Settlers cartoon
Illustration by Amos Biderman
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Perhaps because of the scandalous price Israeli taxpayers have paid for the Migron squatters who have now been so kind as to move to new public housing at our expense, the young criminals known as "hilltop youth" have shown mercy to their Palestinian neighbors. By the time these lines were written, there had been no reports of "price tag" incidents in the area. But without us having noticed, the number of terrorist attacks carried out by Jewish settlers against West Bank Palestinians has in recent months outnumbered the number of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.

In July, Shin Bet security service reports indicate 34 instances of Molotov cocktails being thrown and two roadside bombs being planted by Palestinians. There were no casualties.

By contrast, the most recent report issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows 114 Palestinians injured this year by settler gunfire, compared to 27 settlers injured in incidents with Palestinians. This is in addition to the 2,066 Palestinians injured by Israeli security services (a weekly average of 61 people wounded, compared to 28 a week last year ).

In the pages of the OCHA report, there is a dryly-worded account of the destruction of five wells belonging to three Palestinian families - 23 people in all - in the villages of Qad and Dir Abu Daif in the Jenin sector.

What's yours is mine, too

The destruction of wells and other critical Palestinian facilities in Area C, where the Oslo Accord grants Israel full control, has become a dog-bites-man story. But these two villages are located in Area B, where, under the Oslo Accord, Israel's Civil Administration has no authority over planning, construction and zoning. The response of the coordinator of government activities in the territories: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs itself admits that the wells under discussion were constructed without a permit from the Israeli-Palestinian water commission, where the chairman of the Palestinian Water Ministry himself is seated.

The problem? The water commission hasn't met for more than 10 years. As for the Civil Administration's authority to operate in Area B, no answer was given.

The destruction of the wells damages the livelihood of some 130 families who make a living from farming. Thousands of words have been written about the grotesque division of the water supply between Palestinians and settlers. For now, the Palestinians are keeping their mouths shut and the security services of the Palestinian Authority are ensuring our safety.

While the suicide attacks attracted a great deal of attention to the occupation, the absence of such attacks, naturally, has the opposite effect. We've become used to an occupation that comes with no price tag. Maybe it's impossible to get peace without giving land, but if there's security, who needs peace?

Driven by vengeance

This is not, however, what Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On thinks. In a letter sent last week to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, she asked if he has data about the effect of the occupation on terrorists' motivation and on religious radicalization in the West Bank. In her letter, Gal-On included an analysis by Yariv Mohar of Rabbis for Human Rights that was based on a study done a few years ago by psychology Prof. Shaul Kimhi and Dr. Shmuel Even, the highest ranked retired officer to have served in Military Intelligence. The findings of the study, commissioned by the Institute for National Security Studies, show that suicide terrorism is typically motivated mainly by the desire for revenge: over the death or serious injury of a relative or close friend; the personal humiliation or witnessing of the humiliation of a family member; or some other psychologically or physically traumatic event related to the conflict. The researchers assume that making progress toward a political solution and reducing friction with the Palestinian population (such as roadblocks, curfews and denial of access ) will in the long run reduce the number of vengeance-minded suicide candidates.

The researchers also suggest steps to reduce public and financial support for suicide attacks. But for these steps to reduce suicide attacks significantly, they also recommend steps to give Palestinians hope for a future political solution.

The devotees of Baruch Goldstein also know this simple truth. His massacre of Muslims praying in Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs at the end of February 1994 did not leave much room for a political solution. The murder of the 29 worshippers put an end to the Hamas leadership's religious-legal discussion of suicide attacks, and eroded the Israeli public's support for the Oslo process.

How will Goldstein's admirers translate the phrase "price tag" into Arabic when the Palestinians' "hilltop youth" decide to take their revenge on Tel Aviv cafe patrons for the severe injuries to the family riding in the Palestinian taxi near Bat Ayin, for the shooting of shepherds in the Hebron hills, for the burning of mosques, for the uprooting of olive trees in Samaria, and for the destruction of wells near Jenin?

Erratum

Last week I complimented Avigdor Lieberman for being the first foreign minister to have appointed a Druze as ambassador. Mea culpa. I am ashamed to say that I made do with citing the website of Yisrael Beiteinu about an event that took place in the village of Maghar on the occasion of local resident Dr. Naim Aridi's appointment as Israel's ambassador to Norway. There, it said that Aridi was "the first Druze in the history of the State of Israel appointed to this senior position." It also said that "Aridi thanked the minister, saying, 'I think that in the history of the Jewish people there has not been such an appointment for the Druze community, to a position this senior. The Druze community will know how to express its gratitude.'"

Several readers alerted me to the fact that no fewer than three members of the Druze community have already served as ambassadors. Reda Mansour was appointed Israel's ambassador to Ecuador already in 2000. More than a decade ago, Walid Mansour served as ambassador to Peru. And less than a year ago, Lieberman himself appointed Bahij Mansour, a former ambassador to Angola, as ambassador to Nigeria. The more the merrier.