September 1, 2011 blog 0 Comments

The countdown to Intifada III has stirred the press. With the Sept. 20 UN vote on Palestinian statehood looming, reporters are ramping up their scare stories. A story in left-learning Haaretz generated a jouralistic storm that next hit the New York Times and then The Washington Post

Haaretz started it all Aug. 30 with a headline on “IDF training Israeli settlers ahead of ‘mass disorder’ expected in September.” Citing a document “acquired” by Haaretz, the paper reported new rules of engagement for shooting Palestinians who will be storming settlements after Sept. 20 and discussed plans for equipping settlers with tear gas and stun grenades. The underlying assumption of the IDF, the article says, is “that a Palestinian declaration of independence will cause a public uprising ‘which will mainly cause mass disorder.'”

The Times picked up the story a few hours later, attributing to Shlomo Vankin, security officer of the Yesha Council. Here the emphasis was on settler “rapid response teams.” Adding a new twist to the story, the Times compared the possible post Sept. 20 reaction to the incidents that occurred last June on the Syrian frontier, when protestors crossed into the Golan Heights. The third to last paragraph credits Haaretz with prompting official Israeli statements about settler training.

It took another 24 hours for the Post to report the story, expanding the scope to include Israeli diplomatic preparations for the statehood bid. The Post quoted “senior diplomatic officials” as being resigned to a General Assembly statehood endorsement. The same unnamed official also confirmed that Israel is preparing for multiple “worse case scenarios” that may unfold after the vote, including mass Palestinian marches on checkpoints and settlements.

My own reporting in the settlements during the week of Aug. 12 -19 made it clear that settlement security chiefs were taking the late Sept. vote quite seriously. Security officials in two major settlements told me they were quite busy, running off to meetings with other settlement security directors and the IDF.

I’m certainly planning to be on the scene to record whatever happens. But the most sensible comment I heard was from one prominent blogger, who told me that whenever something is expected, it doesn’t happen, and when it isn’t, it does.