On Yom Kippur, Muslim and Christian graves in Jaffa were vandalized, and
graffiti were left on gravestones calling for “death to the Arabs” and “tag
mehir” (“price tag”).
There could be no greater desecration on the
holiest of Jewish holidays.
Only a week before, Jews set fire to a mosque
in the Beduin village of Tuba Zanghariya. The zealots and their many allies set
fire not just to a Muslim holy place, but risk setting fire fire to the Zionist
cause that was, and still is, based on fundamental Jewish and humanitarian
The atrocity of burning a sacred structure and scriptures has not
prompted the outrage it should have. Yes, President Shimon Peres, the chief
rabbis and political leaders came to condemn the act and identify with the
victims in the Beduin village.
Everyone and his brother emphasized the
loyalty of the Beduin to Israel. As if it is a matter of good Muslims or bad
Muslims. Others condemned the act as dangerous to Jews, as it could deteriorate
into a cycle of violence, thus overlooking the moral atrocity of burning a holy
Indeed it’s not a matter of bad or good Muslims, it is a matter of
bad Jews, those who committed these “price tag” acts are from a moral standpoint
not Jews at all – although they are backed tacitly and even openly by radical
rabbis, mostly in the West Bank. The Tuba Zanghariya terror was not an isolated
incident, “price tag” attacks on Arab property are almost routine in the West
Bank – burning fields, uprooting olive trees, vandalizing houses, burning
We must call this phenomena by name if we want to fight it –
this is plainly put: Jewish fascism. If this cancer spreads it will endanger the
Jewish-democratic nature of Israel. It is a danger greater than Hamas and Iran
put together, as dangers from within always are, as racism always is more
dangerous to the racist than to its victims.
The Jewish people are the
first to know this, and as historical victims of racism, creating Israel in
defiance of it, we should be most sensitive to racist expressions from within
our own society, and we must eradicate this danger.
This plague exists on
three levels: among the general population, among the extreme Right and perhaps
most dangerously among the silent, complacent majority, including our government
that is hesitant to fight it head on.
Among Israelis in general we hear
far too often parochial talk, pejorative definitions of Arabs such as
“Arabushism” and demands for “Hebrew labor”; on soccer fields, the chants of
“Deaths to Arabs,” led by the choir of Beitar Jerusalem; and 46 percent of
Israelis admit in polls that they would not rent to Arabs, and many refuse to
A racist ideology is preached by the extreme Right, those who
are the ideological cohorts of the settler who was arrested on suspicion of
setting the fire in Tuba Zanghariya. It was the first time that “price tag”
struck within the Green Line – it has a glorious record in the West Bank. Such
was the case in 2010, after the announcement of the settlement freeze, a mosque
in Kafr Yussuf was put on fire, and writing left on its wall: “We shall burn you
all – wait for price tag.”
We waited and it came in abundance, sometimes
on a daily basis.
These atrocities are sometimes led by ideologues.
According to Ma’ariv’s wellplaced journalist Nadav Shragai, “price tag” is
inspired by the teaching of Rabbis David Dudkavich, Yitzhak Ginzburg and Yitzhak
Shapira, heads of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, the same ideological
publishing house of the racist book Torat Hamelech
that calls for the killing of
These religious elements go hand in hand with those religious
groups that call tacitly or even openly for a halachic state. Haredi leaders who
call to obey the laws of the Bible, rather than the laws of the land, those who
constantly criticize our courts and attack our High Court of
These stands and rhetoric are followed
by racist legislation
generally initiated by Avigdor Lieberman’s disciples in Israel Beiteinu.
are the variety of laws that demand from Arabs to take a loyalty oath to
Jewish state, or lose their right to vote. The same goes for legislation
designed to oust all Arab members of Knesset on accusations of treason.
MKs are not exactly the greatest lovers of Zion, and identify sometimes
exceedingly with their brethren beyond the Green Line. Yet the existence
free Arab Israeli vote and their elected lawmakers is one of the
our democracy. A democracy we cannot afford to betray.
Much of this stems
from the occupation of the West Bank – where we dominate the daily lives
than two million Palestinians. Where almostactivity, requires Israeli
It is enough to watch the checkpoints
on the way from
Bethlehem to Jerusalem where many hundreds stand in line for hours,
cages, like cattle, to wait to be checked and allowed into Israel.
Palestinians suffer from it, and our young soldiers who do this for
reasons, are not less affected in their young minds and souls.
ongoing occupation of the West Bank also endangers our Jewish,
in another way. If an independent Palestinian state, alongside Israel,
be established, we will loose our majority between the sea and the river
therefore stop being a Jewish state. As the creation of the state of
is not foreseeable, especially in the days of Netanyahu’s government,
and as we
will not in all likelihood grant equal rights to Palestinians, we will
our state’s democratic nature. The writing is on the wall, on the wall
mosque in Tuba Zanghariya – ”price tag,” only the price may very well be
Probably is most dangerous thing is the
complacent reaction of the
political leadership to this moral deterioration. For reasons of
leaders and our government are generally indifferent in face of this
If we want to remain a Jewish and
democratic country, we have to
fight Jewish racism – this should take the form of education,
legislation and accommodation with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu constantly demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a
state. The time has come for him, for us, to do just that. It is a
matter of our
very soul, character, strength and morality.The writer is the president
of the Peres Center for Peace and served as Israel’s chief negotiator
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