Israeli Jews were reportedly responsible for two attacks perpetrated against Palestinians in recent days.

Last Thursday, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a taxi carrying six Palestinians outside the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin. The ensuing explosion caused the taxi to flip over and resulted in the injury of several of the passengers. The assailants were aware that the victims were Palestinians since the attack took place during the day and the vehicle was yellow with green license plates, characteristic of Palestinian taxis.

Late Thursday night a mob of Jewish youths attacked three Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Zion Square and yelled anti-Arab slogans, including “Death to the Arabs.”

An eyewitness related how dozens of Jewish youths attacked the Arabs and continued to beat one of them after he had fallen to the ground. The Arab youth quickly lost consciousness and his body began to twitch as the Jewish youths continued to chant “Death to the Arabs.” People who tried to resuscitate the Arab were mocked by the crowd of Jewish youths.

These two incidents come on the backdrop of a long list of “price tag” attacks apparently perpetrated by Jewish extremists against Palestinians.

In the wake of the sharp rise of attacks purportedly carried out by Jews against Palestinians (though no suspects have been convicted so far) the US State Department in its 2011 Country Report on Terrorism, for the first time unequivocally defined attacks by Jews on Palestinians as “terrorist incidents,” erasing the distinction made in previous reports between “settler violence” perpetrated by Jews and terrorism perpetrated by Palestinians. Ten mosques were either vandalized or firebombed in Jerusalem and the West Bank during 2011, according to the report, up from six in 2010 and one in 2009.

As should be expected considering their severity, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon and other senior officials strongly condemned the attacks.

However, while our government leaders have been outspoken against all forms of Jewish terrorism directed toward Palestinians, there appears to be a worryingly high level of tolerance – whether explicit or implicit – for such despicable acts of violence, even at a time when Palestinian terrorism is at a low.

Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans are known to stage postgame rallies during which “death to Arabs” or other such chants of incitement are voiced, as police and security officials stand by and do nothing.

In consecutive annual surveys taken by the Israel Democracy Institute, surprisingly large proportions of Israeli Jews support encouraging Arab Israelis to emigrate (53 percent); favor excluding Arabs from the decision- making process even on socioeconomic issues and questions related to governance (69.5%); and reject the claim that Arab citizens of Israel suffer from discrimination (51.5%).

It is safe to assume that Jewish views of Palestinians living in the West Bank are even more negative.

Too often, politicians and leaders denounce Jewish attacks on Palestinians not because they are morally reprehensible, but because they could ignite a third intifada.

Admittedly, Palestinians have chosen terrorism as a central element in their push for national self-determination.

In the most recent Palestinian elections held in 2006, a majority voted into power Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israeli Jews. And the three parties and 11 MKs representing Arab Israelis in the Knesset are situated beyond the ideological pale, virulently opposed to the basic tenets of Zionism.

Nevertheless, a clear distinction must be made between legitimate acts of self-defense aimed at protecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and pointless, immoral acts of violence and bigoted, undemocratic sentiments directed against Arabs and Palestinians that undermine Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The trend of tolerance toward these sentiments and actions has to stop.

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