Left-wing NGOs warn settler group’s video could incite to violence

Animated clip by Samaria Settlers’ Committee employs anti-Semitic tropes; Netanyahu comes out against ad

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

A scene from "The Eternal Jew" video produced by the Samaria Settlers' Committee. (YouTube screenshot)
A scene from "The Eternal Jew" video produced by the Samaria Settlers' Committee. (YouTube screenshot)

Left-wing Israeli organizations are calling for the Attorney General to investigate a Jewish settler organization under Israel’s anti-incitement law for a video it shared on social media.

The Samaria Settlers’ Committee, an organization headed by veteran settler leader and Gush Emunim founder Benny Katzover, uploaded the two-minute-long animated clip to YouTube on Saturday. Its critics accuse it of being anti-Semitic and an incitement to violence against the leaders, members and supporters of left-wing organizations.

The video, which has been viewed close to 30,000 times in less than a day, is indeed replete with anti-Semitic tropes and makes clear allusions to the Nazis.

In the clip, an unseen character named “Mr. Stürmer” (Der Stürmer was the name of a Nazi newspaper that spread anti-Semitic propaganda) sits behind a newspaper titled, “Hasmol” (Hebrew for “The Left”). This unseen character orders a hook-nosed Jew to dig up and bring him untruthful news items for his newspaper about Israel and the IDF. Each time the obsequious Jew brings him this “information,” he tosses a Euro coin at him. Eventually Mr. Stürmer has no more use for the Jew and tells him to take care of himself.

The video, titled “The Eternal Jew” (also the name of an infamous anti-Semitic propaganda movie put out by the Nazis in 1940), ends with an image of the Jew hanging from a tree. Next to him are the logos of 10 different left-wing Israeli non-governmental organizations, including the New Israel Fund, Peace Now and B’Tselem and the following sentence: “The Europeans maybe seem different to you today, but to them…you are exactly the same.”

The video is evidently an attack on European funding of Israeli NGOs working to advance Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and protect Palestinians rights. A statement issued to The Times of Israel by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee quoting Katzover confirms that this was the intended message.

“In recent years, the support of foreign bodies and governments for extreme leftist organizations in Israel has grown. We are talking about foreign governments whose goal is to destroy the lives of Jews in the Land of Israel in general, and in particular over the Green Line, and do so with funding of hundreds and millions of Euros,” Katzover said.

“The purpose of the video is to show that even in the best case, Israeli leftist organizations are acting like idiotic pawns of the swarm of modern anti-Semitism. In the worst case, they are consciously acting to destroy the State of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the video, saying in a statement that he is “stridently against the comparison between organizations or Israeli individuals — from any political stripe — and between Nazi Germany and condemn any use of it for elections.”

In 2011 and 2013, right-wing Knesset members attempted to advance a bill that would limit foreign funding for Israeli NGOs that support the prosecution of IDF officers in international courts or campaign for boycotting Israeli institutions or products.

Sunday morning, Peace Now posted on Facebook a letter that it sent to Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein calling on him to order a police investigation of the Samaria Settlers’ Committee.

“…In this case we are talking about a true breach of the law. We believe there is an actual possibility that after watching a video like this, a person could carry out an act, either planned or spontaneous, against these organizations and activists, either in the Occupied Territories, or within Israel,” Peace Now general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer wrote.

Outgoing Peace Now general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Peace Now general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Oppenheimer also pointed out that the video was made with public money.

“The budget of the Samaria Settlers’ Committee comes from the Samaria Regional Council…this projects the message that this is not just a video by a fly-by-night organization, but rather the official position of state authorities,” he wrote.

Labor MK Stav Shaffir posted on Facebook her disgust for the video, and shared that NIS 1.3 million of public funds go to the Samaria Settlers’ Council every year.

Uri Misgav, writing in Haaretz, agreed that the fact that this video was made and disseminated by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee raises the anti-left rhetoric to a new level.

“Comparisons between left wingers and peace activists, human rights organizations and journalists to Nazi collaborators are not a new thing. This phenomenon reached its peak in the years around the time that the Oslo Accords were signed…But until today it seemed that this was coming from the fringes of the right-wing. The escalation of this new video is significant for two reasons. First, here we see the Europeans—and not the Palestinians—portrayed as Nazis. And second, this was produced and shared by a body that is completely part of the establishment,” Misgav wrote.

Neta Patrick, executive director of Yesh Din, an Israeli organization working to defend the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, issued a statement calling the video an attempt at “incitement against civil society organizations.”

“It seems that after they failed to convince the public in other ways, they decided turned to Nazi propaganda. I pity the person whose feverish mind conceived those kind of images,” she said.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry told The Times of Israel he was aware of complaints lodged with the Attorney General about the “Eternal Jew” video, but that the ministry was not issuing any comment on the matter at this time.

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