I wonder: Who are those young Jews, lugging cans of spray paint and gasoline, making their way to an Arab village under cover of darkness? What are they thinking as they plan to slink into the narrow alleyways and spray obscene slogans on the walls, vandalize the vehicles and set fire to houses of worship, Muslim or Christian? What drives them? Do they get a kick out of sowing fear in the hearts of children and adults cringing in dark rooms on the other side of the walls? Do they spraypaint their “price tag” obscenities in anger? Are they motivated by profound anxiety? Sheer joy? A sense of mission? Do they operate on their own in haphazard, piecemeal fashion, or are they second-guessing their rabbis and seeking glory in a wider settler milieu? Do they feel any qualms when they smash a window, pour fuel into a house of worship, toss in a burning rag and watch the flames roaring up to the rooftops? Do they enjoy the sound of air escaping from tires they have ripped? Do they feel relief when the vandalism is over? Do they stop on their way back to their illegal outpost to smoke a cigarette, pat each other on the back, share a joke or two? And when they get back, after hiding the cans and the knives, a moment before they go to bed, do they pray? In 2008, settlers coined the phrase “price tag” for these racist, hate crimes. In 2013, international observers recorded 339 cases in the West Bank and in Israel proper.

I want to know: What do the mothers and fathers of these hatefilled vandals feel? Are they proud? Do they encourage their children, wink and pinch their cheeks during the Sabbath meal, cheering on their blind, indiscriminate violence against people innocent of any crime – besides being “other”? I ask: Who are the people who send these young men to carry out acts of terror against the Arabs? Who encourages them with religious rulings or political incitement? What sermons do they hear in the synagogues? What lessons in the yeshivot? What commandments as they leave for an Arab village in the West Bank or Israel proper? I refuse to accept that the IDF, “the most moral army in the world,” and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), one of the world’s most effective agencies, can’t handle these Jewish thugs.

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