Showing Tolerance for Intolerance

JERUSALEM, Oct 10, 2011 (IPS) – “On Saturday, we as a nation atoned for our sins. I as a Jew feel ashamed of myself. I’m asking for forgiveness,” declared Ron Hulday, mayor of this mixed city, immediately at the closing of the Day of Atonement.

As Jews fasted and prayed to amend for their past behaviour, vandals, presumably Jewish, desecrated tombstones in two cemeteries of the Jewish-Arab city, one Muslim, another Christian, with slanderous tags against Arabs and “Russians”, the country’s largest minorities.

One in five Israelis is an Arab; there are more than one-and-a-half million citizens from the former Soviet Union.

Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar. According to tradition, God “seals” the Book of Life into which each person’s fate is inscribed for the coming year in accordance to his or her past deeds.

“The perpetrators are weak-kneed terrorists,” fumed former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, “for the dead cannot defend their name.” Sheikh Ahme Abu Ajwa, president of the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, joined the chorus of unanimous condemnations: “This is an attempt by extremists to incite the Arabs.”

The desecrations weren’t just isolated incidents. They share a common modus operandi.

What’s been labelled by settlers as a “price tag” for “eye-for-eye” retribution against Palestinians collectively accused by them of violent actions perpetrated by isolated Palestinians against Israelis, has become not merely the “plague” of the day, but “policy”.

In just the past fortnight, there were numerous such attacks. In the West Bank, according to police sources, young extreme right-wing settler activists attempted to torch a Palestinian village mosque, and sprayed its walls with injurious “death to Arabs” and “price tag” graffiti, their signature.

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Categories: Israel, Middle East

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