"First, I thank you for publishing this comprehensive account, with its graphic details, of the attacks on Mr Matar and Mr Khaled of a non-violent resistance group, a local man, Majd, and on five Israeli activists intent on protecting villagers. The language used is clear and does not obfuscate or use the passive voice. We are told who did what. Violence against the population of the occupied West Bank by illegal colonial settlers is noted in the mainstream media when it is extreme, such as the Huwara pogrom, but goes otherwise underreported."
October 24, 2023
Manuela Vega, Staff Reporter, The Toronto Star
Marco Oved, Staff Reporter, The Toronto Star.
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor
Dear Ms Vega, Mr Oved and Mr Vincent,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Saskatoon Chapter, to thank you for your article: "'Like we were trophies..." published in the Toronto Star on October 24. I also want to alert you to a few errors.
First, I thank you for publishing this comprehensive account, with its graphic details, of the attacks on Mr Matar and Mr Khaled of a non-violent resistance group, a local man, Majd, and on five Israeli activists intent on protecting villagers. The language used is clear and does not obfuscate or use the passive voice. We are told who did what.
Violence against the population of the occupied West Bank by illegal colonial settlers is noted in the mainstream media when it is extreme, such as the Huwara pogrom, but goes otherwise underreported.
Your article makes it clear to the reader that the Israeli army was complicit in these brutal acts: "We thought they had come to help us."
You report that the settler community denied the allegations but I was pleased to see you follow this with confirmation that you consulted three witnesses and reviewed photographic evidence.
Since 2007, B'tselem's Camera Project has provided West Bank Palestinians with video cameras to expose the violence by the "peaceful, loyal and law-abiding" (and certainly there are some) illegal settlers in the West Bank. B'tselem refers to this as "state sponsored violence" which is anything but sporadic. In 2022, there were an average of 71 attacks every month (Amira Hass, daughter of Holocaust survivors, in Ha'aretz).
Therefore, I ask you to change "conflicts that sporadically occur" to "daily attacks on West Bank Palestinians by illegal Israeli settlers." A conflict implies two equal sides. Settlers have always been armed and lately were provided with military weapons by Israel's security minister Ben G'vir.
The paragraph "more than 100 official settlements in the West Bank and another 100 unofficial outposts have been built on land that has never been ceded formally to Israel” might be problematic for readers not familiar with the topic, as the claim is really much stronger.
“Ceded “ implies there was an expectation on the part of Palestine to cede their lands. Israel has never defined its borders.The 1967 armistice line, or the Green Line, is the internationally recognized border between the occupied Palestinian territory i.e. West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and the state of Israel.
It represents an area equivalent to 22 % of historic Palestine. This area has been vastly reduced by the presence of the illegal settlements, and the 'two-state solution' is more and more being seen as unrealistic.
Please change the paragraph to reflect the following:
"Major settlements are built on land taken from Palestinians. All are illegal under international law but Israel regards them as legal. There are also 'outposts', started by Israelis in more remote locations. Israel has regarded these as unauthorised and illegal but in early 2023 the far-right cabinet approved the legalisation of nine illegal settler outposts in the occupied West Bank."
The article ambiguously claims that “Israeli army raids have led to dozens of deaths according to the Palestinian authority." The time period is not clarified. According to OCHA, 95 Palestinian have been killed by the Israeli army, including 28 children, since October 7. For this entire year, the number is around 200, as Israel has launched near-nightly military raids in the West Bank. Please add clarification about the time period.
Several times the article refers to the “West Bank”.
Please always refer to the West Bank as being occupied, especially when first mentioned. It is important for readers to be reminded of this, as occupation comes with certain responsibilities on the part of the occupier.
Thank you for making these adjustments.
This is an unusually informative and honest piece of journalism which will give readers valuable insight into the systemic violence that characterizes the occupation.
I look forward to articles of similar standard.
Thanks too to Sufian Tafa
Box 910, Lanigan, SK