Today the BBC reported that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, whose appointment ends soon, called the attacks by Jewish settlers in Hebron in the last several days a "pogrom," a word generally used to refer to the anti-Semitic treatment of Jews in Europe in and before World War II. Settlers are angry because the Israeli army forcibly evicted a few of them a couple days ago because they forged documents of ownership of the house, and the Israeli High Court ruled against them.
It is true that this act is a "pogrom," but it is incredibly hypocritical for Olmert to denounce it without taking measures against settlement growth. It is Olmert's policies which have broken the Oslo Accords and continued building settlements in the West Bank. If he gives them the prerogative to live there, stealing land from the Palestinians who previously lived in those houses and used that land, how is this different from the violent attacks occurring in Hebron in recent days?
The only difference is that the attacks are overtly violent, while the subtle stealing and take-over of the West Bank happen stealthily. What is really wrong with the attacks, as Olmert's thinking goes, is that they are bringing the world's attention to the problem and swaying public opinion toward innocent Palestinians, while the settlement growth is almost imperceptible and not worthy of much press.
This latest violence is nothing very unusual, unfortunately. Look at this UN report, which records almost as many settler attacks in the first half of 2008 as there were in all of 2007.
I hope that eventually--hopefully sometime soon--all people will be able to live in peace in the Middle East, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion or gender. May we all recognize the seeds of war in ourselves, and live in more just ways with one another day by day.