It’s long been said that extremists hijack the headlines. Their message is raw, sexy, controversial. Whatever they do and say is splashed in bold print in newspapers, on television, and online. It’s true of fashion designers who shock us with vulgar clothes, with writers who punch us below the belt, with artists whose sole aim is to jolt rather than entertain.
Extremists in politics and religion are the most dangerous. They might be few, they may not represent the majority, but their actions are deadly. I’m talking about the right-winged men and women that live in the settlements of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). These men and women, typically orthodox Jews, get up in the dead of night, then cross into Arab villages. Once there, they desecrate Moslem mosques, Arab homes and public buildings. They spray-paint graffiti with the words: “PRICE TAG,” “DEATH TO ARABS,” “ARABS ARE PIGS.” The ‘price tag’ refers to taking revenge on Arabs’ terrorist acts against Jews.
It’s back to an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
Israel’s security forces is slow to react to these acts of violence. This emboldens the Jewish settlers to venture even farther from their home and to widen their strikes. Three month ago, Jewish men entered Gush Halab, a peaceful Arab village in Galilee, about an hour’s drive from my home. At dawn, the settlers vandalized more than 50 cars, broke windows, punctured tires, sprayed messages of hate and escaped undetected. Only this time the village security camera caught them in the act. But since the men and women wore hoodies, they could not be identified. And nothing became of it.
These extremists don’t tolerate anyone who’s not Jewish. They hate Moslems and they hate Christians. And they hate Jews who don’t think like them or support them. They’ve gone as far as saying they’ll harm Israeli soldiers if they try to stop them.
Israel’s military is busy protecting its borders and people. The police has its hands full with crime. So, it seems, catching these Jewish terrorists is not a priority. There’s fierce talk about it in the news. Elite intelligence officers come on the show and condemn these acts. They say they must catch these hoodlums before someone gets killed. But little gets done. I’m not saying that Israel’s security forces are looking the other way. But it’s clear not enough manpower, resources, and urgency is spent on catching the attackers.
The attacks have crossed into the Green Line. In other words, more and more assaults are committed in Israel proper: in Faradis, a Druze village near Haifa, an attack on a church in Beer-Sheba, cars smashed in Jaffa outside Tel-Aviv.
So far the Arabs are holding their fire. They assembled protest marches through their villages. They met with the Israeli media to show off the damage. And their restraint. They’re good at public relations. It’s doubtful the Moslem elders and sheiks will be able to hold back the young for long.
I’m worried that if these men aren’t caught and brought to justice, and punished — the situation will escalate.
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow. A lot will be on the agenda. It is only 20 years ago that the Vatican recognized the State of Israel. The Vatican has still to atone for the Christian atrocities upon Jews through the ages. The Pope will want to continue to strengthen the bridge between Christianity and Judaism. But I’m sure he will raise his concerns over attacks on churches in the Holy Land.
Jerusalem is welcoming the Pope. Flags of peace are everywhere. White doves will be released into the sky.
Extremists of any persuasion: Arabs, Jews, Christians, atheists — they all belong in the extreme corner of jail.
Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.
He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com
or at BN.com