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Israeli FM condemns ‘settler violence’ narrative as ‘blood libel’

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A Samaria Regional Council report found the U.N. massaged the numbers to present a false picture.

David Isaac


Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Sunday called reports of a growing phenomenon of “settler violence” a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

Cohen’s remarks came in reaction to a report that he was presented with on Dec. 27 compiled by the Samaria Regional Council, which documented what it described as an international media campaign against Israel alleging a “surge” in “settler violence.”

It found that press reports relied primarily on numbers provided by the U.N. and, secondly, by other anti-Israel NGOs.

The study examined the U.N. numbers (compiled by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and found they were “not a credible source for ‘settler violence’ content.”

The report revealed that through verbal sleight of hand, OCHA shifted its terminology from “settler violence” to “settler-related incidents” in a graph documenting the alleged spike in violent acts.

More disturbingly, the OCHA page on settler violence defined those incidents as “involving violence, intimidation or trespass carried out by or against Israeli settlers and other Israeli civilians in the West Bank.”

“In other words, violence AGAINST settlers is also counted, by the U.N., as ‘settler-related violence,’” the report stated.

“The disclosure given to me by the head of the Samaria Council is extremely important. If the things are indeed true, this is a serious matter,” Cohen said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen at the ministry in Jerusalem, June 12, 2023. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90.

“I will demand answers from the United Nations and I will also instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to forward the data of the report to our ambassadors around the world so that they can use it and disprove the blood libel,” Cohen said.

“The anti-Israeli campaign called ‘settler violence’ is a false campaign, disconnected from reality, and its entire purpose is to slander an entire population. The community that settles in Judea and Samaria is a law-abiding community that contributes to the state in many areas,” he said.

The report also noted that OCHA doesn’t look at whether Jewish residents acted in self-defense. “The fact that the agency feels no need to do so, is itself strong evidence of the agency’s real motivation: not to prevent violence, but to tarnish Israel’s image.”

Although the report notes that the term “settler violence” was coined in 2007, it says the goals of the worldwide media campaign for 2023 are among other things to “strike a specious balance” and create “a false moral equivalence” between the Hamas terrorists who perpetrated the Oct. 7 massacre and Jewish “settlers.”

Lending credence to this assertion was an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council called on Friday to discuss the Gaza war and “settler violence.”

The study cited a recent report, (which it said was ignored by international media), showing that violence against Arabs by Jews in Judea and Samaria had actually dropped.

According to Israel police statistics, from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7, there were 97 incidents of illegal activities attributed to Jews in Judea and Samaria, down from 184 offenses in the same period in 2022.

Concerns about “settler violence” have reached U.S. President Joe Biden, who asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Nov. 7 “to hold extremist settlers accountable for violent acts.”

On Sunday, 23 Knesset members wrote an open letter to Biden, requesting an explanation of his administration’s recent accusatory statements regarding Jewish violence.

“The data at our disposal indicates that the scope of these incidents is limited to a very small number of isolated events, which pales in contrast with the vastly larger scope of violent incidents perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs against the residents of these same Jewish communities,” the MKs wrote.

In the first six months of 2023, Rescuers Without Borders recorded 3,640 acts of Palestinian and Arab terrorism throughout Israel, including 2,118 cases of rock-throwing, 799 fire-bombings, 18 attempted stabbings and six vehicular assaults.

Image: A Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria herds sheep near his community, Aug. 20, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

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