One of the many things that bothers me about Tom Friedman is how he is so locked in to a single way of describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. OK, occasionally I agree with him (like here) but yesterday he did it again:
When you leave the field empty of diplomacy now, with so many unstable characters roaming around — like extremist Israeli settlers given to occasionally daubing “Muhammad is a Pig” on Muslim buildings in the West Bank and extremist Palestinians from groups like Islamic Jihad given to shooting Israeli civilians or lobbing mortars from Gaza onto Israeli towns — you are really asking for trouble because many of the old firewalls are gone.
Now I have no problem with his depiction of Islamic Jihad. They use violence and kill Israelis. But are extremist Israeli settlers just graffiti artists with offensive taste? No. Actually they like violence too:
Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up by 57 percent this year, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories. (Reuters, July 14, 2011)
Or read this 2009 U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report. Here is an older news report from 2008:
Reported incidents include rock-throwing, gunfire, physical assaults, stolen livestock, property damage and burning of fields, according to a statement by B’Tselem, an Israeli human-rights organization. Most of the incidents have occurred near a group of settlements outside Nablus in the northern West Bank, and in another cluster south of Hebron, B’Tselem said. The organization is currently investigating 12 reported incidents occurring between July 29 and August 4. (The Forward, August 14, 2008)
There has been a rise in Jewish violence in Judea and Samaria. In the past, only a few dozen individuals took part in such activity, but today that number has grown into the hundreds. That’s a very significant change. These hundreds are engaged in conspiratorial actions against Palestinians and the security forces. It’s a very grave phenomenon. (Ha’aretz, October 2, 2008)
Both sides claim they are provoked. Both sides claim the other is more violent.
Message to Tom: extremists on both sides use violence.