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Fresh price tag attack against Jerusalem monastery; no arrests made

Another “price tag” hate crime was carried out today against the Franciscan monastery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The monastery was spray painted with slogans against Christianity and Jesus. Names of Jewish outposts in the West Bank were also sprayed, indicating that settlement supporters carried out the attack. This is the latest hate crime in a series of attacks on Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The last took place only a month ago, when the door of the Latrun Monastery was set on fire.

In February 2012, Dr. Marc Gopin and I wrote about the attack on the Baptist church in Jerusalem. Back then, price tag attacks against churches were new. The police issued a statement that they were investigating the incident and would prosecute those responsible. However, little has been done against the perpetrators. This is not surprising, considering the number of price tag attacks against Muslim sites in the past few years, which resulted in almost no arrests. I wrote in October last year about the repeated attacks on mosques that went unnoticed. Now, it seems that we are witnessing the same story all over again.

I find it hard to believe that the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service are unable to find the perpetrators. Many consider the Shin Bet to be one of the top security agencies in the world. However it seems that its ability is limited to arresting Arab suspects, and it is unable to overcome an ethnic bias. Nationalist crimes carried by Jews against Muslims and Christians receive no more than condemnations. The offenders against Christians and Muslims know that they are not going to be held accountable. I am willing to bet money that no one will be prosecuted for this attack. Unfortunately, I also believe that attacks against Christian and Muslim holy sites will continue to take place.

Israel is in dire need for a major reform. It needs to transform from a state that exists to only protect the Jewish people, Jewish sites and Jewish identity to become a state willing to respect and protect all its citizens equally. Israel cannot continue to claim democracy when vandalism against a Jewish site ends with immediate arrests and prosecution while vandalism against Muslim and Christian sites are met with no more than condemnations and lip service.

Democracy is more than holding regular elections. It also entails the development of a ‘democratic culture’ within society and creating a system for managing difference without returning to violence.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Israel’s claim to democracy is challenged by the fact that non-Jewish citizens don’t feel the same security Jews feel in Israel. An ethnic democracy favouring one religion and one ethnicity, and promoting the superiority of one identity is no democracy. However, perhaps it is too much to ask from Israel to transform into a true  democracy within the Green Line, while the occupation is still intact in the West Bank.

Price tag attack on J’lem church provokes religious condemnation
WATCH: Three ‘Price Tag’ attacks in as many days
Shin Bet impotent in face of settler “Price Tag” attacks

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    1. Sharon Benheim

      Agree. This is heartbreaking and I totally agree with what you have written.

      Reply to Comment
    2. david shalev, esq.

      The fact that this commentator focuses on settlers spraying graffiti (which hasn’t been proven yet!) while tens of thousands of Arabs are dying in intratribal warfare speaks volumes about the moral gap between the two parties.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        “thousands of Arabs are dying in intratribal warfare”
        And this does happen where in Israel?
        Hint: This is an Israeli website with focus on things happening there and the occupied territories.

        Reply to Comment
      • “the moral gap between the two parties”? You are going to aggregate all Jews and all Arabs–in the world–and say “we are better than you?” This counts as legal reasoning in the State of Israel, Esq.?

        Reply to Comment
        • david shalev, esq.

          Yes, it’s called comparative analysis and is at the basis of any evaluation of international relations.
          My basic message is that Israel is not pristine, but nevertheless has a record light years ahead of its neighbors.
          Also Israeli lawyers are called advocates. Esq. is an American term. Nice try though.

          Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            If you want an article on Syria or indepth analysis, I can name 10 news agencies off the top of my head which has a very indepth analysis and reportage. If I want news on Syria, I go to these websites. If I want news and analysis about Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories, I come here as other news agencies rarely focus on the domestic issues there. If you don’t want to read about settlers, Israel or Palestine, and would rather read more about Syria, then please head over to CNN, Aljazeera, BBC News, Guardian, Independent and so on. Stop wasting your time complaining on a website which focuses primarily on life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
    3. david shalev, esq.

      This site routinely discusses things other than Israel. You need to get your facts checked.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        It’s wearisome, this tactic you have of pointing in another direction to distract attention from the subject of a piece. You want an article on Syria? Google it. This is about settlers who paint rude slogans on buildings holy to others when they’ve a gripe and more importantly, the fact that those perpetrators hardly ever get caught. On the other hand, try it on a synagogue and see how quick they’ll have the daubers by the scruff of the neck.

        Reply to Comment
    4. ish yehudi

      the vandalism is despicable, a desecration of G-ds name and more… but in terms of why they don’t catch these guys (not always true- i saw on channel two them catching a 19 year old writing death to arabs on a train stop) is b/c the shin bet and other security forces are largely focused on violent plots/ actions. As gross and upsetting as these vandalisms are– the amount of investment it will take to go after them when they’re focuses are on real violent threats is understandable.. As they said in Big Lebowski when his car was stolen— “we have a crack team of detectives working on it right now.” I’m sure they are much more concerned with catching the taxi that plowed through 4 soldiers on the side of the road tonight- and justifiably so.
      I wish they would catch em too- but there are sometimes bigger fish to fry (not in terms of international disgrace)

      Reply to Comment
    5. “Israel is in dire need for a major reform. It needs to transform from a state that exists to only protect the Jewish people, Jewish sites and Jewish identity to become a state willing to respect and protect all its citizens equally.” Which means actualizing the commitment to full equality in social and political rights, as affirmed in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. This is a crisis in Israeli right jurisprudence. The core legal ground for turning this around comes from Israel’s founding. If a path to honor the words therein cannot be found, discrimination will seep into Jewish Israel as well; witness the Boycott law, and Ben Gurion University’s Political Science Department.

      Ish Yehudi: “I’m sure they are much more concerned with catching the taxi that plowed through 4 soldiers on the side of the road tonight”–hate must be fought on all fronts; chosing only one race/religion to defend will keep the other hates alive.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Beverly

      I agree with the comments made, however I would add that even Jews in Israel do not feel particularly ‘protected’ when it comes to the police. The excuses always turn to the issue of bigger problems, more violent crimes–but I think the bottom line is that a society that functions fairly does so because it is happening across the board, protecting everyone equally and understanding that policing the crimes that don’t necessarily cause bodily harm is in fact linked to being able to prevent and minimize ‘higher’ crimes. Israel has very good laws, but little enforcement, and everyone knows it. Therefore, people make well-calculated decisions that they will not be pursued and go ahead with such crimes. Frustrating.

      Reply to Comment