On Sunday a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangharia was attacked by unknown, but presumably Jewish assailants.
The Mosque was severely damaged. It appears highly likely that this attack was another in a series of attacks cynically labelled ‘Price Tag’ by Jewish Right Wing extremists.
Their avowed motivation is to make the Israeli government ‘pay’ for any actions this self-appointed group deems to be against the interests of settlers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) or which this groups believes to be even the hint of a settlement freeze or preparation for eventual withdrawal.
Mainly religiously motivated, this group believes that Judea-Samaria is a God-given land which the Jewish people are not just entitled to settle but are duty-bound to do so.
The village of Tuba Zangharia is in Israel. An attack on any religious place of worship by Jews is extremely rare in Israel itself.
The Bedouin have a long tradition of support for the State of Israel, serving in the IDF. There is no logical reason, let alone justification for this attack.
Let me make this quite clear. This attack and all the others, wherever they may be, are shameful. I have written before about ‘ashamed Jews’ whose distorted view of Israel leads them to supports its enemies. I am a proud Jew and proud of Israel.
But I am ashamed of this action and those that have gone before.
Immediately that the attack became known the Israeli government and a consensus of MK’s across the political and religious spectrum condemned it utterly.
President Peres went with both of Israel’s Chief Rabbis and leaders of the Muslim and Christian faiths to the village.
This is what he said:
At the start of my remarks I wanted to express my profound shock from the horrible attack on the Mosque in Tuba Zangria which took place today.
It is unconscionable that a Jew would harm something that is holy to another religion. This act is not-Jewish, illegal, immoral, and brings upon us heavy shame. I strongly condemn this horrible act in every language. This is not only a difficult day for the residents of Tuba Zangria, it is a difficult day for all Israeli society. As the President of Israel, during these days of introspection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I call upon all to denounce these terrible acts. These acts, destroy relations between us and our neighbors, and between the various religions in Israel.
We will not allow extremists and criminals to undercut the need to live together equally in equality and mutual respect. Arabs and Jews as one. I am sure that the Israeli police and security forces will apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice.
We must all stand behind them in an effort to preserve human dignity and respect for the law.
Both Chief Rabbis stressed that such actions are in direct violation of Jewish Law let alone human decency. It is actually one of the worst offences a Jew can commit. To damage a holy site of any faith is an offence against God.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Amar said, “The perpetrators have wounded the heart of us all.”
This is what Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said:
I came here to express my revulsion at this wretched act of burning a place holy to the Muslim people…
Seventy years ago the Holocaust, the biggest tragedy in our history, began with the torching of synagogues during Kristallnacht.
We are still living this trauma. And in the state of Israel, we will not allow a Jew to do something like this to Muslims.
And this is where I have an issue with comparisons to Nazis.
There is a superficial connection to Kristallnacht when thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned.
But on that night in 1938 hundreds of brownshirts as an instrument of government policy caused, death and destruction, nationwide, on a huge scale on a host of trumped up charges against the entire Jewish community. Kristallnacht was the prelude to the Shoah and the one event that led to thousands attempting to flee and sending their children on kindertransports.
The series of events in Israel aimes almost exclusively at mosques is not government sanctioned policy and has been condemned in the strongest terms.
For any Israeli, let alone a Chief Rabbi, to compare these acts to Nazi crimes is very dangerous. Firstly it is not true. It is not true because however reprehensible this is, it does not compare in scale or intent to Nazism. Those responsible are a small minority. Germans in 1938 were not ashamed of Kristallnacht; they thought the Jews had it coming.
The denizens of Rosh Pina came out on a solidarity march to protest the arson attack. There was no equivalent to Rosh Pina in Nazi Germany.
Rabbi Metzger certainly did not intend to be helpful to antisemites, anti-Zionists and the extreme Left in Israel by using language they would approve of and use themselves.
What Rabbi Metzger did was to find the most extreme way to express how he felt about such an enormity, and so he drew from the Jewish experience to relate that feeling of empathy.
I believe he was wrong to use Kristallnacht. We have seen enough debasement of language by Jew-haters: apartheid, Nazi, genocide, holocaust, massacre, racism. All these terms are debased when the people who use them are often the chief practitioners and most egregious criminals such as Ahmadinejad, Hamas and Hizbullah. Their hyperbole debases these words and renders them useless. Just as Durban I, II and III debases the concept of Human Rights.
And the way the language is debased is to use the most extreme terms for each and every act which, mainly Israel, carries out to protect itself from the aggression of these same language-debasers.
I understand what Rabbi Metzger tried to convey but I believe he was wrong.
The government, police and army are determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is vital they do so and give them exemplary sentences. If they are let off lightly, as has previously happened, this will be morally obnoxious and damage Israel’s democracy.
In the JPost article cites below “Analysis: Jewish terrorism gaining steam’ Yaakov Katz, despite an idiomatically infelicitous headline, expresses his fear that the Far Right is gaining ground and their target is not always mosques but also olive trees and even on Left Wing activists.
The Israeli government and its people must act swiftly.
Yet again, I cannot agree with Katz’s use of ‘terrorism’. These people are politically motivated vicious vandals. They are not terrorists. When synagogues in the UK are smashed and daubed, this is called an anti-Semitic attack; it is not terrorism.
No-one has died and no-one has been directly attacked. This is about property. It’s an attempt to foment inter-communal violence. It is not terrorism. At least not yet. To call it such debases real terrorism and hands the usual suspects an open goal in which to justify their demonisation of all Israeli Jews.
It is sad, but predictable, that some members of the Bedouin village saw fit to degrade themselves to the level of the mosque attackers by torching public buildings in their own town. They fell into the trap laid by the arsonists.
In their natural eagerness to express their moral indignation, politicians, clerics and journalists must avoid confirming and validating the animus of those already minded to hate Israel and Jews.