Attack against the Israeli pacifist Zeev Sternhell

Press review – week from September 22th to 26th, 2008


Le Monde, Sept. 25 begins its article on the facts as such: « The Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, a professor of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, known for his strong opposition to the construction of settlements in the West Bank, was slightly injured, Thursday 25 September by an explosive device outside his house. The police said they were suspecting the Israeli ultranationalist circles of being responsible for the attack. According to Israel Radio, leaflets were found at the scene, offering a reward of one million shekels (200 136 euros) to anyone who kills a member of the Israeli peace organization Peace Now, which opposes the Jewish settlement in the territories conquered during the Six Days war in 1967”.

Zeev Sternhell is known for his positions unequivocally against the colonies. Interviewed in March 2008 by Haaretz, he said that the settlers put in danger Zionism and convert it into a colonial movement. He said that if the State doesn’t evacuate the territories beyond the Green Line, Israel will soon be at an impasse: « A colonial state will cause a bloody Palestinian uprising and a binational state will lead to final bath blood, « said Zeev Sternhell in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The news of the attack has shocked the Israeli political class that has directly expressed strong criticism against the perpetrators of this act. The francophone TV5 television reports the statements condemning this act from all the political spectrum: Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni.

However Peace Now has declared the Israeli authorities responsible for the attack because they do nothing to stop the settlements, said the Jerusalem Post.

Reported by the Israeli press, the case has not been much covered by the international press except by some French or Spanish dailies. El País devoted a long article explaining not only the facts and past Sternhell, but also put this fact in parallel with other violent events in which ultra-Orthodox settlers were involved.

The Spanish daily returns on what happened on September 13 in the last Yithzar settlement, near Nablus. A Palestinian entered the settlement at the hour of prayer on the day of Shabbat, and stabbed a boy of nine years – without putting his life in danger, before fleeing to the nearby village of Asira al Qibliyah. Dozens of settlers descended on the village, shooting in the air, breaking windows and overturning cars.

The Jerusalem Post reported comments from the mayor of the city, Hosni Sharaf, who explained that the settler’s raid lasted three hours and that six Palestinians were wounded. According to their statements, Israeli forces did not had enough manpower to prevent the settlers, most men were then in pursuit of the Palestinian assailant.

Discharged from hospital where he was treated for minor injuries, Zeev Sternhell has now expressed himself in front of the press by saying that he will not cease his struggle against settlements. He said however not to blame the settlers, reported Yediot Aharonot. The investigation continues to find those responsible for the attack.