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Settler Violence

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The 21st century version of the white colonialist settler state continues committing horrifying violence against the indigenous people in its way. Extremist Israeli settlers burned a Palestinian house, killing an 18-month old baby boy. And while Netanyahu and even the settler spokesmen condemn it as an act of terrorism, it’s really just a particularly sad event in a recent history of the Israeli government encouraging settler extremism and then of course doing nothing about it when the Palestinians complain. Max Fisher:

The causal chain of events is not difficult to see.

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank inevitably empowers and abets a movement of extremist Jewish settlers.

This movement of extremist Jewish settlers inevitably promotes vigilante violence against Palestinians.

This vigilante violence against Palestinians inevitably results in terrorism such as the murder of Ali Dawabsheh.

The line connecting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank to extremist settler violence against Palestinians could not be clearer. By its very nature, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank deliberately and systematically privileges the rights of settlers over those of Palestinians, even using different justice systems. And that is when Israeli occupation authorities bother applying justice at all. According to one recent study, only 7.6 percent of Palestinian complaints about settler violence lead to indictments, and only 33 percent of legal proceedings lead to a conviction.

The occupation has abetted the disturbing rise of settler violence; according to one UN report, the number of settler attacks on Palestinians more than doubled between 2009 and 2011. The forward-most outposts of the occupation naturally attract hardcore ideologues who oppose the very idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and see it as Israeli land. That movement, for various reasons, has grown in recent years; its members see it as their duty to enact violence against Palestinians. The nature of the occupation, which privileges the rights of settlers, grants them the physical and legal cover to do it, even if it sometimes also punishes them later.

The only way to stop this is for the Israeli government to end the occupation of the West Bank, tear down the settlements, and return to 1967 boundaries.

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