For the answer, Israelis need look no further than across the Green Line: settler terror is an inevitable consequence of the occupation and the myriad policies of the Israeli state that enable this extremism.
A Palestinian farmer inspects the remains of his olive trees after after they were uprooted overnight in an attack blamed on Jewish settlers. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / GettyImages)
As they have for numerous years, extremist settlers are again violently disrupting the Palestinian olive-picking season, which is now underway. Settlers have been attacking Palestinians on their way to pick olives and destroying trees and orchards. Palestinians complain that the settlers are operating with impunity under the watchful eyes of Israeli authorities who do little to restrain—and even less to arrest or prosecute—them.
Increasingly, occupation forces are also coming under settler “price tag” attacks (retribution for government crackdowns on illegal activities), with three undercover Israeli police officers posing as Palestinians violently attacked by extremist settler youths near Hebron. The police say they did nothing to provoke the youths, who have been arrested because they made the mistake of assaulting occupation forces rather than Palestinians.
The recent violence comes in the wake of earlier attacks against Israeli forces by extremist settlers, and a constant barrage of assaults on Palestinians. Some of these attacks have been videotaped in a manner that suggests Israeli forces on the scene stood by impassively. Attacks have also been spreading to target Christian sites including churches and monasteries.
“Price tag” violence has become part of a deep-seated culture of hatred and impunity on the part of Jewish Israeli extremists. Like the racist Ku Klux Klan in the American deep south during the civil rights era, violent settlers are encouraged by incitement from radical establishment figures and operate under a well-founded belief that the system will not act systematically or forcefully to restrain or punish them in most cases.
This atmosphere of impunity, and even encouragement, was dramatically illustrated by a celebratory sendoff at an Israeli settlement over the weekend for a man convicted of severely abusing a Palestinian teenager. The event honoring this thug was attended by local settler leaders and rabbis, and by a member of the Knesset.