August 15, 2011 Edition 24 Palestinian-Israeli Crossfire
The settler "price tag" campaign
An inevitable byproduct of occupation  - Yossi Alpher
The problem is far broader than even the settler establishment.

Introduce accountability  - Ghassan Khatib
This is not only a problem for Palestinians and their cause.

Israelis in Judea and Samaria must uphold the law  - Mordechai Kedar
Israelis should protect their Arab neighbors from the price tag gangsters.

Progeny of a colonial state  - Yara Mansour
How can one ask a military to act responsibly when its state continues to violate international law?

To subscribe, simply click on the link : subscribe. The following articles may be republished with proper citation given to the author and

At our website,, you will also find past editions, an extensive documents file and information about us, along with relevant subscription information.

An inevitable byproduct of occupation
 Yossi Alpher
The "price tag" campaign is a series of acts of violence by extremist settlers against neighboring Palestinians, carried out in response to attempts by Israeli security forces to implement court rulings and dismantle "illegal" or "unauthorized" settlement construction. The violence is directed at Palestinians, but is acknowledged by its settler perpetrators to be a response to acts by fellow Israelis and not to Palestinian violence. The extremist settlers are in effect saying to the government of Israel: either leave us alone to break the law and steal Palestinian land, or we'll attack enough innocent Palestinians to start a small war.

The price tag campaign harbors the seeds of far worse violence against both Palestinians and Israelis. While it is characterized as the act of a small anarchist settler fringe, it is in fact the inevitable byproduct of more than 40 years of occupation and settlement for which, ultimately, all of Israeli society is responsible.

Most West Bank settlers consider themselves law-abiding citizens of Israel who believe they have a right to live where they live. Most even declare they will abandon their homes peaceably if and when called upon by the government of Israel to do so in order to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian territorial agreement. But a significant minority of several thousands of settlers is liable to use force to oppose removal. It is this sizable group that has produced the violent, anarchist fringe of a few hundred that carries out price tag retribution against Palestinian civilian and religious targets in the West Bank. Many of the perpetrators are second- and third-generation settlers who have coalesced in particularly extremist settlements like Yitzhar, Hebron and Tapuach and are led by racist rabbis.

Some of the rabbis are the same ones who issued murky judgments of treason against then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s, leading to his assassination by a settler sympathizer. They were never brought to trial back then, and even now they are not energetically pursued because an embarrassed and confused security and legal establishment has difficulty confronting the hate propaganda of messianic religious figures citing biblical passages and sheltering among the settlers.

Extremists who can kill an Israeli prime minister obviously have no problem whatsoever desecrating a mosque in a village near their settlement, particularly when the broader "law-abiding" settler environment suffices with verbal condemnation but does nothing to clean up the swamp it has helped create. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the price tag phenomenon: the way the settler mainstream and its supporters in Israel roll their eyes and express consternation at these ugly actions by a violent youth fringe that is the obvious outcome of their enterprise.

But the problem is far broader than even the settler establishment. It is Israeli society as a whole that creates settlements and outposts on dubiously-claimed land, paves Jews-only roads to protect settlers against Palestinian anger, and proposes laws that discriminate against Arabs inside Israel. Then it acts surprised when a radical fringe of its youth interpret all these developments and events as a license to retaliate against neighboring Palestinians because that same Israeli society, in a "hiccup" induced by international pressure or a High Court of Justice ruling, decides selectively to enforce its long-abused laws on the settlers.

How in the world could we end up with anything less extreme than the price-tag campaign? Why shouldn't a small portion of these youth become confused and drift into anarchism? After all, half the country encourages them to settle empty hilltops that belong to someone else, hooks up their electricity and posts soldiers to guard them from their angry Palestinian neighbors, while the other half dismantles their shanties and tells them to leave.

Thus it is a mark of dishonor to Israel and its institutions of law and security that things have gone this far. The problem is not just the lunatic fringe of settlers and their racist rabbis. The problem is the entire occupation and settlement enterprise that has inevitably spawned this abomination.-Published 15/8/2011 ©

Yossi Alpher is coeditor of the family of internet publications. He is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Introduce accountability
 Ghassan Khatib
On the day of this publication, two prominent related developments took place. The first was Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's approval of the construction and marketing of 277 new housing units in Ariel settlement, 100 of which will be used to resettle families evacuated six years ago from Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip.

The other related development was a violent physical attack by a group of Jewish settlers against buses carrying Palestinian families on their way to visit their relatives in Nafha and Rimon prisons in southern Israel.

These two incidents are representative examples of the reality Palestinians live in under occupation in the West Bank. Israel's expansion of illegal Jewish settlements is rapidly growing and, in parallel, settler terrorism is increasing. So much so that Avi Mizrahi, the Israeli military's central region commander, referred in a Channel 2 news report last month to "incitement" to carry out what he called "settler terrorism" against Palestinians coming from a religious school in Yitzhar settlement near Nablus.

There are several dangerous dimensions to these two trends, increased settlement building and terrorism. The first dimension is the violation of Palestinian rights. These settlements are expanding on land belonging to Palestinian landowners and the Palestinian people as a whole. Second, there is a very real physical threat. The settler aggression has included destroying thousands of Palestinian olive and other fruit trees, vandalizing property, and terrorizing, injuring and sometimes killing Palestinians in areas adjacent to Jewish settlements.

The other danger of these two trends is that they undermine the prospects of peace. The only peace formula that the world is able to envisage is based on a two-state solution on the 1967 borders. Israel is building Jewish settlements in the exact territory where the Palestinian state is supposed to be established. The continuity of these Israeli illegal policies is leading to a reality that will make the Palestinian state and the two-state solution practically impossible.

This is not only a problem for Palestinians and their cause; this is also a challenge to the international community. The world must wake up to what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel is racing against time in order to make the two-state solution harder to implement.

By continuing the expansion of settlements, Israel is disregarding the Middle East policy of almost every country in the world. Nearly all stipulate that the Israeli settlements and their ongoing growth are obstacles to peace and illegal, and therefore must be stopped. The question the Palestinians are going to ask in September at the United Nations is what the international community is going to do about this intransigence.

Both trends--the expansion of settlements and the settlers' violence--come from a specific address that needs to be held accountable by the international community. This address is the Israeli government that is watching, and sometimes encouraging, the behavior of its settlers. That is why an indicator of the seriousness and effectiveness of the international community's new approach to the conflict must be to introduce elements of accountability into its relationship with Israel. Otherwise, Israel will continue and even be encouraged in its disregard for international requests that it stop settlement construction and settler violations.-Published 15/8/2011 ©

Ghassan Khatib is coeditor of the bitterlemons family of internet publications and director of the Government Media Center. This article represents his personal views.

Israelis in Judea and Samaria must uphold the law
 Mordechai Kedar
My totally negative attitude to actions carried out under the slogan "price tag" stems from my conviction that the Jewish towns (these are not "settlements") in Judea and Samaria are legal, justified, necessary and even vital for the future of Israel and the Jewish people. Nobody can accept that parts of the Land of Israel be "Judenrein"--free of Jews.

Israelis have the full right to live on their forefathers' land, and therefore cannot be considered "settlers". All Israeli citizens must strictly adhere to the law of the state where they live, especially in those territories. Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria must uphold Israeli law precisely in order to enhance the notion that Israeli law should be implemented and enforced in these territories. If an Israeli citizen acts in a way that contradicts the law, he projects a shadow of illegitimacy onto Israel's presence in these territories, thereby serving the cause of Israel's enemies by justifying their demand that Israeli citizens should not live in Judea and Samaria.

If an Israeli citizen has a problem with what the state authorities do in these territories, he should sue them in court and not use violence, especially against Arabs who have nothing to do with what happens between the state and its citizens. Those Jews who resort to violence, either against Israel Defense Forces officers or against Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria, give a bad name to Israel in general and to their Israeli friends who live in these areas in particular.

Attacking Arab people or their property--cars, houses, trees and fields--is wrong, but targeting mosques is even worse. Those Jewish youngsters, or rather, gangsters, who are involved in these attacks look religious, wear skullcaps on their heads and fringed garments under their shirts, and therefore they should be the first to protect houses of worship from damage and desecration and not burn them or defile Quran books inside them.

Unlike what some Jews do illegally and irresponsibly, Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria should enable their Arab neighbors to work in their fields and harvest their olives freely in order to create, to the greatest extent possible, good relations with their neighbors. Israelis should protect their Arab neighbors from the price tag gangsters even before the authorities or other people do, since these law-abiding Israelis want to be accepted as living legally and lawfully in these areas.

The number of price tag anarchists throughout Judea and Samaria does not exceed 100. But their illegal actions are amplified by media hostile to Israel and thus endanger the entire project of Jewish towns in these areas. The vast majority of Israelis in these towns sharply condemns these illegal and immoral actions and totally disassociates itself from these gangsters and their actions.

I share the view that this little group of criminals should be deported from the area until they learn to obey the law. If prison is the only way to prevent them from acting against Arabs and IDF officers, their place is behind bars. Israel, as a state run by laws, should not tolerate their actions and should treat them resolutely in order to end this phenomenon before it grows bigger.

The price tag criminal gangsters inflict shame on all Israelis, especially those who support the right of Jews to live in the land of their forefathers. I call upon those who can put an end to these actions to use their authority resolutely, the sooner the better.-Published 15/8/2011 ©

Mordechai Kedar is a lecturer in the Department of Arabic and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University.

Progeny of a colonial state
 Yara Mansour
The so-called "price tag" campaign is regarded as a product of the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, yet the price tag of Israeli occupation and fanatical land grabbing is much more generally aligned with the policies and practices of Israel, the state. The price tag campaign, after all, is the settler pursuit to claim as much indigenous land as possible by terrorizing Palestinians with arson, gunfire, vandalism and other forms of harassment and even death. While domestically, Israelis may see a difference between illegal settlers and the state, the Palestinian who loses self-autonomy and land ownership at the hands of the military or fanatical settlers sees only what seems to be a mutually-shared national agenda.

The phenomenon of the price tag campaign is a reaction by the settlers to the demolition of settler construction by Israel, where illegal settlers seek revenge for this destruction from the innocent Palestinians of nearby villages. By destroying small structures within settlements, one might think Israel is taking a step towards stopping the settlement project. Yet, despite the settlements' illegal status, Israel continues to include them in official "national priority maps" and station soldiers to protect these illegal pursuits at the cost of Palestinian rights and peace.

In mid-2010, structures in the illegal settlement of Bat Ayen near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar were destroyed by the Israeli military. Settlers then attacked the Safaa neighborhood of Beit Omar in a systematic effort to burn olive groves, damage buildings, and threaten the overall security of locals. When the Israeli military showed up, it arrived just as residents of the Palestinian village began to leave their homes to see those terrorizing them. The Israeli military fired tear gas and stun grenades at the Palestinians, injuring a number of residents while their assailants were protected and not apprehended.

The Palestinian village of Burin can also attest to the relationship between Israeli military and Israeli colonizers. In 2009, for example, a group of international observers saw about 50 settlers descend from their illegal settlement to attack the home of a local Palestinian, Ghalib Najjar. The settlers were carrying rifles and assaulting the 13 members of the household. When the Israeli military showed up and allowed the settlers to leave without consequence, the soldiers threatened the international observers against reporting or photographing the event. Snipers were positioned at the top of the family home, and international observers were threatened with detention.

Islam Fakhuri lives in the H-1 area of Hebron (which is under Israeli military control). He describes the collaboration between settlers and Israeli military forces: "My father had two shops--souvenir shops--on Shuhada Street. In 2000, during the intifada, the army came into our house one day and they said they wanted to buy our house. I said, 'This house is not for sale. We don't want to sell our house to you, nor to settlers.' That night, around two a.m., they [Israeli settlers] came back and set our house on fire. Two of the family's children sleeping in one room died from the fire. And then the army came back and forced us to move out."

He gestures at his home. "You see, my house is empty now. Everyone has a story like mine."

These violent actions occur almost weekly in various villages throughout the West Bank, with other Israelis calling on the military to act "more responsibly". But how can one ask a military to act responsibly when its state continues to violate international law and disregard Palestinian rights?

Whether one is looking at the disappeared villages of historic Palestine, Nabi Saleh, the Jordan Valley, Hebron, or Sheikh Jarrah (or all the places erased of their names and labeled in the language of imperialists), it is clear that what is happening is that a colonial state has birthed violent colonialists who take it upon themselves to do the traditional job of the Israeli military. And thus, to the Palestinian, both are the same.

One wears fatigues, but both carry guns.-Published 15/8/2011 ©

Yara Mansour is the media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement.