After several days of wall-to-wall coverage of migrant protests, newspapers turn their attention Wednesday to another issue: West Bank settlers, or more specifically West Bank settler violence.
An apparent attempt by a group of settlers to attack an Arab village, seemingly as retribution for an army operation against their outpost’s olive trees, turned out badly (at least for the settlers) as they came up against an armed and angry group of Palestinians. Only the intervention of a few kind souls saved them from becoming “10 new Gilad Shalits,” and “lynch victims,” according to hyperbole-laden headlines in Israel Hayom.
“There could have been 10 Gilad Shalits here in a the best case, and in a worst case, they would have been lynched until they had no breath,” a resident is quoted telling the paper.
The settlers for their part, say they were on a hike. “I don’t know what the Arabs are complaining about,” Pinchasi Bar-on is quoted saying in Haaretz. “Of the 30 Jews who went on the hike, all 30 were injured.”
Despite their claim, pretty much everyone and his mother reports that the group was on its way to commit a “price tag” attack (you don’t wear a ski mask for a hike, unless you live in a Minnesota during a polar vortex), and pretty much everyone and his mother is PO’d at the group.
“Time is of the essence and we need to get the tiger back into the cage, not try to ride it,” Erel Segal writes in Maariv. “Price tag attacks are not only a stupid double-edged sword, but they are unethical actions whose only purpose is indiscriminate destruction and waste. The Jewish right to the land has nothing in common with this thoughtless bullying.”
In Yedioth Ahronoth, the villagers who only beat the settlers lay out the most unsubtle threat possible: “Next time they come here to chop down our olive trees, they won’t leave here alive,” a man from the village of Qusra is quoted saying.
However, in Haaretz, Amos Harel commentates that this is likely only the beginning of what may turn into a wider conflagration, as extremists on both sides battle forces at the center seeking peace.
“It’s hard to believe that the double humiliation they suffered Tuesday — first their captivity at the hands of village residents, then their rescue by the army they regularly accuse of cowardice and defeatism in dealing with Arabs — will do anything to restrain them. Indeed, chances are good that exactly the opposite will occur. Instead of the ‘price tag’ attack that was prevented, we’ll get price tag squared,” he writes.
If there wasn’t enough conflict already, Maariv tries stirring the pot a bit by previewing a weekend interview with coalition chair and known hawk Likud MK Yariv Levin, quoting him as saying that he will work to make sure Muslim Arabs are weeded out from Christians.
“My bill will grant different recognition to the Christian public, which will be separated from Muslim Arabs,” he is quoted saying. “This is a historic process and important for balancing the State of Israel and connecting us with Christians, and I will be strict in not calling them Arabs, since they are not Arabs.”
Speaking of second class citizens … er residents … er migrants, Israel Hayom reports on the protests by the whatever-loaded-term-you-want-to-call-them, saying their demonstrations are being stepped up. And as if to say “look, we’re not so bad,” the paper packages its story with one about Australia turning away a boatful of Indonesian boat people looking for asylum or jobs, or jobs as asylum seekers.
The paper’s Haim Shain takes it a step further, writing that they are lucky we don’t treat them like other countries would.
“Israel has dealt with the infiltrators very sensitively,” he writes, using the government’s word for the migrants. “In US states bordering Mexico, they shoot at border hoppers, and during Barack Obama’s presidency, the US has deported over a million illegal immigrants. In Italy, Greece, France and Spain they fine them, jail them and quickly kick them out. Only in little Israel do we give them financial help and make sure to make deals with countries to take them – amounts that sometimes add up to a lot for Israeli taxpayers.”
Spender in chief
Even with all the money Israel gives the immigrants, it’s still cheaper than what it costs the country to pay for cleaning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home, or keeping him well stocked in ice cream.
Yedioth reports that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will soon discuss whether personal expenses incurred by prime ministers should be covered by the public coffer. While the lawmakers fear public condemnation over luxury spending in a time of austerity, they also fear the wrath of Netanyahu, the paper reports.
Netanyahu, you will remember, was recently caught billing the state thousands of shekels for scented candles, NIS 80,000 a year for water and all sorts of other goodies John Q. Taxpayer was none too pleased to hear about. Thus, the bill’s author, Miki Rosenthal, says it should be the spender in chief himself who announces support for the measure first.
“I think the ministers well understand and listen to the public mood,” he tells the paper. “Netanyahu needs to be the first to tell the ministers to support the bill.”
In Haaretz’s op-ed page, Avi Shilon writes that Netanyahu has already taken the correct stand on one thing: demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state: “The numerous Israelis who claim that they have no need for Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewish character and essence are right. What they don’t understand is that Netanyahu needs such recognition not as a testimony to the character of his country but as proof that the Palestinians are serious about ending the conflict. This is the key to understanding his approach to the conflict.”