Israelis blast hypocrisy of focus on mosque vandals

Sunday, October 09, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Ever since a mosque in northern Israel was allegedly burned by Jewish vandals last week, Israel's leadership has been flagellating itself and vowing harsh punishment, while the Arabs and international community have been crying foul at the top of their lungs.

But many Israelis, while in total opposition to the mosque incident, say the whole episode is just another example of the double standard they must endure, most often at the hands of their own officials.

Grafitti reading "Price Tag" was spray-painted on the side of the burned mosque in the Galilee town of Tuba Zangria, identifying the attack as the work of a small group of right-wing Jews violently opposed to government policies that endanger Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria - the "settlements."

Even though at least one local resident said he wasn't convinced the fire was set by Jews, Israeli leaders from President Shimon Peres to the nation's chief rabbis visited Tuba Zangria full of contrition. Prime Miniter Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "boiling with anger" over the "shocking" attack.

Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino was even more firm:

"Price Tag incidents are serious and must be eradicated. Attacking religious symbols and holy places is an extremely explosive phenomenon that has implications for the general public of the country."

To be sure, Tuba Zangria and its residents are and always have been loyal to the State of Israel, and an unprovoked Jewish attack on them should be forcefully condemned.

But at the same time, Arab attacks on synagogues and Jewish civilians are taking place all over the country on a regular basis with little or no response from authorities and even less coverage by the media.

For example, Joseph's Tomb in the Samarian town of Nablus, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is desecrated weekly by local Palestinians. As on every other week, Jewish worshippers arriving at Joseph's Tomb last Thursday found the holy site scrawled with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans.

The Rabbis' Council for the Binyamin Region noted that what set apart of the Tubia Zangria mosque incident from the descecration of Joseph's Tomb is that nearly all Israelis condemn the former, while a majority of Arabs support the latter.

The rabbis insisted that the Israeli authorities and media should react just as strongly, if not more so, to the constant violation of Jewish religious freedom.

Religious Israeli lawmakers Michael Ben-Ari and Rabbi Yisrael Eichler suggested to Israel National News that the double standard is a symptom of the Israeli leadership's fear of Muslim threats and international criticism.

"When Jews are hurt everyone is silent. When Arabs are hurt, everyone shouts," noted Ben-Ari.

Rabbi Eichler explained that "just three weeks ago a synagogue in the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem was torched. Even the religious media barely mentioned it. I responded to this severe matter here in the Knesset and I asked where is everyone who yelled against price tag operations when a mosque is targeted. All of a sudden, they're guarding freedom of religion."

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