World in View: Pogrom by Israeli settlers

March 20, 2023

From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters

On Feb. 26, the Internet was full of calls by Israeli settlers to attack the Palestinian town of Hawara, with specific threats to burn down homes. And yet, neither the Israeli police nor Israeli soldiers nor Israeli fire engines entered the town to protect the residents.

In the evening, 400 settlers entered Hawara with full intent to carry out a pogrom. By the time it was over, at least 15 homes were burnt down, several with the residents still inside, 25 cars were burnt to cinder, one man was killed from gunfire, 100 were injured (some from smoke inhalation, others from blows), and the damage to property was extensive. Not to mention the trauma to the families and their children.

Who was held responsible? Out of the 400 settlers who carried it out, six were arrested. Four were released later that night while the other two walked the next morning. No charges were pressed.

In contrast, 20 left-wing demonstrators were arrested on Feb. 25 for lighting a bonfire in a street of Tel Aviv.

No one in the army was reprimanded for failing to act on the threats to the innocent residents. Not a surprise: Over the past 17 years, despite repeated acts of violence by settlers against Palestinians, only 3% of those suspected of this violence were indicted and convicted. The other 97% walked. Even when there are clear photos and videos of them carrying out brutal crimes.

Bezalel Smotrich, one of the Israeli far-right Knesset members who “liked” the pogrom against the Palestinians, will be visiting the U.S. in March. Do not give him legitimacy by meeting with him, interviewing him in the media, or providing any public forum for him to spew hatred.

I am so grateful to the protesters who came out on the streets sending a message to the government for the March 1 “Day of National Disruption,” which will not be the last one.

I don’t want to be the constant bearer of bad news about Israel, but if we don’t recognize the inhumanity of Israel’s occupation—and try to end it—we are complicit.

—Gila Svirsky

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