Israeli settler violence exposes hypocrisy

Thursday, December 22, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

A small group of nationalist religious Jewish youth have for years 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 been escalating, culminating in a raid of an Israeli army outpost in the Jordan Valley that had purportedly been tasked with forcibly uprooting a nearby Jewish community.

While the "price tag" attacks are regrettable and raise the specter of future civil war, they have also served to expose the deep-rooted hypocrisy of the international community and local Arabs when relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

On 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, which have yet to produce a single casualty.

"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," read the European statement.

By contrast, the international community has never viewed Palestinian terrorism, which has claimed the lives of many Israeli Jews, as impeding peace efforts. In fact, the terrorist murder of Jews is usually used to push for even greater Israeli concessions as the need for peace becomes increasingly urgent.

This is in line with the general international position that any true deadlock in the peace process can only by Israel's fault, while systematic Palestinian intransigence and officially-sanctioned violence is swept under the rug.

Israeli Arab lawmakers also got in on the action, introducing a new Knesset bill demanding harsh punishment for "price tag" attacks.

The bill is cleverly worded to appear unbiased. It calls for tough punishment for vandalism against any holy sites, be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish. It also stipulates jail time for anyone who incites against another religion or its adherents.

However, the explanatory notes that accompanied the bill made clear that its sole target 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," it read.

Furthermore, the two lawmakers who submitted the bill, MKs 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 Israel arrests a Muslim leader for inciting against Jews, and has been conspicuously silent when Muslim vandalize Jewish holy sites, such as the weekly defacement of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.

Meanwhile, Israel has sought to demonstrate that it is not like its enemies by strongly countering the "price tag" phenomenon.

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 pre-army Torah academy in Judea and Samaria showed their contriteness by visiting and cleaning up a nearby mosque that had been vandalized.

"We discussed the issue and decided to express our total opposition to these acts by going to a mosque and cleaning it up," Rabbi Yair Ansbacher of the Eitan Academy in Maaleh Adumim told Israel National News.

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

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