Thursday 22 December 2011

'An organised hypocrisy'

For years a small group of nationalist religious Jewish youth has been carrying out ‘price tag’ acts of vandalism to demonstrate to the Israeli government that it cannot surrender to international demands regarding control of the Land of Israel without causing problems with its own people.

Over the past month those attacks have escalated, culminating in a raid on an Israeli army outpost in the Jordan Valley that had allegedly been tasked with forcibly uprooting a nearby Jewish community.

These attacks are regrettable and they are wrong but they have not so far resulted in a single casualty. However, they have exposed the deep-rooted hypocrisy of the international community and local Arabs when relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Last Tuesday, the four current European members of the UN Security Council – France, Britain, Germany and Portugal – released a statement that included a detailed condemnation of the ‘price tag’ attacks:

One of the themes that emerged was the severely damaging effect that increased settlement construction and settler violence is having on the ground and on the prospects of a return to negotiations.

By contrast, the international community has never viewed Palestinian terrorism, which has claimed the lives of many Israeli Jews, as impeding peace efforts. Terrorist murders of Jews usually galvanizes the world to urge Israeli to make greater concessions.

Deadlocks in the peace process are always blamed on Israel, while systematic Palestinian intransigence and officially-sanctioned violence is swept under the rug.

Israeli Arab lawmakers succeeded in introducing a new Knesset bill demanding harsh punishment for ‘price tag’ attacks. The bill calls for tough punishment for vandalism against any holy sites, be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish. It also stipulates imprisonment for incitement against another religion or its adherents.

The explanatory notes to the bill, however, make clear that the bill is not as unbiased as it would appear. The sole target of the bill is the Jewish nationalist movement:

In the wake of the wave of arson against mosques, this proposal is inevitable and we cannot settle for weak condemnations.

The two MKs who submitted the bill, Ahmed Tibi and Ibrahim Sarsour, have for decades been at the forefront of fomenting hatred for Israel’s Jews and dismissing Arab Muslim violence. Tibi in particular has cried out loudly whenever a Muslim leader is arrested for inciting violence against Jews and has been conspicuously silent when Muslim vandalise Jewish holy sites, such as the weekly defacement of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.

Israel, meanwhile, has strongly condemned ‘price tag’ vandalism, demonstrating once again that it is not like its enemies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to take firm action against the perpetrators, as he would against any criminal, and has condemned their actions as immoral, despite the possible legitimacy of their political concerns.

A group of students from a Torah academy cleaned up a mosque that had been vandalized. Rabbi Yair Ansbacher of the Eitan Academy in Maaleh Adumim told Israel National News:

We discussed the issue and decided to express our total opposition to these acts by going to a mosque and cleaning it up.

Rabbi Ansbacher lamented that the positive actions of his students had been totally ignored by the media which, instead, focused its attention on the Jewish vandals in an effort to paint all Jewish settlers as hostile and aggressive.

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