Over the past two weeks, as Israel has continued its military operations against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, the international media were busy revisiting an old angle to attack the Jewish state: the supposed escalation in violence against Palestinians by settlers in the West Bank.
On December 6, the BBC published a piece by its international affairs editor, Jeremy Bowen, which sounded the alarm on the alleged Israeli settler violence that is bringing “destruction and fear to [the] West Bank as war rages.”
“Violent attacks, including fatal shootings of Palestinians by armed Jewish settlers in the West Bank have risen sharply,” Bowen claims. “So many attacks are happening that Israel’s closest allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have condemned violence by extremist settlers and demanded that those guilty of crimes should be prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, a segment that aired on ABC News saw correspondent Patrick Reevell walk through the Palestinian village of Khirbat Zanuta, which he reported was abandoned by residents who fled as a result of attacks by settlers.
In the 9-minute package, Reevell interviews numerous Palestinians who allege they were subjected to horrific violence at the hands of extremist Israelis, including a man who claims his nine-year-old son was beaten and threatened with being shot.
Reevell states that a “surge of threats and violence from settlers” has led to 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank leaving their homes, and the evacuation of more than a dozen Palestinian villages.
Reevell also takes the time to interview professional Palestinian provocateur Issa Amro, who has been convicted of numerous offenses, including attacking soldiers and civilians, and claims he has faced near-daily harassment from the IDF and settlers since the October 7 Hamas massacre.
An article published by Vox on December 2 similarly warned that while the “world focused on Gaza, Israeli settlers and soldiers are increasing attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank,” adding that “the rate of violence has significantly increased.”
And a piece in the Daily Beast this week claimed “hundreds of peaceful Palestinian civilians” have been killed as a result of “Jewish settler rampages [that] have metastasized since Oct. 7 … Settlers have attacked Palestinian villages in the south Hebron hills with the explicit purpose of ethnic cleansing.”
But there is a serious problem with all these pieces: there has not been an explosion in settler violence or a spike in Palestinian deaths at the hands of settlers in the West Bank.
Indeed, figures compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) paint a different story.
According to the UN agency, a total of eight Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers — and not “hundreds” as has been suggested.
At least seven Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians during the same period.
Breaking down casualty figures in the West Bank compared to last year in Israel Hayom, David Weinberg, the Israel Office Director of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, pointed out that this year has also not been uniquely bad in terms of general violence in the West Bank:
From the detailed and precise statistics I received, it is crystal clear that there has not been a significant increase in right-wing Israeli-Jewish violence against Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria since the beginning of the current Gaza war compared to the period of January-July 2023. There certainly has been no uptick or ‘surge’ in settler violence in October-November as compared to the same period in 2022 […]
Overall, the level of friction/violence in 2023 is about the same as that of 2022, totaling about 1,000 incidences of violence of all types over the course of the full year.”
Of course, none of this is to say that settler violence has not been an issue over the years.
Attacks by a minority group of Israeli extremists against Palestinians, such as the assault on Huwara in February, are despicable and must be punished to the full extent of the law.
However, claims of “unprecedented” settler attacks in the West Bank following October 7 are simply not supported by data.
UCLA academic claims “Jewish settler rampages” in the West Bank have left “hundreds of peaceful Palestinian civilians dead” since Oct. 7.
Even the UN’s figures, however, allege settlers were responsible for 8 deaths & another 2 either by Israeli forces or settlers.… https://t.co/eER65KuOXQ
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 13, 2023
And while the media was busy imagining this recent off-the-scale settler violence, it continued to ignore a festering problem whose existence is supported by real evidence — namely, the terrorism that has long emanated from Palestinian West Bank communities and that necessitates the ongoing IDF counterterror operations in the territory.
But when have the media ever let facts get in the way of a good story?
As Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Israeli hostages, there were a couple of misleading narratives doing the rounds.
We explain exactly what you’ve missed. pic.twitter.com/uqEagyzJv0
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 8, 2023
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Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas
A group of ten Harvard University alumni filed a lawsuit against the institution on Wednesday, accusing it of “devaluing” their degrees through permitting and fostering an environment of antisemitism, support for terrorism, and anti-Israel sentiment.
Filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the alumni claims that Harvard has breached an implicit contract with its graduates, promising to maintain the institution’s prestige, which they allege has been compromised due to a toxic campus environment. This, they argue, has led potential employers and prestigious law firms to distance themselves from Harvard alumni.
“Harvard has directly caused the value and prestige of plaintiffs’ Harvard degrees to be diminished and made a mockery out of Harvard graduates in the employment world and beyond,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit argues that the university’s administration has failed to combat campus anti-semitism, and has consistently overlooked assaults on Jewish students and calls by students and faculty for the annihilation of Israel. It highlighted, among other things, an open letter signed by more than thirty student organizations blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas-led attack, and campus protests which included chants like “Long live the intifada!” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab!”
The suit also points to then-Harvard president Claudine Gay’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she stated that calls for genocide against Jews would only violate bullying and harassment policies “depending on the context,” as indicative of the school’s tolerance of antisemitism.
The lawsuit is part of a growing dissatisfaction among graduates over what they perceive as rampant antisemitism on U.S. campuses, according to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of legal aid group, Shurat HaDin, who is representing the alumni alongside New York-based lawyer, Robert Tolchin.
Darshan-Leitner criticized the colleges for becoming “hate centers” under the guise of academic freedom.
The lawsuit, Darshan-Leitner said, reveals the “growing outrage and contempt that graduates all across the US are feeling over the wild antisemitism and hate speech being encouraged and explained away on the American campuses.”
“This dangerous weaponization of higher education by radical faculty and students as well as the impotent administration response, all justified under the guise of academic freedom, has turned the colleges into hate centers which has greatly devalued their reputation and diplomas,” she said, adding that the suit could prompt similar actions from graduates of other institutions.
Tolchin accused the university of succumbing to “the flavor of the month, the lowest level of discourse.”
“Harvard’s seal proclaims “Light and Truth” in Latin and Hebrew–yes, Hebrew, the language spoken by the indigenous Israelites. Yet light and truth have been hard to find at Harvard. The darkness of antisemitism and the dishonesty, hate, and discrimination have cast a pall over Harvard so embarrassing that people do not wish to be associated with Harvard,” Tolchin said.
Harvard has been accused of facilitating an educational environment that is unwelcoming to Israelis and Jews for years, with the lawsuit citing annual events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” and incidents targeting Jewish students and symbols on campus.
Antisemitism expert Dara Horn, a Harvard alumnus who was asked to join Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, authored a damning essay published this week in The Atlantic in which she detailed the Jew hatred on campus predating October 7.
She noted that staff members “who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups;” In one instance, a professor continued teaching after rejecting the findings of an investigation by Harvard after he was found discriminating against several Israeli students. Last spring, a student was asked to leave because her identity as an Israeli was making her classmates “uncomfortable.”
She also pointed to courses themselves “premised on anti-Semitic lies”, pointing to one called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health”, and noted that lecturers invited to speak at the campus included some who peddled in blood libels that Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organs or that the IDF uses Palestinian children for weapons testing.
“The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised,” Horn writes. The alumni’s legal action comes alongside another lawsuit filed by six current Harvard students on January 10, claiming that the university has not done enough to combat antisemitism on campus which had become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” It also comes a day after a professor at the university, Walter Johnson, resigned from two anti-Zionist campus groups after they posted antisemitic cartoons.
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Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7
Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar sent the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) a letter on Thursday urging them to approve Israel’s submission to the Eurovision song competition, after the EBU called it “too political.”
“As you know, the State of Israel is experiencing one of the most difficult and complex periods since its establishment. We lost our loved ones, and there are women, men and children who are still held captive by a terrorist organization,” Zohar said.
Israeli media reported that the broadcasting union would not approve the song, called “October Rain,” after a number of countries even issued threats to boycott the event if Israel participates. The EBU issued a statement saying “We are currently in the process of carefully examining the lyrics of the song – a process that is confidential between the EBU and the Public Broadcasting Corporation until a final decision is made. To all broadcasters, they have until March 11th to officially submit their songs. If a song does not meet the criteria for any reason, the corporation will be given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, according to the contest rules.”
“The song that Israel sent to the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen by a professional committee made up of well-known names in the local music and entertainment industry,” Zohar added. “It is a moving song, discussing renewal and revival from a very fragile reality of loss and destruction, and describes the current public mood in Israel these days. We see now most clearly because our lives – as one, united society – manage to overcome even the greatest suffering. This is not a political song.”
Despite the news that the song by Israeli singer Eden Golan would not be approved, The CEO of KAN, Israel’s national broadcasting service, and the body that approves the song, Golan Yokhpaz, said “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.” Adding “The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) is in dialogue with the EBU regarding the song that will represent Israel at Eurovision.”
Zohar said later in a television interview “The songwriters, KAN, and the singer will have to make the decisions at the end of the day… I do think that Israel should participate in Eurovision because it is important for us at this time to be represented there, and to express ourselves throughout Europe.”
Speaking to the EBU, he said, “We trust that you will continue in your important task of keeping the competition free from any attempt at political manipulation.”
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UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories referred to Israelis as “colonialists” who have “fake identities” while quoting another Twitter/X account on Wednesday, raising questions about the impartiality of the international body.
She highlighted the following quote from Mizrahi: “free Palestine scares them [Westerners] bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities.”
” free Palestine scares them bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities..” https://t.co/N1wkOPgKJs
— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) February 21, 2024
The original post claimed that “All colonial powers work together to guarantee the supremacy of made-up identities over genuine, native ones. Because if this model breaks anywhere, it will collapse everywhere.”
Mizrahi argued that “A Palestinian state would be a major, major moral blow to white, Western colonialism.”
The tweet was met with immediate condemnation.
David Friedman, who served as the US Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021 under former President Donald Trump wrote that her tweet was “Exhibit A why the UN is a failure and why we no longer belong in that bastion of hypocrisy and corruption.”
An account documenting Hamas’ October 7 atrocities asked, “If Israel is indeed a ‘colonialist project’ Where should all the Israelis go if this project should be dismantled?”
The perception of UN bias against Israel has also been boosted by the fact that, in 2023, Israel was condemned twice as often as all other countries combined.
It is not the first time Albanese has made comments that raise eyebrows. Earlier this month, in response to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron calling the October 7 attack “largest anti-Semitic massacre of the 21st century,” she said “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of October 7 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”
Following backlash, she wrote that she opposes “all racism, including anti-Semitism, a global threat. But explaining these crimes as anti-Semitism obscures their true cause.”
Hamas’ founding charter, in a section about the “universality” of its cause, reads: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Albanese has also argued that Israel should make peace with Hamas, saying that “It needs to make peace with Hamas in order to not be threatened by Hamas.”
When asked about what people do not understand about Hamas, she added, “If someone violates your right to self-determination, you are entitled to embrace resistance.”
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