Settler-run ‘tourist attraction’ teaches guests how to shoot Palestinians


Settler-run ‘tourist attraction’ teaches guests how to shoot Palestinians

Illegal settlers in the West Bank have set up a program for tourists of all ages to learn how to shoot “terrorists”, a term the organizers of the program not-so-implicitly define as Arabs, specifically Palestinians.

The program invites tourists from around the world to learn how to shoot and kill in three seconds or less. The tourists profiled in a recent Ynet report are an American family seeking the “thrill” of firing live rounds at makeshift targets designed to represent Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Located in Gush Etzion, a cluster of twenty-two Israeli settlements illegal under international law and condemned by the international community, the “tourist attraction” — as Ynet euphemistically puts it — awards participants a diploma indicating completion of a “basic shooting course in Israel”. The point, it seems, is to reframe the role settlements and their occupants play as a strictly defensive one.

One participant, Olga, says that she “heard on the news about shootings in the West Bank,” and that she and her family “came to see it in person.”

Little do Olga and her children know, however, that the shootings that occur in the West Bank are almost exclusively perpetrated by settlers firing at unarmed Palestinian farmers and day laborers. In fact, settler violence has increased so dramatically in the last few years that B’Tselem, an Israeli rights agency, has dedicated an entire segment of its field work and research to reporting violence committed by settlers.

Furthermore, in the latest “Protection of Civilians Weekly Report” (June 6-12) published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territories, settlers are reported to have set fire to over 200 trees and dozens of dunums of wheat fields belonging to Palestinian communities. (Download the report here.)

More importantly, since the beginning of 2012, settlers have injured 63 Palestinians, or an average of about 3 Palestinians per week. This is in contrast to the 19 Israelis injured by Palestinians.

It is more frightening than ironic that this tourist program, founded on illegally annexed Palestinian land, seeks to teach participants how to properly shoot at Palestinians, a strategy widely employed by settlers throughout throughout the West Bank. As this program indoctrinates youth to express their intolerance through physical violence, the end result will mirror what happened in ‘Asira Al-Qibliya on May 19 when masked Israeli settlers confronted Palestinian residents and shot one Palestinian man in his neck, or what happened in the southern hills of Al-Khalil on May 21 when an Israeli settler assaulted a Palestinian farmer with a sickle, or what happened in ‘Urif on May 26 when masked settlers set fire to olive groves and fired live rounds at nearby Palestinians, injuring one. (For footage and in-depth reporting about these three separate cases of settler violence, click here.)


Ynet’s yellow journalism: A comparison of two reports (and a small physics lesson at the end)

On June 18, Ynet News published a report on a summer camp run by settlers in the West Bank that teaches Israelis and tourists how to shoot “terrorists” or, more specifically, Palestinians, in three seconds or less. One family calls it a “thrill”. Children of all ages are invited to fire weapons at targets simulating Palestinian West Bank residents, to listen to ”stories from the battleground”, and to watch simulations of assassinations. Ynet writes highly of the program and refers to it as a “5-Star War”.

On July 11, Ynet published a report on a Hamas-run summer camp in the Gaza Strip that gives children a unique opportunity to experience the struggles of Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention in Israel. The program involves a tour of a mock solitary confinement cell, interrogation room, and prison hospital. Children participate in a variety of activities which can include walking on a bed of nails. Ynet refers to this program as “indoctrination”.

This is a textbook example of yellow and very unethical journalism. In the first case, Ynet applauds a program hosted in an illegal settlement on occupied land that trains the public to use lethal force. In the second case, Ynet decries a program that teaches participants about the human rights abuses incarcerated Palestinians are forced to endure in the Israeli prison system.

If Ynet wants to classify something as “indoctrination”, it should first look to its report about the settler-run camp that includes a photograph of a five-year-old girl holding and eventually firing a rifle. The article is rife with quotes from teens who profess their excitement at being ready to permanently disable another human being with lethal force. “They should know where they come from,” says a father as he watches his kindergarten-age daughter “shooting clay bullets like a pro.” If that isn’t indoctrination, I don’t know what is.

When it comes to reporting on the Gaza-based summer camp, Ynet appears fixated on the bed of nails. Both attached photographs are of the nailbed and one is sarcastically captioned “Nothing spells summer fun more than walking on nails.” Ynet doesn’t even bother considering the very reasonable purpose of the summer camp until the final paragraphs and when it does, it denounces it as a form of brainwashing as if Israel’s widely-documented human rights violations against Palestinians is nothing but a mere myth.

Clearly, any comparison of these two reports quickly reveals Ynet’s poor standards in fair and balanced journalism.

And here’s an introductory math, physics, and common sense lesson for any Ynet editors who think walking on a bed of nails is worse than encouraging hormonal teenagers to shoot at others in the name of nationalism. Imagine a boy of constant mass standing on a nailbed like the one pictured in the report. He is standing not on one nail but on, let’s say, 50 or more. The area over which his downward force is distributed is far greater than one might assume, and based on the equation PRESSURE = FORCE / AREA, the greater the area, the lower the pressure. The nails wouldn’t pierce the skin or even cause much discomfort. But if that’s not convincing, here’s a video of a balloon on a bed of nails that just won’t pop.

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