The narrative according to which the settler community in Judea and Samaria are violent is common among the left-wing parties and has reached Knesset committee meetings and even ministerial cabinet meetings. Recently, a left-wing Knesset lobby held an event headlined “Stopping Settler Violence.”
In early February, Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited several locations in Samaria, having convened joint think tanks for the police and the army set up to act against “settlers’ violence.” Gantz and his entourage have come up with the dubious notion of “violent settlers,” blaming half a million law-abiding, taxpaying, reserve serving Israeli Jews for a scattering of mostly unproven encounters that in reality are drowned out by the thousands of ever-present, incessant, murderous Arab attacks (Gantz Bullish on Prosecuting ‘Violent Settlers,’ Ignoring Raging Arab Violence).
In late March, only hours before two Arab terrorists killed two Israeli police officers and critically wounded four more in a shooting attack in Hadera, and five days after a terror attack in Be’er Sheva took the lives of four Israelis dead and injured two more, the visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint briefing with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he and the prime minister discussed ways to “prevent actions on all sides that could raise tensions” (Blinken Attacks ‘Settler Violence,’ No Mention of Pre-Ramadan Terror Attacks).
On Friday, Makor Rishon dug into the official statistics of the Judea and Samaria police district and showed that it has the lowest number of violent incidents compared to all the other districts in Israel.
For instance, in the southern district in 2019, the number of recorded violent incidents was more than 30,000. The central district recorded similar numbers. In the same year, in the Judea and Samaria district, with close to half a million residents, police launched only 4,456 investigations of violence.
When allowing for population size differences, the statistics show that only 1% of the Judea and Samaria settler communities were involved in violence investigations, compared to 2.6% of the population in southern and central Israel.
In 2020, there were 4,843 violence files in Judea and Samaria, compared with the Tel Aviv district with 23,456. Allowing for the population size difference, 1.7% of the residents of Tel Aviv were involved in violence, compared with only 1% in Judea and Samaria.
It appears that “agricultural crime,” typically perpetrated against Jewish farmers by Arab and Bedouin robbers, is also much lower in Judea and Samaria than elsewhere in Israel. In 2020, northern Israel saw 365 cases of agricultural crime; southern Israel 257; Judea and Samaria only 47.
As to the notorious “tag me’hir” (price tag) attacks against Arab property––mostly graffiti and damage to cars––in 2019 there were 36 such cases. And there has been a constant decline in those cases since: in 2020, there were only 18 cases; in 2021 only 7.
All of this did not prevent Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev from tweeting, back on December 13, 2021: “I met today with the Under Secretary of State of the United States, Ms. Victoria Nuland. The Under Secretary of State was interested, among other things, in settler violence and how to reduce tensions in the region and strengthen the Palestinian Authority.”
One had to practically check if Minister Barlev was working for the Israeli side in the conflict and not, say, the Palestinian Authority. As Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) quickly noted in a tweet about one hour later: “You were confused, the settlers are the salt of the earth, heirs of the pioneers of the valley and the mountain. The violence that should shock us is in the form of dozens of cases of stone-throwing and stabbing of Jews that happen every day – just because they are Jews, and all this with the encouragement and support of the PA. I encourage you to talk about this violence with Ms. Nuland.”
Minister Barlev responded with another infuriating and self-righteous tweet: “I understand that it’s really difficult for some of you to put a mirror in front of your faces about the fact that extremist settler violence is crossing the whole world and foreign governments are interested in the issue. I recommend for those who have difficulty, to drink a glass of water. I will continue to fight Palestinian terrorism as if there is no extremist settler violence – and extremist settler violence as if there is no Palestinian terrorism.”
Incidentally, back in December 2012, when Victoria Nuland was the spokesperson for the State Dept., she told reporters in response to Israel’s decision to add housing units to Ramat Shlomo, a neighborhood inside Jerusalem: “We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.”
For the record, Ramat Shlomo is located in northern Jerusalem, between Ramot and the Har Hotzvim Industrial Park. The area was empty before the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. Nuland might as well have complained about new housing construction in Tel Aviv.
When an Israeli minister approaches an American official who is so hostile to Israel, she gets angry when it builds inside the “green line,” the minister should defend the security of half a million Israeli citizens – not help her point them out as the cause of violence.
But I digress. The reality is that folks on the left don’t wish to be confused by facts, stats, the sciency things. They know settlers are violent, and that’s that. Like the little old lady told Bertrand Russell: “You’re very clever, young man, very clever, but it’s turtles all the way down!”
Oh, look it up…