Jul 1, 2023
Palestinian Loss of Land 1947 to Present. israel vs Palestinian war. Israel-Palestinian map. Image: iStock

What does the word ‘settler’ mean to you? We read it often in reference to Palestine-Israel. The recent horror of murder and violence in the Occupied areas of the West Bank (Palestinian Territory) needs to be explained; and not with vague and rhetorical reporting which too often suggests that the illegal Jewish settlers are once again targeted by Arab madmen.

When Palestinians defending their homeland are called terrorists, one needs the background to understand how such a label can be cast onto them but not on the violent settlers. And who exactly are these ‘settlers’. Some media outlets tend to obfuscate this action of settling, but it should be clarified.

Settlers usually take land, kill, massacre indigenous people and claim the land for themselves. Some shrug their shoulders at this behaviour (such as in Australia or the U.S.) and refer to it as human nature. It may be human nature to push further and be brutal, but resistance is also human nature. And the Palestinians have resisted for over 75 years.

Jewish settlers are those who have seeped into someone else’s territory and set up house. They impose themselves by violent means and are there illegally under international law. They have the entirety of the State of Israel to live in, but in their blatant disregard for the Palestinians and their obsession with biblical musing about who can claim land, they have decided they want more. Settler means, in this instance, settler-colonial occupants. They’re on someone else’s land. Imagine Papua New Guineans scooting over the water to land in far North Queensland, building houses, farming the land, starting families and then claiming it’s their land and attacking all those who resist.

After the recent attacks back and forth between illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank and with Palestinians defending their territory, Itamar Ben-Gvir told the illegal settlers to arm themselves. He called for more aggression in the West Bank, “Return to the targeted killings, pull down buildings, put up roadblocks, deport terrorists, and put into law the death penalty for terrorists”. It begs the question who is terrorising whom.

Ben-Gvir isn’t so much far-right as having slid off the scale into the abyss of hatred as he promotes the eradication of the Palestinians. Even in gun-happy Texas this kind of lunacy would raise eyebrows. Surely? This racist outburst from Ben-Givr is frighteningly reminiscent. Illegal settlers are fortified by his hatred and arm themselves in order to kill the people they stole the land from. The IDF help the settlers by looking away when Palestinians are attacked. Has the world fallen asleep at the wheel of humanity, or are the Palestinians doomed to sit on the rudderless merry-go-round as they watch their homeland evaporate into Jewish hands.

When Palestinians lose their equilibrium and patience, they fight back for their land which has been taken. Perhaps we would all do the same given the right circumstances. This becomes a constant tit for tat on a dire scale. Lives are lost on both sides but disproportionately Palestinians are killed. When they attack Jewish settlers they are hunted down by the IDF and often killed; or as the euphemism goes – neutralised. Collective punishment (illegal under international law) looms for all Palestinians when attacks happen because the retribution of the bulldozing of homes and villages is not uncommon.

Palestinians have no such recall to the attacks they face from the Jewish settlers on their land. Just this week hundreds of illegal Jewish settlers in Palestinian land rampaged through a Palestinian town as they set homes, cars and fields on fire. About 30 homes were torched. Palestinians are not easily free to leave this kind of regular violence and move to another country. And why should they? It’s their homeland. But no matter what, the illegal settlers never leave. They never give an inch back of the land they’ve taken from the Palestinians even though they could move back into the State of Israel and stop the violence.

It’s hard to imagine anywhere else in the world where this kind of thuggery is tolerated, nay…ignored. Of course, it’s not tolerated in Israel…it’s encouraged! Jews who want to settle onto someone else’s land are given generous financial incentives to move into Palestinian Territory, the West Bank. As colonial settlers. Those two vague and obscure words that are omitted to make the Palestinians in the same area appear relentless in their trouble making and violence towards Jews.

Here’s a few facts that many exclude from memory. The Palestinians had nothing to do with the holocaust but are paying the price. The Palestinians had no say in the carving up of their homeland back in 1917. The Palestinians had a flourishing economy, agriculture, culture and history, and Palestine was not ‘a land without people’.

An old sacred book has tenuous rights to title deeds 2,500 years after coming into print. Especially if claims to those deeds means that people will be expelled or killed, made into refugees, left homeless and under occupation for over 75 years. The project of ongoing illegal Jewish settlers in Palestinian Territory, which the world seems to ignore, is not stopping and will never bring peace. It will only make matters worse for the Palestinians.

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