Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Welcome to the SDL: Settler Defamation League

One of the most powerful Jewish lobby groups in the world today, 2nd only to AIPAC, is the Settler Defamation League (SDL) - primarily led by Israel's media, governmental and judicial officials, and other members of Israel's cultural elite - which aims to defame (by all means possible) any Jew who lives over the Green Line (Judea & Samaria), including anyone who believes that the Jewish People have a right to live in Judea & Samaria under the sovereignty of the Jewish State of Israel, and tirelessly works to create an atmosphere of hatred towards the "settler" public and its ideology, within the eyes of the general Israeli public.

Here is the latest example of the SDL's handiwork - an article by David Forman in the Jerusalem Post - Let's take a closer look at the tactics of the SDL, and see if they stand up to the test of truth:

Settlers, hands off the olive trees
There were a number of media reports last month about Jewish settlers in the northern West Bank cutting down hundreds of Palestinian olives trees. I believe these reports are true. In fact, it is almost impossible to keep track of how many times such heinous acts have been perpetrated against innocent Palestinian farmers.

How is it possible that the supposedly respectable Jerusalem Post suddenly has forgotten a basic principle of journalism, namely, the obligation of the paper to verify the accuracy of statements published in its pages, as opposed to publishing conjecture and passing it off as truth?

Forman starts off by saying that he believes the media reports about "settlers" cutting down hundreds of "Palestinian" olive trees to be true.

I find this statement to be strange. If these events truly happened, why does Forman need to qualify it by stating that he believed them to be true? If the "settlers" truly cut down hundreds of olive trees, then how could there be any doubt regarding the veracity of what took place?

Furthermore, Forman continues, that "it is almost impossible to keep track of how many times such heinous acts have been perpetrated".

Is it not the responsibility of a journalist to be able to prove his statements? Are we talking about tens of incidents? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? If these incidents are happening as often as Forman seems to imply, you would think that there would be someone keeping track of exactly how many incidents are taking place.
I recently joined a group from Rabbis for Human Rights on a mission to the South Hebron Hills. Our purpose was to aid farmers there who were cultivating their fields in preparation for the planting of olive trees... We wanted to protect these Palestinians from marauding settlers who, we had reason to expect, might prevent them from working their lands...

Rabbis For Human Rights is an organization that already has a history of fabricating false reports against "settlers", accusing them of cutting down "Palestinian" olive trees, and the fact that the basis for Forman's article are his activities with this organization calls the accuracy of the entire article into question.

On Nov. 3, (2003) the branches of hundreds of Arab-owned olive trees were found to have been cut down near the small Jewish community of Mitzpeh Yitzhar in the Shomron. Suspicions were immediately focused on the Jewish residents living
nearby, and media reports and public officials took it for granted that they were responsible.

Police now feel that left-wing Israelis and the Arab tree-owners may have manufactured the entire incident as a provocation and a way to besmirch the Jewish population. The police have requested that Rabbi Arik Asherman of the Reform Movement and an Arab who filed charges against Jewish Yesha residents submit to lie-detector tests - but the two have, thus far, refused to do so.

The investigation began its about-face when a Jewish National Fund expert brought in by the police concluded that no lasting damage was done to the trees, and that the tree-cutters did not "cut down" the trees, but rather "pruned" them.

Here's another incident of "settlers" being falsely accused of cutting down "Palestinian" olive tress:

Tree-Cutting "Libel" - Once Again, Jews Stand Accused

The Jerusalem Post article continues:
There seems to be a coordinated plan by the government, IDF, civil administration and Jewish settlers to make the South Hebron area "Arab Free." This effort includes the destruction of houses, tents and caves. It apparently involves sealing wells, uprooting orchards, poisoning grazing fields and preventing Arab residents from farming their land and tending their livestock.

These measures appear to be carried out as if to exhaust the local Palestinian population, to further impoverish them and to run them off their land without compensation...

Notice Forman's statements:

* There seems to be...
* It apparently involves...
* These measures appear to be carried out as if to...

So, which is it? Are these accusations by Forman based on fact or mere conjecture and speculation?
On our trip, we encountered harrowing Jewish religious fanaticism... Within minutes, about 60 settlers from Susya appeared, rifles slung over their shoulders, descending upon the few Palestinians working their fields...

What is it exactly, according to Forman, that enables him to label these "settlers" immediately upon seeing them, as Jewish religious fanatics?

Is it because they are religious? Is it because some may have had beards? Perhaps they wore knitted kippot? Is it because they carried guns (legally)? Or, is it simply that anyone who lives over the Green Line immediately considered to be an extremist, no questions asked?
After the destruction of olive groves in the north, one would have expected the army to protect the Palestinians and to apprehend the criminals who destroy their property. This never happens, nor are perpetrators of virtually all settler violence against Palestinians ever arrested and tried...

How can it be that in the wake of so many incidents of "settlers" supposedly cutting down "Palestinian" olive trees - so many incidents in fact, that it is "impossible" to know exactly how many - that no "settlers" have been convicted for such actions?

Could it be, perhaps, as has been documented above, that those accusing the "settlers" of such actions have questionable credibility at best?
Postscript: As I write these lines, 140 trees were cut down in the Palestinian village of Burin.

Sure they were.


Excellent response to his idiocy.

By Blogger Joe Settler, at Wed Dec 28, 06:14:00 PM GMT+2  

I heard the media reporting that the estate of George Washington is pressing charges against the Zionist Aggressors for their role in that whole "cherry tree incident".

By Anonymous Strong Bad, at Wed Dec 28, 07:38:00 PM GMT+2  

Forman is an idiot, and he along with Gershon "Basket Case" Baskin are cut from the same cloth as well as Go'el, Schorsch and Yoffie whenever they are in the Paper.

But I will even take Boteach, Shafran , Uri Dan etc...

You know exactly what these people will say every time you look at one of their articles.

The JPOST is really going down hill with what they are printing.

By Blogger JMH, at Wed Dec 28, 07:57:00 PM GMT+2  

Ok- I don't know enough about the cases you quote to comment on each incident. BUT I do know that you are completely incorrect in what you say about Rabbis for Human Rights. And you are even more wrong for insinuating that they are somehow not as "Jewish" as the settlers because they carry out left-wing activity. Have you ever sat down with any of them to talk about what it is they do? Or even read their website?

And whether you like it or not, unfortunately there have been (witnessed and documented) attacks on Palestinian Olive Groves by Jews. If, as you claim, it is all propaganda, surely you can come up with some explanations for the incidents which have been witnessed, filmed and admitted to? Or are the people I know personally who have seen such things also liars and propagandists?- Am I?

Finally, yes, there are a growing number of Israelis who seek to demonize people who live in Yesh(a) and blame them for everything that is wrong with our society. And that is grossly unfair and even disgusting. Yet on this blog, you often tar the "Leftists" with the same blame-brush... I caught the end of a documentary film last night on the Gush Katif aftermath, which interviewed people from all "sides" - Expellees, Pro-Disengagement Activists, Orange Campaigners, Journalists, Arabs. A woman now living in a tent city said through her tears that she was horrified to discover how much of Israeli society doesn't care about her or "Greater Israel", but that she is willing to put in the work to bridge this terrible gap. She expressed doubts about the "other side.") Reading this entry, I can't help but wonder if you are more interested in defending the Settler movement and attacking the "other side" than finding some common ground with them- who remain your fellow Israelis.

By Anonymous PP, at Thu Dec 29, 08:29:00 AM GMT+2  

PP, you raise a number of points to which I would like ot respond:

1)As for Rabbis for Human Rights do you deny the report that Rabbi Aril Asherman refused to take a lie detector test to back up his adccusations against the "settlers" accusing them of cutting down "Palestinian" olive tress in the past?

He is the head of the organization, and as such, his actions are representative of the organization - and if you feel that they are not an accurate portrayal, then perhaps they should find someone more respectable to lead it.

2) I am not claiming that every incident is propoganda, what I was showing that this article was a hatchet job by David Forman that was based on speculation and not fact - if he wants to present solid facts, then there is what to talk about, but this article had none of that - and that is was I was tearing apart.

3) As for your final point, I will respond soon, as my wife is nagging me ot get off the computer...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Thu Dec 29, 09:33:00 AM GMT+2  


YOU should get your facts straight - David Forman is not a journalist - he was writing an OPINION piece.

As for Arik Ascherman and the lie detector test. In what situation should someone be taking a lie detector test which is a clear violation of someone's privacy. Only in the case where they are accused of a crime - as there is clear evidence that the trees have been cut down, and Arik Ascherman is not a suspect, then the suspects should be the one taking a lie detector test.

Bottom line - everyone knows that settlers have in the past cut down the olive trees of Palestinian farmers - this is not even disputed by the Settler leaders (who I myself have met with) - and said that they were grieved by what they called "this outlandish behaviour" of some of their "wayward, but provoked youth".

Ze'ev - either the SDL is a figment of your imagination or it is a sick piece of slander against those who disagree with you.

I do want the dismantling of all settlements over the Green line, I do believe that they (you) harm Israel's security and prevent peace. I do believe that the settlements are destroying the economy of Israel and depriving the citizens of the state who are willing to live within our borders the right to freedom, peace, security and prosperity. However I have nothing against the settlers themselves, I believe that most of the settlers moved to the settlements because of economic inducement by successive right-wing likud governments (mostly under the auspices of Ariel Sharon) and have been abandoned by the people who sent them there. I do feel sympathy for the people who were asked to leave their homes. But that does not mean that the settlements which cause huge pain and suffering to both Israelis and Palestinians should be allowed to continue.

Hag Urim Sameah,


By Anonymous H, at Thu Dec 29, 02:00:00 PM GMT+2  

I stand by H's comment re Arik Ascherman being fully within his rights to refuse to take a lie detector test. Again, I would encourage you to investigate RHR a little more before you write about them.

(And if we were taking every piece of "reporting" to task for being 100% factual, then there would not be enough hours in the day to deal with most news agencies- and don't even get me started on the website you have even been known to write for.)

By Anonymous PP, at Sat Dec 31, 08:05:00 PM GMT+2  

Ok... 1st to respond to a point by PP - I do not hate my Jewish brothers and sisters to the political / relgious left of me. I do not agree with their ideologies, and in many cases I find them to be harmful to the best interests of the Jewish People and State.

At the same time, I have no problem sitting and talking with those who I disagree with, I in fact, enjoy such opportunities, and I look for ways to find a common ground and to live together as one nation in the land...

This blogi s a reflection of that - or at least it aims to be.

Haim to respond to your points:

1) As for Forman's article being an Op-Ed - so what? Are OP-ED's allowed to distort tyhe truth? Is a newspaper allowed to print falsehood, so long as its an OP-ED?

2) IU agree that Asherman did not have to take al ie detector test, but it is rather suspicious when it is found by police and JNF officials that there was in fact no damange done to the trees, contrary to what Asherman had reprted.

His not wanting to take a lie detector test, i nthat instance, calls his credibility into question, rightfully or not.

3) Whether or not "settlers" have cut down tress in the past is not relevant, b/c there was almost not a single factual point in Forman's article - it was all conjecture and speculation. If these events happened, document them, don't generalize.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Sun Jan 01, 12:12:00 AM GMT+2  

So - now for the excellence in Journalism award for 2006 - a very early entry here by Arutz 7:

THe Arutz 7 wizz-kids are so on the ball that they were able to suggest the following:

"The day of the secular new year is known in Hebrew as Sylvester Day, named after the Roman Pope who convinced the emperor Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem and who arranged for the passage of anti-Semitic laws more than 2,300 years ago."

Now let us think about this - Pope Sylvester. POPE Sylvester - is there a chance that anyone who knows anything above kindergarten level of knowledge of the western world would think to suggest that POPE Sylvester was active 2,300 years ago????? Given that the Christians believed their rebbe was brought to earth only 2006 years ago and that was in fact central to the whole point of the article. I mean can you believe this - an article about New Year's by someone who doesn't actually know that the Christian calendar which they are fighting against makes the year 2006?

So, Ze'ev - when the "news agency" you work for can be this stupid, is it really a good idea to criticise others? Glass houses, stones, ring a jingle bell?

1. You have totally failed to prove that there was any falsehood in Forman's article. You just have said that he hasn't backed up his conjecture. You in fact printed the falsehood by trying to imply that he was a hired journalist and that this was a factual report. That is the only falsehood so far actually proven.

2) I do not believe Rabbi Ascherman's credibility has been called into question. As any most basic student of human rights knows - if one allows tyranny to rule even when it does not harm you, you open the door for it to strip you of any rights whatsoever. A lie-detector should only be used when someone is accused of a criminal act. Would you like to take a lie detector test, where the interrogator could ask you questions about anything they wanted, in order to abuse and humiliate you?

3.and btw - YES - the point of Opinion pieces is to conject, not to report!!!!


By Anonymous H, at Sun Jan 01, 09:47:00 AM GMT+2  


1) Just b/c someonething is an opinon piece does not give one the liscense to create a flase reality.

2) I do not work for Arutz-7 - they publish some articles of mine (for which I do not receive a penny).

3) It is interesting that no where does Forman mention his former connection to RFHR's...

4) Rabbi Asherman, when it was found that he was being less than truthful, was put into a position where he needed to back up hius statements, which he declined to do - which was his right - but then he cant have his cakeand eat it oo, when people dont trust him..

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon Jan 02, 09:50:00 AM GMT+2  

I realized something.
The article I responded to in 1993 was written in Nov. The most recent charges also were in Nov. If as Arutz-7 notes is true and that the trees are being pruned, that makes a lot of sense. The trees would be pruned as part of the growing/harvesting cycle and the Palestinians would go to their pliable non-agriculturally inclined apologists and claim that the normal pruning is actually destruction.

By Blogger Soccer Dad, at Mon Jan 02, 11:00:00 AM GMT+2  

David - Coincidence? I think not. Good find.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon Jan 02, 11:28:00 AM GMT+2  


1) You have in no way proved that an impression of a false reality was created. The fact that the government is investigating this (finally!!) means that even the people who were protecting those who had committed the criminal damage now recognise the need to act against it. See this article for verification.

For reports of other settler theft and violence, see:

2) Whether or not you work for Arutz 7, Ze'ev, you by your actions have supported them. The issue is not the nature of your connection to them - it is the fact that they are unworthy to be called a news source given that they do not even know what year we are in according to the calendar used by 90% of the world. It is all very well to be great on covering the latest Talmudic hidush, but if you do not know what year it is, I wouldn't trust them on much beyond the yeshiva walls. And yet you, who support Arutz 7 believe that Ha'aretz are un-journalistic??? That was my point. Can you defend Arutz-7's standards?

3) You claim he does not mention his connection to RHR. Did you miss this line:

"I recently joined a group from Rabbis for Human Rights on a mission to the South Hebron Hills."

I think he was quite specific that his piece was written from personal experience of a particular case and that this experience was in the context of work done by the RHR. Or can i not read - does that say something else? Please Ze'ev!

4) Except Rabbi Ascherman was not "put into a position where he needed to back up his claims" - there was clear evidence of abuse of trees. The people in a position were the accused settlers, except in Israel, a Jew's word is worth more than an Arab's, or even worse, someone who may stand up for an Arab's rights at the expense of Jewish expansionism.

Ze'ev - simple question - do you believe that settler's have damaged palestinian olive trees?


By Anonymous H, at Mon Jan 02, 11:50:00 AM GMT+2  

And related to H's simple question- you didn't address mine- if all the people I know who have personally witnessed such damage are liars or distorters too?

You may be interested to know that some weeks ago, when Arutz Sheva first broke that Palestinians were pruning trees and then whining "settler damage", I actually brought it up as a serious contention in a discussion with Palestinians and Israelis on the matter (I didn't mention the source.) I won't get into the specifics here, but it can't be used as a counter-argument against the documented evidence that some settlers *have* damaged some trees.

(Final BTW- I didn't actually accuse you of hating people to the left of you: just that when you accuse the "Left" of forming a Settler Defamation League, that in itself is just as defamatory. As is contending that they are "harmful to the best interests of the Jewish People and State." )

By Blogger tafka PP, at Mon Jan 02, 02:02:00 PM GMT+2  

Haim, David Forman is one of the founders, if I am not mistaken, of RFHR's, and the fact that this is not mentioned in the article is deceptive - baed on the movements history, vis a vis incidents such as this.

PP, if you saw it with your own eyes, I am not calling you a liar. Again, the point I am making is that Forman's article contained little fact or proof that anything had taken place, just speculation and conjecture.

If there is factual evidence, let it be presented and evaluated.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon Jan 02, 02:37:00 PM GMT+2  

One thing occurred to me when I recalled a previous charge of "settler's destoying trees" was that that case, and the recent case you wrote about occurred in November. I wonder if charges of "settlers destroying olive trees" always occur in November; if they do, that would support the harvest thesis.
One other thing I wonder about is that the good folks at Settlement Watch are always eager to provide evidence of a new mirpesset that a "settler" has just built using aerial photographs. You'd think that those aerial photographs would show groves of olive trees (or their stumps) yet, to the best of my knowledge, no left winger has ever produced those photos to prove the chopping tree libel.

By Blogger Soccer Dad, at Tue Jan 03, 05:41:00 PM GMT+2  

David, another excellent pint - maybe they just lost the pictures...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Jan 03, 08:25:00 PM GMT+2  

there's a discussion going on HERE:

about Susya in case anyone would like to join in.

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