Thursday, October 06, 2011

Official Muqata Statement: We Condemn Mosque Arson

I was abroad for a bit and didn't have time to blog about this particular, important issue, but didn't want it to pass by without any comment.

This past Sunday evening, someone torched a Bedouin Mosque in the Northern Israel town of "Tuba Zanghariya." Someone left behind some graffiti as well, indicating the arson attack was a "price tag" retaliation for the murder of the Palmers by Palestinian terrorists on Erev Rosh HaShana.
“What I can’t understand is why us? Why of all places would they come here?” asked resident Dr. Muhammad al-Haib, in a plaza outside the scorched entryway of the al-Noor mosque.

In a common sentiment expressed Tuesday, al-Haib said the people of the village are “completely Israeli” and see themselves as having a shared fate with their Jewish neighbors in the surrounding towns.

Al-Haib said the villagers celebrate Independence Day and do not identify with the “Nakba,” the Palestinian day that mourns the founding of the State of Israel.

Like others, al-Haib also expressed a sense of bewilderment and surprise at the suspected arson, rather than a desire for revenge.

“When this happened, people were very angry and asked: ‘Why us?’ We’re together, we’re not fighting one another here. We serve together [in the IDF], we live together, we’re very close. Somebody wrote ‘revenge’ on the wall, but why do you want revenge on me?”

Al-Haib, who serves as the Education Ministry’s national director for education in the Beduin sector, described the village as completely cut off from the greater Arab sector in Israel, with the closest Arab villages over half an hour away, much farther than Rosh Pina, only a couple kilometers away. (JPost)
The official Muqata response is as follows:

1. Torching a Mosque, or any house of worship is wrong. Burning down a mosque makes you no different that the Nazis who burned down synagogues on Krystalnacht and during the Holocaust, and no different than the Palestinian mobs who burned down the synagogues in Gush Katif after the Disengagement. No difference than the Palestinian barbarians who spray pained swastikas on Kever Yosef-Jospeh's Tomb yesterday. It's wrong.

2. Revenge by individuals cannot be tolerated. The State of Israel via the IDF and Security forces is responsible for deterrence, retaliation and revenge. They need to hunt down terrorists, and scare our enemies to the point that they won't dare attack a single Jew.

3. This statement is not apologetic, nor the result of leftwing pressure. The Muqata Blog receives zero funding or advertising from left-wing organizations or the New Israel Fund. This statement is being made because its wrong to burn down Mosques.

Now, having made the above statement, I would like address some of the surrounding issues.

Israeli politicians have been using the above attack as an excuse to attack the right wing in Israel and wax poetic about how the attack directly goes to the heart of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni commented on the incident, saying that if it was indeed a "price tag" act, then it must be condemned.

"Burning mosques contradicts Israel's values as a Jewish state," she said. "Such serious incidents obligate us to conduct a national self-examination." (Haaretz)

Unlike Tzippi Livni, we at the Muqata don't say that "if it were indeed a "price tag" act, then it must be condemned" -- we say clearly, that regardless of WHO did this act, it must be condemned, not only if it was a "price tag" action.

Unlike Tzipi Livni, who runs to mention the Mosque arson attack, she has no condemnation or even a comment about the murder of Asher Palmer and infant son Yehonatan a week earlier -- remember, the arson attack said it was retaliation for the Palmer murder. (Livni's official website and facebook feed have zero mention of it at all).

The Muqata condemns the murder of Jews and publicizes the issue because its important for people to know that Palestinian terrorism is continuing...and the murder of Jews should always be publicized. Livni only finds the time to quasi condemn the Mosque arson attack.

The same goes for Israel's president, Shimon Peres. Our outspoken President also neglected to even mention the murder of the Palmers, and while he's full of shame at the mosque arson attack, there is not one word of mention of the murder of the Palmers -- not on the entire Presidential web-site.

It goes without saying that the 972mag website condemns the mosque arson (Larry Derfner writing about "settler violence" -- surprised?), yet its perfectly abhorent that 972mag totally ignores murder of Jews by Palestinians...and the name "Asher Palmer" doesn't appear anywhere on their website.

That's the difference between the Muqata and 972mag. We condemn and publicize the murder of Jews by Palestinian terrorists, and make sure you read about it. We also condemn the arson of mosques.

And mosque arson is wrong, regardless if carried out by Jewish Israelis...or by 3 Arabs from Hebron.

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aliyah06 said...

Kol haK'vod! You hit the nail on the head--it's WRONG and CRIMINAL no matter whose place of worship it is, and it is up to the state to protect ALL Israelis, including the Beduin of Tuba....and the media and anti-Israel and looney Left rush to judgment is as sickening as the vandalism. One "anti-Zionist" Jew told me the Guardian had identified arrestees as "settlers" and provided a link....unfortunately for her, the Guardian (much to my surprise) said no such thing....but that's what she read into the story because it is her preconceived notion.

Anonymous said...

Whew! I am so relieved at your disclaimer. I know that many of us were concerned that you were receiving funding from the New Israel Fund. That is a load off my mind.

KACH 613 said...

Lets relax!! I would have not put it past the government for one second that they THEY where the ones behind the “arson” They will do anything to turn the people of Israel against the “settlers” then evacuate the violent settlers from the “West Bank” They know that the common Israeli would never want to leave Yehuda & Shamrone. So before we condemn lets find out WHO we should condemn.

Anonymous said...

This will sound like one of those Muslim conspiracy theories from Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia or "Palestine", but... who says settlers were the ones who did it? A graffiti? As far as I know even "palestinians" - some, I know - can write...

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Seth (Avi) Kadish · אבי קדיש said...

Hi Jameel,

Everything you wrote is obviously correct. All murder and arson needs to be loudly condemned and the criminals need to be brought to justice.

That is the difference between us and the Arabs. We condemn Jewish criminals who harm Arabs physically or attack mosques. We put them in jail as soon as we can. We make it clear that they disgust us. We outlaw political parties that promote this (at least on our side). Arab leaders on the other hand proclaim such people heroes, and train their children to follow in their footsteps.

However, I had an experience about a year ago which illustrates something else that you didn’t mention, but is nevertheless important.

The Beduin village of Ibtin is a very small place in the midst of a sea of Jewish towns near Haifa. The residents all serve in the IDF and the village has always promoted coexistence both in word and in deed. One night in the summer of 2010 someone sprayed graffiti all over the mosque of Ibtin, slogans including “price tag” and “there will be war over Judea and Samaria.” (Well, maybe there will be such a war, by why announce it on the walls of the mosque of Ibtin?)

The Friday right after this happened, Rabbi Yair Silverman, a YU musmakh who now lives in Zikhron and has a community there, decided to do something important but quiet. He put together a small group of rabbis to meet with the leaders of the village and the imam, without any press, just because it was the right thing to do. I was one of the people that went.

There was some talk that the rosh yeshivah of Nahalat Yisrael in Kefar Hasidim (the next-door neighbors of Ibtin), four of whose students had been arrested for the arson, would also come that Friday. At least, he had been invited. But the sheikh said that he had spoken to him, and that the rosh yeshivah had said that he couldn’t come because he was far too busy with Misrad ha-Hinnukh, and that he would come the next week.

In the meantime, the Israeli press was full of articles about the four arrested students. Their parents and the rosh yeshivah claimed that they were four innocent boys who were being used as scapegoats by the police, who needed to find someone to blame. They further claimed that it was unheard of for anyone to be held so many days for an act of graffiti. Discrimination! Eventually, the boys were released for lack of evidence. As far as I can remember, in the end no one was ever convicted of the crime.

(Continued below...)

Seth (Avi) Kadish · אבי קדיש said...


But clearly, someone Jewish with a specific political bent sprayed that graffiti on the mosque of Iblin. That much was obvious just from looking at it. Maybe it was these four boys. Maybe it was other students from Nahalat Yisrael. Maybe it was somebody from somewhere else entirely. No one knows, or at least no one is telling. Maybe the rosh yeshivah is absolutely right about the innocence of these four students. But there is something else that he was clearly wrong about.

The rosh yeshivah didn’t visit Iblin the next week like he said he would. But a senior representative of the Kfar Hasidim youth village did go. When he asked the rosh yeshivah to go with him, the latter sarcastically told him that he was a shafan (a frightened rabbit), for feeling the need to apologize to the residents of Iblin and condemn the graffiti.

Yeshivat Nahalat Yisrael is very popular today in some Religious Zionist circles, and its students come from all over the country (including many from the communities of Yesha). It is part of the new breed of yeshivah high schools where secular studies are reduced to the absolute minimum, a kind of neo-hasidic joy is encouraged, and a very specific political point of view is so fully indoctrinated that it part of the very atmosphere. When the rosh yeshivah claimed that his students couldn’t possibly have done such a thing, others familiar with the yeshivah were not convinced. Surely, if the act was so wrong that his students couldn’t possibly have done it, then what was so wrong with visiting Ibtin afterwards?

I live in the Galilee, and like many others I have absolutely no illusions about the evil that could happen here. It doesn’t have to happen, but it could. As long as Jews and Arabs in the Galilee show respect for one another as human beings, there will continue to be a great deal of beauty here. But the day that basic human respect dies on either side, the Galilee will turn into hell on earth.

That is why condemning the arson of a mosque isn’t the only thing that needs to be done. No, not just that. In addition, we need to make sure that the Religious Zionist schools where our children are educated make this clear, and that their rabbinic role models are men who show full respect and good will to Arabs as well as Jews not just in their words, but in their deeds and in their lives. And the fact is that many of our schools and rabbinic role models are not currently like this. So we have a job to do that goes beyond condemnation.

Gemar Hatimah Tovah.

YY said...

Great post. This kind of thing is very important, because it seems like the leftist and mainstream press is constantly posting things about settlers supposedly setting fire to olive groves or (more recently) beating up leftists, but most of the time there seems to be no response to these articles on sources like Arutz Sheva. It's important that people like you condemn such acts (when they actually seem to have really happened). That's the problem about claims about settlers attacking or setting fire to things -- one never knows if they were made up or not.

Anonymous said...

If some persons claim that the things they've read instruct them to take possession of a Land and control and run it, then... they should control it and run it. If they didn't previously obliterate that mosque, it means they accept the mosque as a mosque in that place.

if the mosque becomes damaged - whether it be by attack, or flood or lightning - it is need of repair or replacement.

And the individuals who are convinced that they were directed by Divine Authority to control the details of what happens in that Land, ought to repair or replace it.

Who else do they want to do it?

josh said...

What you are saying is nice, but you are falling into the same trap of putting the whole religious right-wing on the defensive.

I like what Michael Ben Ari has been saying. The vandalism is wrong, but he will only join the condemnation party when the same is also demanded from the other side of the political spectrum when a synagogue is torched or gravestones on Har HaZeitim are vandalized.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the last line of the post. I know you write well, so when you trail your sentence off with "...or three Arabs from Hebron," are you suggesting that these 3 Arabs caused a mosque fire? Are you suggesting they caused this mosque fire?
I'm not being facetious, but can you clarify what you're trying to say with that remark? I must be missing something.

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