Trending Topics:

Israeli government is too involved in settler movement to take on Jewish extremists, says leading Palestinian legislator

on 24 Comments

Every day Aida Touma-Sliman is briefed about discrimination or worse—acts of violence—against her constituents. She is a member of Knesset with the Joint Arab List, and the first Arab woman to head a parliamentary committee. “In the last few years there were 17 mosques and churches burned down or attacked by right-wing activists or racists,” she said in an interview with me. “These are the extreme cases, but every day we hear about cases by the seashore, or at the nightclubs—or of hotels warning their visitors that they might have Muslims [guests].”

Yet when it comes to criminalizing and preventing Jewish extremist violence, like the firebombing of a West Bank family last July killing three—Ali Dawabshe, 18 months old, and his parents Sa’ad Dawabshe and Riham Dawabshe—Knesset member Touma-Sliman’s hands are tied.

“We’re are not able to influence these decisions,” she said of harsher regulations on violent acts now circulating through Knesset. Although her party, the Joint Arab List, is the third largest in Israel’s government, it does not have many allies. “We are in the margins of the margins of the opposition,” said Touma-Sliman. She expressed dissent last week when an anti-terrorism bill that was initially proposed to curtail settler violence was re-drafted into legislation targeting critics of Israel’s occupation and supporters of Hamas. Under the latest version, minors as young as 12 can face charges for donning tee-shirts bearing the name of the militant Islamic group that runs the Gaza Strip. No special measures were included to address the issue of settler violence.

That has not stopped Touma-Sliman from sending letters to ministers or urging action from the parliament floor, albeit amid boos and jeers from her peers who called her a traitor. “We knew from the beginning this will not be a law against settlers. All of the laws are issued against Palestinians or supporters to the end of the occupation. We are under no illusions.”

Of the Israeli politicians who decried the fire in Duma as an act of “Jewish terrorism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu included, Touma-Sliman said the words were hollow platitudes that have not yielded policy changes. “While condemning the burning alive of a whole family is not something very difficult to do, the right thing now is to point out what brought us to this situation,” she said. “What I want the government to do, it seems to me they are not willing to do.” She referred to the statement by Israel’s defense minister last week that he knew who had committed the Duma murders but would not indict them for now because it would reveal the identities of government informants.

Touma-Sliman said Israel has tools at its disposal such as ordering a closed hearing, which can conceal sources. “They can cover the identify of those who gave them the information. In my opinion this is only an excuse for not holding them responsible, or putting them in trial for their crime.”

She said his unwillingness to go ahead with charges was “thus authorizing the next murder” of a Palestinian.

“We have been hearing about different attack of the Palestinian villages for some time, and there were different reports of attempts to burn houses. In the past it was fields—olives fields. They [Jewish extremists] burned hundreds of fields, thousand of olives trees that dated back hundreds of years. But when it’s a family, it’s different.”

The morning after the Duma attack, Touma-Sliman traveled to the Palestinian village outside of Nablus with a Knesset delegation from the Joint Arab List. “When I visited I could smell it still, there was a very odd smell, a bad one. And it looked like there was skin that was burned. To tell the truth, I was overwhelmed, shocked, angered and saddened all at once,” Touma-Sliman said. The group visited with women and youngsters from the Dawabshe family

“I looked at the eyes of the children, and the children were really traumatized. How can people be so cruel, how can people be so criminal?” she said.

Hours after the attack that left baby Ali dead and his parents in critical condition (they died in the following weeks), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would seek out the “Jewish terrorist” behind the attack. A graffiti mark bearing the Hebrew word “revenge” indicated the crime was nationally motivated, and early reports suggested settlers were the assailants.

Touma-Sliman is not convinced the pronouncements will lead to substantive changes in how Israel responds to settler violence. The United Nations recorded settler violence increased fourfold since 2006, yet Israel currently has only one undercover unit responsible for weeding out violent settlers. The outfit is widely considered to be underfunded as a result of lobbying from settler groups. Three years ago members of that unit were beaten with sticks by settlers who mistook them for Palestinian shepherds. When the United Nations statistics on settler violence were published, former IDF commander of the West Bank, Gadi Zohar, told The National, “There is not enough pressure from the prime minister, the defence minister, the interior minister to prevent this.” 

Touma-Sliman blames the growth in settler violence on Israel’s government. Her view is that the settler voice is mainstreamed in her country’s politics.

“First of all I think the cause of all of these crimes is the continuation of the occupation and the ideology that leads to a situation where you don’t the see the other, and you confiscate their land, and the government lets them occupy the land,” she said. Two weeks before the Duma attack, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked appointed a former member of the Jewish Underground who had plotted to blow up Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque to a committee against incitement, Touma-Sliman pointed out. Haggai Segel served a three year sentence for his crime, during which he authored a book explaining his view that violence—against both the state of Israel and Palestinians—is legitimate when working towards a nationalist cause.

“You have ministers sitting in the government that are representing the settler movement,” Touma-Sliman said, both ideologically and as constituents. “This government is too much involved [in the settler movement],” she went on. “This government has embraced the settlers, including the most radical among them.”

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

24 Responses

  1. Citizen on September 18, 2015, 12:24 pm

    It’s so weird, reading this, right after watching the GOP debate on CNN, where all candidates parroted Netanyahu except Rand, Trump, Carson.

    • K Renner on September 18, 2015, 1:14 pm

      The GOP “debate” if you want to call it as much. The Donald being involved especially lowers the clownshow to a whole new level.

  2. kalithea on September 18, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Hey guys, sorry for the OT, but you know what I’d like to see on your main page: A CLOCK.

    In solidarity with young Ahmed Mohamed:

  3. BI on September 18, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Of course they are involved: subsidies, military protection, blind eye on vigilante murderers, separate roads, etc. They carve out a cruel Apartheid state and complain when countries like Iceland vote to make Israeli products illegal [..]

    • Accentitude on September 22, 2015, 3:54 am

      Update: Iceland back out of it’s decision to boycott Israeli goods. The power of the dark side is strong, apparently.

  4. Rudolph on September 18, 2015, 1:20 pm

    Some history: “Terror was not the only reason that the State of Israel finally came into being, but the Irgun campaign was a critical factor in driving the British out of Palestine. Begin was the first terrorist to grasp the value of publicity in promoting his cause to an international audience. The transformation of terrorism from a primarily local phenomenon into a global one came about in large part because of the success of his tactics. He pioneered techniques that would become basic terrorist strategy, such as simultaneous bombings and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He proved that, under the right circumstances, terror works. Many years later, American forces would find a copy of Begin’s memoir The Revolt in the library of an al-Qaeda training camp. Osama bin Laden read Begin in an attempt to understand how a terrorist transformed himself into a statesman.”

  5. Ira Glunts on September 18, 2015, 2:56 pm

    Haggai Segal (חגי סגל) (@haggai_segal), the convicted Jewish terrorist mentioned above, has been a “respected journalist” in Israel for many years. He is currently the editor of Makor Rishon, a religious settler paper owned by Sheldon Adelson. In a fairly recent interview, he refused to repudiate his terrorist acts. Segal’s crimes included permanently maiming two Palestinian mayors and blinding an Israeli who attempted to defuse a planted bomb. (The Israeli, by the way, was a Druze or Bedouin.)

    Today Segal claims that despite his right wing politics he has many friends in the “Israeli left.” His twitter feed has a following of many mainstream journalists.

    His son is Amit Segal is a well-known television journalist.

    • JLewisDickerson on September 18, 2015, 11:27 pm

      RE: “Haggai Segal (חגי סגל) (@haggai_segal), the convicted Jewish terrorist mentioned above, has been a ‘respected journalist’ in Israel for many years.” ~ Ira Glunts

      MY REPLY: But . . . but . . . but, does Haggai Segal have a public square named after him?
      P.S. NOTICE that Netanyahu wore a yarmulke and even “trotted out” Sara to add sincerity for this occasion!

  6. Kay24 on September 18, 2015, 4:08 pm

    It seems the Saudi King has been clear with Obama during a phone call:

    “Saudi king urges Obama to stop ‘Israeli attacks’ on Temple MountIn phone call with US president, Salman condemns ‘Israeli escalation,’ calls on Washington to intervene, back UN action

    According to the Saudi Press Agency cited in a report on the Saudi-run al-Arabiya network, however, King Salman expressed to Obama his strong condemnation of the “Israeli escalation” at the Temple Mount compound which has been the site of clashes between Palestinians hurling rocks and firebombs, and Israeli forces in recent days.

    The king called on the US president to stop “the Israeli attacks, including intervening with the UN Security Council to protect the Palestinian people,” according to the SPA report cited in Haaretz.”

    We can safely predict that Obama/Congress/Leaders/Media will do sweet nothing.

    • zaid on September 18, 2015, 5:11 pm
      • diasp0ra on September 18, 2015, 5:25 pm


        Sounded a bit wishy washy to me.

        If I were uninformed on the situation, and read that UNSC statement, I’d be under the impression that both sides are on equal ground and both of them just need to chill to restore peace. It’s left in the passive voice.

        Not that one side is the occupier that is actively stopping people from practicing freedom of religion, and that anything that happens after is retaliation.

        They can’t exactly call for full respect and application of international law when Israel’s presence in the Haram is a breach of international law in the first place.

    • WH on September 18, 2015, 6:39 pm

      Naturally I agree with his urging, but this abominable tyrant and his barbaric plutocracy should stop massacring Yemen’s people and destroying their country before he says anything to anyone about stopping aggression.

    • inbound39 on September 19, 2015, 6:46 pm

      I cannot fault your thinking Kay. I feel the same and America will look back on all this in years to come and feel nothing but shame. If America remains static over this situation and does nothing when it holds the very key to ending it by withdrawing aid and weaponry to Israel and cancelling F-35 contracts and delivery then America will never wash the stain out. It beggars belief that America allows it to continue. Apparently American politicians being led round by the nose by the Israel Lobby and Netanyahu is far more important. America is showing the World it is spineless and callous and in so doing is endangering its own people.

      • Kay24 on September 19, 2015, 10:17 pm

        I agree with all you say, but somehow I cannot imagine Americans feeling shame for anything they have been responsible for, including the deaths of thousands, more recently, in Iraq.
        Most Americans can be apathetic, and hardly remorseful over the tragic mistakes of the past.
        In fact we cannot learn from it.

      • RoHa on September 19, 2015, 10:22 pm

        From what I know of the F35, I would be very pleased if the Israelis replaced all their current planes with F35s.

      • Marnie on September 20, 2015, 12:32 am

        Respectfully inbound39, I think you have it backwards. I don’t believe the zionist enterprise has the power we’ve been led to believe it has. If the US and the rest of the world wanted peace in the ME, we’d have it, but they obviously have too much invested in the chaos and death. Don’t forget they have a population in lockdown to test their weapons on. America is showing the world its treachery and wickedness; the zionists are the beneficiaries and the Palestinians continue to suffer because of this evil alliance. And the American people are also victims here; there is no democracy in the US, only an oligarchy. God help all of us.

  7. bopfromthedarkside on September 18, 2015, 4:20 pm

    How could we expect Israel to stop the settlers? As President Rivlin says, “It’s time to admit Israel is a sick society.”

    • Marnie on September 19, 2015, 2:01 am

      “Israel is a sick society”. Seven days a week the Israel History channel runs documentaries re: Hitler, the nazis, ww2, etc. A few days ago I saw a story about a european young woman who, along with her “Muslim” boyfriend, murdered the girl’s mother, stabbing her over 20 times. This young woman had been watching hours and hours of ISIS beheadings and apparently wanted to join them. Does watching hours and hours of pornography do harm to viewer? Does viewing hours upon hours of documentaries about harm the viewers? The “sick society” Rivlin talks about seems to be trying to indoctrinate the population, or at least the youth, into the nazi way of dealing with “problems”.

  8. Kay24 on September 19, 2015, 7:02 am

    IDF could be considered terrorists too:

    “BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — More than 1,991 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces and extremists since 2000, according to figures released by an international rights group Thursday.
    Ongoing settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank are wedging Palestinian children and their families against “expanding and often violent Israeli settler communities,” Defense for Children International- Palestine (DCIP) research reported.
    Such expansion is increasingly placing Palestinian children in a “hyper-militarized environment,” where they are facing higher frequencies of disproportionate violence from Israeli forces protecting settlers in the area, as well as from the settlers themselves.”

    • Accentitude on September 22, 2015, 4:03 am

      “Could be”? They are terrorists. The IDF was created through a merger of Jewish terrorist groups in the early days of the state of Israel. It’s founding fathers were literally terrorists.

  9. Rashers2 on September 20, 2015, 9:13 am

    An excellent piece and, sadly, reflective of the utter absence of will to implement any form of justice for those legitimately in the Occupied Territories. One point: “Although her party, the Joint Arab List, is the third largest in Israel’s government, it does not have many allies.” The JAL is NOT part of the GoI; it is the third-largest party in the Knesset; and might as well be the PRINCIPAL opposition since Herzog has thrown any conscience some of his members may have possessed under a `bus and busies himself out-Mileilkowsky-ing Mileikowsky when it comes to popular “security” issues. In fairness, the consecutive quote from Aida Touma-Sliman makes clear that the JAL is in opposition. A minor grouse but MW owes it to itself not to emulate the sloppy journalism, elliptical logic and conflations of MSM coverage of I-P. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a piece from AP and upbraided the M-E desk on its sloppy/tendentious journalism (fences along the West Bank of the River Jordan and in the Golan are NOT “protecting Israel’s frontiers” because Israel doesn’t HAVE a frontier in the Golan Heights and the majority of the West Bank is in Palestine). Leave the inaccuracies to the Hasbara trolls and the detractors.

  10. lysias on September 22, 2015, 11:16 am

    The Guardian: Brazilians protest Israel’s nominee for ambassador over settler ties: Brazilian government won’t officially comment on process but Dani Dayan is a former settler leader who was approved by Binyamin Netanyahu on 6 September:

    Israel has defended its choice of ambassador to Brazil, following reports that President Dilma Rousseff has rejected the nomination of Dani Dayan over his links with the settler movement.

    Speaking on Monday, Tzipi Hotoveli, the deputy minister for foreign affairs, said that Dayan was “the right person to represent Israel at this moment in Brazil”.

    Dayan, 59, the former head of the Yesha Council, which represents the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, was approved by the administration of Benjamin Netanyahu on 6 September.

    But more than 40 Brazilian social movements, including some of Rousseff’s supporters, have signed a petition calling on the government to reject Dayan’s appointment over his “acts in clear violation of international laws and the basic rights of the Palestinian people”.

    A report published on Sunday by the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, claimed that Rousseff has expressed her displeasure at Dayan’s appointment via private channels.

    Before sending an ambassador, diplomatic protocol dictates that foreign governments request permission from the host country, known as an “agrément”. It is extremely rare for a government to refuse publicly to accept an ambassador, meaning that most rejections are conveyed privately.

    I wonder if the UN can refuse to accept an ambassador.

Leave a Reply