Earlier this month, Israeli settlers set ablaze the Palestinian town of Huwara, near Nablus, in what many described as a pogrom. Sameh Aqtesh, a 37-year-old Palestinian father of five, was shot dead, dozens were injured and many homes and businesses were vandalised. Since then, there have been subsequent attacks on the town and neighbouring areas.
The Western media has taken an interest, but it framed what happened in Huwara as tit for tat between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. As a result, the coverage of the pogrom in the West ignored not only months of escalating settler violence but also the reality of Zionist settler colonialism.
So-called liberal Zionists and Israelis who consider themselves on the left of the political spectrum also showed an interest in Huwara. Since the pogrom, dozens of Israeli activists descended on the town to demonstrate. A small minority among the tens of thousands of Israelis attending the “pro-democracy” protests against the coalition government’s judicial reform plans have also raised anti-occupation slogans in the wake of the attack on Huwara. Others have taken to writing publicly about the shamefulness of what took place, claiming that at this moment “to love Israel is to denounce it”. “This is of concern to Jewry all over the world,” said British Jewish historian Simon Schama. “It’s absolutely, utterly horrifying.” Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence – “a noble document, which promised equal civil rights to all religious and ethnic groups” – had disintegrated, he said.
For these Israelis and Zionists, what happened in Huwara is seen simply through the prism of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government. In other words, as a regrettable symptom of the Israeli regime’s shift to the right and the inevitable emboldening of Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
This is an astoundingly deluded take on reality.