolition orders do not kill. Bullets and bombs do and when one side of the conflict is portrayed as violent, while the other as passive – the picture that emerges is skewed.
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    מהומות בחברון
    מהומות בחברון
    A Palestinian burns tires during clashes in Hebron last May
    (Photo: EPA)
    According to data from the Israeli volunteer organization Rescuers Without Bordersת since the beginning of November at least 80 incidents were recorded in which Palestinians hurled stones at Jews.
    There were five incidents of fire bombs being thrown by Palestinians at Israelis during the same time period and in two other incidents, Palestinians attempted to pass through roadblocks carrying knives.
    We have a painful and cruel conflict but just like it takes two to tango, it takes two sides to create a conflict.
    Unfortunately, the left-wing NGOs and other post-Zionist groups see just one side as the culprit and use their narrow perspective to disparage the entire county.
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    תיעוד המעצר
    תיעוד המעצר
    Footage from B'Tselem allegedly showing IDF soldiers arresting Palestinian children
    (Photo: B'Tselem)
    These groups ignore the fact that successive governments have turned a blind eye to illegal construction by Palestinians, while Jews have been prevented from expanding their communities, as they wait for some imagined partner on the other side to emerge and agree to a negotiated settlement.
    Left-wing groups see settlers as demons and are unable to see the violence perpetrated by the other side.
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