UPDATE 10 am Israel time Wednesday:
The last 12 hours have seen Palestinian Molotov cocktail assaults against an IDF position in Abu Dis, Palestinian “rock” throwing attacks against Israeli buses in Judea and Samaria, and a Palestinian rocket attack against the Eshkol region of southern Israel.
In a startling and an appalling policy turnaround that your humble servant will blog about tomorrow, U.S. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have specifically dropped the following sentences that appeared in their 2008 platform from their 2012 platform: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
One of the landmarks of Israel is the Latrun Christian Monastery built by French Trappist Monks on a lovely hill overlooking the Ayalon Valley (where God made the moon stand still: Joshua 10:12). Located at the base of the long climb into Jerusalem and across the road from the fortress of Latrun from whose high walls the Jordanian legion slaughtered thousands of Jews in 1948 who were attempting to break the siege of Jerusalem, the Monastery has always been a place of critical strategic importance.
Today, however, the Monastery is mainly noted for its olive orchards and vineyards which the monks use to create wonderful oils and wines–and to which your humble servant has been a frequent visitor.
On Monday night, a person, or people, vandalized the Monastery.
That person or group wrote graffiti on the church walls that said among other things (see picture above) that “Jesus is a pig”, and then set fire to one of the main doors of the church. The door was severely damaged in the ensuing fire, but fortunately the inside of the church was unscathed. Whoever perpetrated this despicable act should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The attack itself is reminiscent of vandalism at a mosque in the Palestinian Samarian settlement of Nebi Elias in 2006 where graffiti, written in Hebrew, read “Mohammed is a pig.” On September 11, 2009 “Mohammed is a pig” and “Death to Arabs” were sprayed on the Amir Hassan Mosque in Ramallah.
More recently, in October of last year, the mosque in the northern Galilee Bedouin town of Tuba Zangaria was set on fire and the words “Price Tag” and “Revenge” were painted on the walls (see my blog about this event); (“Price Tag” is used by the Israeli media to describe acts of revenge carried out by Jewish community members in Judea and Samaria in retaliation for violent Palestinian acts committed against the Jewish communities there).
In each of these cases from Latrun to Tuba Zangaria, because the graffiti was in Hebrew and because of the words and phrases used, the immediate assumption was that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) has been a “right-wing Jewish extremist”. Yet remarkably, despite the intensive efforts of Shin Bet and the Israeli police, no indictments have been forthcoming.
This is not to say that suspects have not been detained–especially in the case of Tuba Zangaria. However every “right-wing” suspect at Tuba Zangaria was quickly released when it became increasingly apparent that the mosque attack was not carried out by Jews at all–but by Muslims (your humble servant was one of the first to point to the possibility of this–followed by others: see this article for example that suggests that the Tuba Zangaria graffiti was not written by a Hebrew speaker). Also, the Tuba Zangaria case, as the case of the graffiti in Ramallah, raised the obvious question of how Jews got into the city to vandalize the mosques in the first place?
But questions about who has been perpetrating these crimes did not stop our so-called “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak yesterday who called on “Shin Bet, the police, and state prosecution to tackle Jewish terrorism.” Barak proceeded to bellicosely declare: “This must be fought with an iron fist, and we must put an end to these severe phenomenon that stain the name of the state of Israel. We are obligated to uproot this phenomenon.”
Your humble servant could not agree more that if members of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are committing these vile acts of vandalism, they should be captured, arrested, tried, and sentenced–however, the only evidence that they are involved is purely circumstantial. If indeed, it is Muslims who are committing these acts (what better way to “stain the name of Israel”?), they too should be captured, arrested, tried, and sentenced.
One final point: remember how this blog started today–with descriptions of Palestinian Molotov cocktail assaults, Palestinian “rock” throwing, and Palestinian rocket attacks–when will “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak ever say that these phenomena should be fought with “an iron fist’?
Your humble servant suspects that the answer to that question is “Never.”
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