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ADL, other Jewish groups denounce ‘ongoing terrorism’ by settler extremists

In letter to Bennett, Lapid and Gantz, organizations urge ‘unequivocal action’ to stop violence against Palestinians, other Israelis and IDF; note damage caused to ties with US

A firefighter douses the flames in an Israeli car after it was allegedly set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank near the outpost of Givat Ronen on January 21, 2022. (Courtesy: Yesh Din)
A firefighter douses the flames in an Israeli car after it was allegedly set on fire by Jewish extremists in the West Bank near the outpost of Givat Ronen on January 21, 2022. (Courtesy: Yesh Din)

Seven liberal-leaning, American Jewish organizations released an open letter calling on Israel’s top leaders to take “unequivocal action” to stop “ongoing terrorism and political violence committed by Jewish Israeli extremists in the West Bank against Palestinians, Israeli civilians, and IDF soldiers.”

“We urge the entire Israeli government to unite in strong condemnation against these acts, to work decisively to hold those responsible accountable and to confront the growing threats posed by these extremists with the determination and seriousness that this grave situation requires,” they wrote.

The letter was signed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Central Conference of American (Reform) Rabbis, the Israel Policy Forum, the National Council of Jewish Women, the (Conservative Movement’s) Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. It was addressed to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as well as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The letter represented relatively rare rhetoric by mainstream pro-Israel organizations who seem to be losing patience over ever-escalating settler violence and the Israeli government’s failure to quash it out.

It notably avoided using the word “settler,” though, in an apparent effort to reach consensus among as many signatories as possible. At the same time, it goes as far as to call the attacks “terrorism and political violence committed by Jewish Israeli extremists.”

The letter pointed to the damage done by such incidents to Israel’s “image and relations with the United States government, American people, and American Jewry” as well as to Israel’s status as a democracy.

Violent acts by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank have become increasingly common over the past year.

Earlier this month, settlers from a West Bank outpost that is not recognized by Israel’s government attacked a group of human rights activists who were assisting Palestinian farmers in Burin, a village south of Nablus, in planting trees. The letter specifically cited the incident in Burin as “particularly egregious” but noted it is not an isolated incident.

The Burin incident was condemned by members of the coalition government, with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev saying that in his opinion the perpetrators were an organized terror group.

Violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank in 2021 exceeded the previous year’s attacks by nearly 50%, according to data compiled by The Times of Israel. The Biden administration has signaled that it is monitoring the phenomenon and last month the US State Department’s annual terrorism report included extensive reporting on settler violence.

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