Presented below are two posts which originally appeared a week ago …. in case you missed them, you can get a pretty good idea what awaits Mr. Obama on the streets of Jerusalem … and what we can expect from his visit.
Presented below are two posts which originally appeared a week ago …. in case you missed them, you can get a pretty good idea what awaits Mr. Obama on the streets of Jerusalem … and what we can expect from his visit.
According to The Jordan Times, the accident occurred as the bus descended toward the Jordan Valley “and slammed into a passenger vehicle causing it to overturn. The bus then slammed into a truck and the two vehicles crashed resulting in the deaths and the high number of injuries.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better morning than this,” wrote Facebook user Kobi Yaacov Saroussiunder an item about the accident on the Facebook page of Israel’s Channel 2, “Shame there isn’t another zero at the end [of the number of victims].”
Kobi Yaacov Saroussi is disappointed there weren’t ten times as many deaths.
There were dozens more similar comments. Facebook user Demri Alice wrote “Finally it’s possible to ‘Like’ something,” to which she added a smiley face.
In horrifying deaths of Palestinians, Demri Alice finally find something to “Like” on Facebook.
Many were brief. Tomer Reuven simply commented “Very good.”
“Great! Let’s hope everyone on the bus was an Arab!” said Eitan Wolfer Eifergan.
“I’ve never tolerated Arabs,” wrote Kobi Noga, “I’m an extreme rightist. We should kill them all.”
Kobi Noga, self-described “extreme rightist,” thinks all Arabs should be killed.
Shenhav Sharbit, using the perjorative term “arboushim” – roughly the equivalent of the N-word – said Arabs could “all die” and that was “all good.”
Shenhav Sharbit uses a racist epithet for Arabs to express her joy at their deaths.
In a screenshot from his Facebook page, Chen Shaptiban is seen in a uniform bearing the tree symbol indicating that he is a member of the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade.
Among the most horrifying of the many horrifying comments were those of Chen Shaptiban who, based on a photo on his Facebook page, appears to be a member of the Israeli army’s notorious “Golani brigade” which was recently in the news because some of its members have posted shocking photographs on Instagram. One of Shaptiban’s reactions to the road accident was this:
May all Arabs die. There is no place for Arabs in the land of Israel. Maybe it sounds terrible to some people in north Tel Aviv, but they too do not deserve to live in this state, and yes, I am a proud racist, proud of my state and the soldiers guarding it!
Some Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli Jews objected to the pervasive racism. Facebook user Marwan Momo, for example, wrote, “You keep crying Holocaust Holocaust but look how you talk!”
Gilad Kapeliuk wrote, “The sickening racism does not surprise me …. I’m ashamed to be part of this nation.”
But Avigail Mishaiv replied to Kapeliuk, “Gaza is waiting for you with open arms. You can go and be proud over there.
Golani soldier Shaptiban also retorted, “Gilad, you leftists are the cancer in the state, traitors to the state, the garbage of Israeli society.”
Regev Cohen, responding to another Facebook user, whom he addressed with a homophobic epithet, wrote, “All the terrorists in the world, all the fucking martyrs, who are they? Arabs and Muslims” before referring to Arabs as “barbarians” and “human waste.”
Ori Avraham reacted to criticism of the racist statements from a user called “Irit” by telling her, “Do you know what the biggest dream of the Muslims is? To exterminate all the Jews by any means, so be quiet.”
It is important to emphasize that the racist comments in this incident were not rare or exceptional, but numerous and pervasive.
While the comments above were collected from the Facebook page of Israel’s Channel 2, many similar racist comments could be seen just as frequently under the news item about the crash on the Facebook page of Walla! News, another major Israeli media outlet.
Nor is this an isolated incident. The Electronic Intifada has previously documented numerous examples of Israelis expressing shocking racism and calls for racist and genocidal violence on Facebook.
Today’s disgusting comments are also reminiscent of what happened when some Israelis expressed delight after a number of Palestinian children were killed in a bus accident in February last year.
It is also notable that while the habitual expressions of joy by Israelis at the deaths and suffering of Palestinians go largely unremarked, an Egyptian activist, Samira Ibrahim, was the focus of worldwide condemnation recently after her nomination for a White House award was withdrawn when it came to light that she had expressed joy on Twitter at the deaths of Israelis in the July 2012 bombing of a bus in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas among other objectionable and racist comments.
This shocking and pervasive racism is not harmless. Many of those expressing it are members of Israeli occupation forces who hold immense power over the Palestinian population.
In at least one case we know about, an Israeli occupation “border policeman,” Maxim Vinogradov, had expressed a desire on Facebook to assist in “annihilating” Arabs just one week before he shot dead Palestinian father Ziad Jilani at a checkpoint in eastern occupied Jerusalem, a killing for which Jilani’s family continues to seek justice.
Considering Beitar’s dire recent form in the Premier League – four losses and a draw in the last five games – one could believe that that the home fans would be overjoyed when their team scored in the 48th minute. After a weak first half from the hosts, Avi Rikan sent a delicious through ball which cut through the Netanya defense, finding Chechen forward Zaur Sadayev, who controlled the ball with his chest and sweetly struck home from inside the box. While most Beitar fans and players celebrated the goal, some 300 fans walked out in disgust.
After Beitar’s goal, Netanya pressed for the equalizer and completely controlled proceedings, with the home team defending deep and trying to hit on the counter attack. Beitar’s goalkeeper Ariel Harush did well to block Ali El-Khatib‘s fierce strike from outside the box, before Rikan almost doubled the home team’s advantage with a spectacular overhead kick.
Most remaining Beitar fans cheered Sadayev when he was substituted by the troubled Eran Levy in the 74th minute, but three minutes later Netanya were rewarded for their efforts: Firas Mugrabi, who earlier missed a glorious opportunity, found Omri Ben Harush who scored from close range. The last few minutes saw both teams squander excellent chances to score, with Achmad Saba’a rattling the Beitar post and Rikan, again, missing after being set up by Levy.
While the draw did little to help Netanya escape the relegation area – only three points separate Tal Banin’s team from Hapoel Haifa – Beitar now has to hope that Ramat Hasharon fails to beat Be’er Sheva in the last game of the regular season, and get a result against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield in order to secure a place in the upper-tier playoff.
In a screenshot, anti-Arab activist Itamar Ben-Gvir (right) impersonates a Palestinian prisoner, as the man next to him wears a “Kach” T-shirt.
Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron celebrated the Jewish festival of Purim by mocking Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for their rights in Israel’s jails.
Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier has posted images online of himself and his comrades dressed up as Palestinian resistance fighters and as Gilad Shalit, the occupation soldier captured by Hamas fighters in 2006 and held as a prisoner of war in Gaza for five years.
A video of the Purim parade in Hebron was posted on YouTube, as Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have intesified protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners after the death of Arafat Jaradat in Israeli custody and amid the ongoing struggles of hunger strikers.
In the video, Israeli far-right anti-Arab activist Itamar Ben-Gvir is dressed up as a “Palestinian prisoner” and has this brief exchange of words:
Ben-Gvir: If we don’t get more kibbeh, there will be an Intifada. More kibbeh. We want more kibbeh.
Off-screen voice: But how many tires do you have to burn? How many tires?
Ben-Gvir: Don’t worry about it. Only kibbeh!
As Ben-Gvir speaks, a man standing next to him is wearing a T-shirt bearing the name and logo of Kach, the violent anti-Arab organization founded by Meir Kahane that is even banned in Israel. Kach and its offshoot Kahane Chai have been designated as “foreign terrorist organizations” by the US State Department since 1997.
Ben-Gvir has been arrested dozens of times by Israeli authorities on charges of rioting, destruction of property, possessing propaganda for a terrorist organization, and with incitement to racism and support of a terrorist organization.
But while Ben-Gvir roams free, many of the Palestinian prisoners he mocks have been held for extended periods without charge or trial.
In the rest of the 10-minute long video, Israeli settlers, some drinking heavily from bottles of wines and spirits, can be seen dancing and reveling through the streets of occupied Hebron, which are devoid of Palestinians, as Israeli occupation soldiers provide an escort.
Israeli occupation soldiers dressed as Palestinian fighters surround a man with a paper on his chest that says “Gilad Shalit captured again” (Source).
Meanwhile Israeli soldier Idan Levi posted these images to Instagram which show him and members of his unit dressed up as Palestinian resistance fighters. The man in the middle of the photo above has a sign on his chest that says “Gilad Shalit – captured again.”
Israeli occupation soldiers dressed as Palestinian resistance fighters (Source).
Levi is a member of the 51st Battalion of the Golani brigade. As part of the occupation army, the Golani brigade has invaded Palestinian cities and terrorized Palestinian communities for years, although the unit suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Lebanese resistance during Israel’s disastrous 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
Golani brigade member Idan Levi (right) with a comrade dressed up as Palestinian resistance fighters (Source).
In one image, Levi appears in a T-shirt of the football team Beitar Jerusalem whose ultra-racist fans are notorious for violent rampages and chanting “Death to the Arabs.”
Israeli occupation soldier Idan Levi in a T-shirt of the notoriously racist Beitar Jerusalem football team (Source).
Idan Levi holding a banner with the symbol of the 51st Battalion of the Golani brigade (Source).
With thanks to Dena Shunra.
Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman, who came from a troubled youth in Florida, posts photos of himself breaking Israeli military law and playing with weapons in irresponsible ways. Source
As Mor Ostrovski’s now infamous Instagram image of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle generated disgust around the world, the Israeli army claimed that the photograph was “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values.”
It is understandable that an occupation army that markets itself as the “most moral army in the world” would attempt such damage control.
Those who follow matters closely know that the photograph was an apt symbol for the Israeli army’s contempt for the lives of Palestinian children, as well as for the total impunitysoldiers accused of crimes against Palestinian civilians enjoy. Even in terms of “misuse” of social media, it was no isolated incident.
Israeli soldiers’ use of social media has given a unique insight into an “army” that functions more like a rabble – with soldiers misusing weapons, breaking laws, and expressing violent and extreme views and posting images of themselves doing it online.
A case in point is Osher Maman, another 20-year-old Israeli soldier currently enlisted in the “elite” Golani Brigade.
Maman’s Instagram account currently includes 549 images which show, among other things, images of him mishandling weapons and breaking military laws. The earliest date from April 2012 and the most recent from today. An illustrative selection – with tags where he included them – are used throughout this post. Maman also expresses deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs.
Osher Maman’s Facebook page, which features many of the same images that can be seen on his Instagram account but also goes back earlier, identifies him as a former student of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida, and uses the nickname “Eazybaby” which resembles the name of his Instagram account eazybaby310.
An Osher Maman was a member of the graduating high school class of 2010 according to the Naples Daily News on 5 June 2010.
Maman’s Facebook bio says: “From israel to Miami to the I.D.F Kik: eazybaby310 An active assassin/hitman” and identifies himself as a member of Barak, the 12th Battalion of the supposedly “elite” Golani brigade. This is corroborated by many images he has posted of weapons, uniforms and other military paraphernalia bearing the insignia of this battaltion.
Maman wrote a message on Facebook on 13 August 2011:
im leaving to the israeli army this monday, just wanted to say.. fuck the police, fuck barron collier high school and all the staff, fuck all the judges, fuck all you little hater faggots that blow up my fb and phone talking shit, fuck the bitches that cheated on me, fuck the virus i just got on my computer and whoever created it, fuck you fuck you fuck you, whos next…
One year later, Maman celebrated the anniversary of his move in another Facebook status:
So one year ago i moved here to join the army… Im not gonna make up some bullshit glorious story to break your heart… I just did it to beat up terrorists and shit… Happy one year anniversary Mmmmmffffffckasss!!!
An image he posted of its insignia indicates that Maman was recruited directly from the United States via “Garin Tzabar” a program that recruits Jews and Israelis from overseas into the army. Maman identifies himself as a Garin Tzabar member on his Google Plus account.
A comment made on a website dedicated to Garin Tzabar, from the Facebook account of Maman’s mother, Batya Sabag, a social media consultant in Naples, Florida, also identifies her son as a graduate of the program.
One of the requirements of the Garin Tzabar program is a “Certificate of Good Conduct (proof of no prior criminal record).”
This military recruitment program for the Israeli occupation army is run by the Israel Scouts.
According to an image posted by Maman, on 5 April 2012 his military service had begun 138 days previously (which would be November 2011) and will end on 19 November 2014.
A montage posted by Osher Mamam features a blindfolded and bound Palestinian prisoner, weapons, and tags that reveal fantasies of violence. Source
When Maman was arrested and charged in the BB gun incident – classified by authorities as a weapon, not a toy, his father, Zion Maman, told media that “the culture in Israel has a more relaxed view about toy guns.”
That relaxed view extends to real guns, mortars, grenades and all sorts of other heavy weapons that Osher Maman is seen handling, sometimes naked, and using as toys and props in disturbing images he posted online.
These images suggest that the Israeli army exercises little control or discipline over weapons.
Playing God? Note the caption Osher Maman has attached to this image of what might be the controller of remote weapon system. Source
A criminal offense under Israeli military law, Golani brigade soldier Osher Maman smokes marijuana in his uniform. Source
Images posted on Maman’s Instagram account show him smoking marijuana in uniform and on duty, in direct contravention of Israeli army order “33.011 – Use of Drugs – procedures for report, detention, and initiating a military police investigation.”
Military order 33.011 states that the use of drugs, including hashish, “constitutes a criminal offense and harms the army, so this order does not leave room for the commanders’ discretion.” It adds that, “All soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces are prohibited from possessing drugs, taking them, or trading in them.”
What does it mean that the Israeli army recruits a soldier, with a dubious history, who is stupid enough to post images of himself committing more criminal offenses?
Is this a man who should be handling – playing with – lethal weapons in any circumstances? Or does it mean that this Most Moral Army so lacks discipline that soldiers like Maman can break the law without fear of consequences?
Osher Maman freely expresses his deep, even genocidal hatred of Palestinians and his desire to see them oppressed and killed. Responding to a comment on one of his images, for example, Maman told the commenter
Lmao for all I care you can comment all my pictures, you’re still a fucking Arab pile of shit, you even smell like it. You’re never going to win over israel (the chosen people) bc you’re a bunch of slaves, shit I probably am the slave master of some Arab who’s related to you… An you all will stay trapped in gaza and every little shittt village that you Palestinians have inside of israel. And you will continue to go to our jails and to have your houses broken in to. Basically your life will be shit until you all die, so go ahead and have fun commenting on my pictures of that’s going to make your death a little better…
Note the horrifying tags Israeli soldier Osher Maman, who took a BB gun to school as a teen and used it to threaten two girls, has attached to this image. Source
In addition to the endless stream of photos of himself and his buddies posing with guns, Maman shares images and slogans glorifying violence, especially, of course, against Palestinians.
Osher Maman is not a “rotten apple.” He, along with Mor Ostrovski – the author of the infamous photo of the boy in the crosshairs – is another symbol of the occupation army under whose arbitrary and dictatorial rule Palestinians have been forced to live for decades.
It is soldiers just like these who whine to the Israeli media that they can’t be more brutal and violent against Palestinians because cameras are watching them.
It is soldiers just like these who are responsible, though never punished or held to account, for the killings of Palestinian children like Samir Awad, Salih al-Amarin and Muhammad al-Salaymeh, young men like Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi and young women likeLubna Hanash among so many thousands more.
With thanks to Benjamin Doherty for research and to Dena Shunra for research, translation and analysis.
The old occupation was the occupation of Palestine. It started with the military occupation of the West Bank and continued with the settlement occupation of the West Bank, and has reached the point where some 360,000 Israelis live today in the West Bank. At the same time that the smaller occupation of the Gaza Strip failed, the large occupation of the West Bank has done quite well.
In the past it prevented a peace agreement with Jordan, interfered with the interim agreement with the Palestinians and prevented a unilateral withdrawal. The old occupation succeeded in causing a Palestinian state not to be founded, the Land of Israel not to be divided and a single governmental entity to sprawl from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Even though the old occupation was anachronistic and disadvantageous from the very beginning, it showed impressive vitality and achieved most of its goals. This surprising success allowed it to continue on and mount an attack on the democratic Jewish state next to the West Bank.
The new occupation is the occupation of Israel. This time it is not a military and settlement process, but a political process. This time the intention is not to deny the Palestinians their right to self-determination, but to deny Israelis the ability to end the first occupation. After the settlers succeeded in preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state by occupying Judea and Samaria, they are now asking to empty the Israeli state of all its substance by taking control of its political system.
The operational target of the new occupation: over-representation for the settlers, the settlers’ agents and those beholden to the settlers in the upcoming 19th Knesset. The modus operandi of the new occupation: A settler outpost in the governing party on the one hand, and the establishment of a strong settlers’ party on the other. The expected result of the new occupation: A legislature and government to their liking, which will subordinate the good of the State of Israel to the good of the occupying settlements.
The first steps of the old occupation in Hebron, Sebastia and Ofra decades ago were brilliant moves. They derailed Israel from one historic path and moved it onto a different one. So it is with the first steps the new occupation is taking in the current election campaign. First the settlers succeeded in settling inside the Likud and turning it into a captive party. After that they succeeded in turning the prime minister into a hostage. Finally, the settlers ran a party with an image of high-tech, but whose essence is extremism and refusal of army orders.
That is how the new occupation, in front of our very eyes, is conquering the central power structure of Israel in a well-planned pincer movement. It guarantees that the interests of the settlements will be placed at the top of the next government’s objectives, and not the values of the nation. Instead of our future being determined by the Israeli majority, we will be lead by a small minority that has gone off to the peaks of the Shomron, and from there they will rule.
There are big differences between French colonial rule in Algeria and Israeli rule in Judea and Samaria. But what is now happening is impossible to view as anything but the takeover by a colonial province of its mother country. The weakness of the Israeli republic has enabled the Jewish settlers who crossed the Green Line to accomplish in Jerusalem in 2013 what the French colonialists in Algeria did not succeed in achieving in Paris in 1960. They are marching on the capital and conquering it, and turning the mother country into a nation under the control of the colony it gave birth to.
Is everything lost? No. The political forces now occupying Israel are extremist. Sooner or later they will lead the occupied country to collide with the wall of reality. After the collision there will finally arise a liberation movement worthy of the name, and the uprising it leads will end the second occupation. The great fear is that until then a lot of blood will be shed, and the first occupation, that of the West Bank, could become irreversible.
Likud’s most far-right figure proposes paying each Palestinian family in West Bank $500,000 to move to West
Despite being instructed by the Likud campaign not to give interviews, Moshe Feiglin made controversial statements during a conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The Women in Green conference was attended by several Likud officials who discussed operative ways to impose Israeli sovereignty beyond the Green Line.
Feiglin, who earlier on Tuesday was detained by police after trying to pray at the Temple Mount, proposed paying Palestinians to leave Israel.
“The State of Israel is paying 10% of its GNP every year for the two-state solution and the Oslo Accords. It’s paying for separation fences, Iron Domes and a guard at every café. Soon we’ll have to place Iron Domes in every school in Tel Aviv.
“With this budget we can give every Arab family in Judea and Samaria $500,000 to encourage it to immigrate to a place with a better future.
“You may say, ‘But no one will have them.’ That’s not true because the Western nations are shrinking due to low birth rates. The question is whether the world will have Sudanese migrants who can’t build or migrants from Judea and Samaria who do know how to build.
“Polls conducted in Gaza and Judea and Samaria show that 80% (of Palestinians) in Gaza and 65% (of Palestinians) in Judea and Samaria want to immigrate. We have here the perfect solution. “
During the conference Minister Yuli Edelstein endorsed a gradual process of imposing Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. MK Yariv Levin expressed similar views but admitted the chances of imposing Israeli law beyond the Green Line were not high.
Zeev Elkin proposed imposing sovereignty in the Jewish-populated areas first and then in the Palestinian areas.
A Likud official said, “These radical statements are good for Netanyahu from an election standpoint. They help get back rightist votes that shifted to the Habayit Hayehudi party. No one is going to annex the territories. It’s a good election slogan.”
He noted that Netanyahu will not publically condemn the statements.
Today, Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking, and many of them are endangered. This is, of course, not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country. Israel is proud of its record of religious tolerance and pluralism, and Israel will continue to protect freedom of religion for all. And we will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country. We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship. This is not our way, and this is something we cannot accept.
So as you celebrate Christmas and your holy holidays, we hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged, and then come see our ancient land with your own eyes: visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
And next year, come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem.
Happy holidays to all of you. May you all be blessed with a year of security, prosperity and peace.
“Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country,” Netanyahu said.
Vowing to “continue to protect freedom of religion and thought,” Netanyahu also promised “to safeguard Christian places of worship throughout our country” and not to “tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship.”
Making a pitch for Christian Zionist tourism he urged listeners to “Come see our ancient land with your own eyes. Visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade in the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and next year come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
His inclusion of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, as well as the banks of the Jordan River, can be taken as another affirmation that Israel, despite its rhetoric, has no interest in a “two-state solution” and intends to absorb all of historic Palestine as an exclusively “Jewish state.”
Netanyahu’s professions of tolerance would have come as news to Palestinian Christian students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee. There, students who could not get home for the holidays bought a Christmas tree and set it up outside their dorm.
But in the evening when they got back from class, they found the tree was gone, Israel’sWalla! News reported.
“This is the saddest Christmas,” said Gabriel Mansour, 24, a third-year political science student, identified by Walla! as a representative of Arab students. “All we wanted to do was provide some good cheer for all the students who remained alone in the dorms, and who were unable to go home to their families.”
When Mansour investigated, he was told by college officials that the tree had been hidden lest it spark riots among the Jewish students.
“I was angry to hear this,” said Mansour of the claim that the tree might spark riots among Jewish students and residents of Safad. “Unfortunately they don’t respect our holidays. We fully respect all Israeli holidays. Why can no one respect our traditions? Why can’t we put up a Christmas tree?”
“I do not think Christmas should be marked with such ostentation,” Walla! quoted an unnamed Jewish student saying. “The college has a distinctly Jewish character. It’s not healthy for anyone to be able to do whatever he wants.”
And there was a mini-scandal when the girlfriend of Yair Netanyahu, the son of the Israeli prime minister, posted a photo of the youth wearing a Santa hat and posing next to a Christmas tree, on Facebook. Under the photo was the caption “My Christian boy.”
The prime minister’s office was forced to issue a statement that the image was a joke and that Yair had been attending a party hosted by “Christian Zionists who love Israel, and whose children served in the IDF,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Nevertheless the photo was removed from Facebook.
The ban on Christmas at Safad college is no isolated incident. For several years, Shimon Gapso, the notoriously racist mayor of the Israeli settlement of “Upper Nazareth” in the Galilee, has banned Christmas trees, calling them a provocation. “Nazareth Illit [Upper Nazareth] is a Jewish city and it will not happen – not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” Gapso said.
According to journalist Jonathan Cook in Nazareth, such bans continue and are widespread this year with Israel’s state-financed rabbis warning hotels and restaurants that they will lose their kosher certifications if they put up trees or other Christmas decorations or hold Christmas events.
“In other words,” Cook says, “the rabbinate has been quietly terrorising Israeli hotel owners into ignoring Christmas by threatening to use its powers to put them out of business. Denying a hotel its kashrut (kosher) certificate would lose it most of its Israeli and foreign Jewish clientele.”
When the Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem this year put up a small Christmas tree near the Jaffa Gate, there were strong protests from rabbis. Occupation municipality city council member Rabbi Shmuel Yitzhaki told settler news website Arutz 7 that the display was a “desecration” and a “grave offense against the Jewish people” and that it was “inconceivable” that a Christmas tree should be allowed in a “public place” where it might be seen by Jews on their way to pray at the Western Wall in eastern occupied Jerusalem.
Mina Fenton, a former city council member, said, “There’s a Christian Quarter. They can put it [the tree] up there,” where it couldn’t “injure the souls of Jews.”
While Israel’s official rabbis, colleges and municipalities discourage or ban displays of Christmas trees, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the racist state-backed agency actively engaged in ethnically cleansing Palestinians and stealing their land for exclusive use by Jews, has found a way to use Christmas trees to paint a false image of itself as a promoter of multicultural harmony.
The JNF, which misrepresents itself as an environmental charity, now gives away some trees and felled branches particularly to foreign embassies, for use as Christmas trees in private homes, and markets the initiative as outreach to maintain “good relations between religions.” Against the background of the JNF’s true activities, such cynical propaganda should convince no one. But it might be useful in raising donations from Christian Zionists.
The efforts by Netanyahu and the JNF to present Israel as tolerant and friendly to Christians are important to maintain external, especially Christian Zionist support, and to hide a much uglier reality.
Israel claims to be a “Jewish state.” Its blatantly discriminatory “Law of Return” grants the automatic right to those it recognizes as Jews from anywhere in the world to emigrate and receive citizenship even if they have no connection to the country. At the same time, Israel prevents indigenous Palestinian refugees, including those born there, from returning home just because they are not Jews.
But according to the US State Department in its 2011 report on religious freedom around the world, Israel specifically applies a blatantly anti-Christian test in applying this bigoted law:
The question of whether one believes Jesus is the Jewish Messiah has been used to determine whether a Jew was qualified to immigrate. The [Israeli] Supreme Court repeatedly has upheld the right, however, of Israeli Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah to retain their citizenship. The immigration exclusion was routinely applied only against Messianic Jews, whereas Jews who were atheists were accepted, and Jews who chose to believe in other religions, including Hindus and Buddhists, were not screened out.
In other words a “Jew” can be an atheist, Hindu, or Buddhist – anything at all – and be granted citizenship by Israeli authorities. It is only a belief in Jesus that disqualifies them.
As for Netanyahu’s promise that Christian holy sites would be protected, he failed to mention that in recent months, Israeli settlers, acting with the collusion of Israeli authorities, have stepped up so-called “price tag” attacks on Christian holy sites.
Meanwhile, Christmas celebrations proceeded this year in Gaza and in Iran, where municipal authorities in Tehran have in recent years put up banners celebrating the birth of Jesus on many main streets. Both Iran and Gaza re Muslim-majority places that Israeli propaganda loves to paint as particularly intolerant of religious minorities.
Few countries live up to their own claims about religious freedom and tolerance and many must do better. But selling Israel in particular, whose whole raison d’être is to privilege Jews qua Jews over the indigenous Palestinian population of any religion, as a paragon of tolerance and pluralism is patently absurd.
The nation’s leading anti-Muslim blogger and activist is back at it again in the New York City subway system. On December 17, Pamela Geller, who runs the blog Atlas Shrugs and is the head of Stop Islamization of America and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, had inflammatory ads put up in 50 subway stations at a cost of over $10,000. The ads picture the World Trade Center burning on September 11 and quote a Qu’ran verse–tying the religion of Islam to the terrorist attacks.
And in September, she put up another round of anti-Muslim advertisements at a cost of thousands of dollars. Many of them were altered and defaced by activists.
All of this begs the question: who is paying for Geller’s antics?
It remains unclear who exactly is funding the ad buys. In an e-mail to Mondoweiss, Geller said “all the money for the ads comes from supporters’ donations.” On the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s website, a donation button urges readers to “fund the fight.” But the word “supporters” is not exactly revealing. (It’s also worth noting that Geller won a $4 million divorce settlement and $5 million in life insurance.)
Tax records, though, show who partly funded Geller two years ago, when she first made a big name for herself leading the fight against the Park 51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan. These details have not been reported by other media outlets.
A foundation called the Alan and Hope Winters Foundation gave $5,000 to the American Freedom Defense Initiative in 2010, the Geller-led outfit behind the anti-Muslim advertisements. The foundation also gave money to a host of other anti-Muslim outfits that year, including the neoconservative Hudson Institute ($25,000) and David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence ($115,000).
Geller said that the Winters’ money went to her activism around Park 51. But the fact that a big-pocketed foundation gave cash to Geller’s group raises the question as to whether other foundations are likewise funding Geller’s ad buying spree.
Regardless of the answer to that question, the Winters donation is interesting in its own light. Hope Winters was on the board of The Israel Project in 2006 and 2007, according to 990 tax forms reviewed. It is the clearest example yet of how members of the Israel lobby are tied to Geller, a woman who told The New York Times that “a very good guide” to how she sees the world is the “prism of Israel.” Indeed, her last ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” And next to those words were the following: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The Israel Project (TIP) is a thoroughly-mainstream and well-connected shop that seeks to put “a more positive public face of Israel” out for everyone to see. TIP works with journalists to inform–or spin– the American public about the region. The group’s influence can be seen in the fact that a number of Senators and Representatives from both parties sit on its “board of advisors.”
Currently, TIP is headed by Josh Block, a former spokesperson for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. TIP did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
So what’s a former board member with TIP doing funding Geller’s hateful crusade against an Islamic center? Winters did not respond to inquiries relayed to her through an associate who helps handle her foundation’s finances. But it’s not too hard to guess.
TIP’s and Geller’s goals converge when it comes to Israel. They both support hawkish right-wing Israeli governments bent on colonizing the West Bank. They both want aggressive U.S. or Israeli action against Iran. Geller’s whole shtick is to cast Israel as a Western outpost in a sea of Arab and Islamic barbarism–the first line of defense in the “war on terror.” More subtly, TIP sees the Middle East in that way as well.
And TIP has other links to well-known Islamophobes. As the Institute for Policy Studies’ Right Web project notes, the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney spoke at a 2007 TIP-organized press conference about the “Iranian threat.” When Gaffney is not pushing for aggressive action against Iran, he’s pontificating about the threat of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the U.S. government and how sharia law is slowly taking over. Crazy stuff, but TIP has no problem with it.
The explicit links between Geller and TIP are a sharp contrast to how other mainstream Jewish groups have reacted to her anti-Muslim ad buys. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Community Relations Council condemned Geller’s September ads, which conflated Muslims and Palestinians with “savages.” But these groups have themselves dabbled in explicit Islamophobia. A Dallas branch of the ADL, for instance, once held a screening for the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”
Geller told me in an e-mail that “many clear-thinking and freedom-loving Jewish groups approve of my work.”
While Geller remains a step too far for some groups, like the ADL, she operates within the larger context of Islamophobia that has been aided by Israel lobby groups. Think of her as the tip of the big spear pushed by more mainstream pro-Israel groups. And her links with The Israel Project bring the Geller tip that much closer to the mainstream establishment.
New York City’s resident Islamophobe is back with yet another anti-Islam subway ad. Pamela Geller‘s latest features a photo of the World Trade Center exploding in flames next to a quote from the Quran that reads, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”
When Geller last bought ad space in the NYC underground, New Yorkers didn’t react too kindly. Nearly all of the signs– which read “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad“– werevandalized.
As a result, The Observer reports Geller doubled her ad buy this time, and that “the new ads will be plastered across at least 50 different locations.”
“I refuse to abridge my free speech so as to appease savages,” she said.
Additionally, Geller’s latest bout of vitriol will come with a MTA disclaimer:
“A cost of opening our ad space to a variety of viewpoints on matters of public concern is that we cannot readily close that space to certain advertisements on account of their expression of divisive or even venomous messages,” the MTA stated at the time of the “savages” ad. “The answer to distasteful and uncivil speech is more, and more civilized, speech.”
A new group, Jews Against Islamophobia added the following;
Jewish Groups Condemn (Yet Again) Ads
Promoting Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry:
Call for Unequivocal Repudiation of Islamophobia
Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 The Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Coalition condemns the latest hate-mongering ads, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), that are scheduled to appear in New York City subway stations today. “New York residents have already demonstrated that we don’t want such ads in our city. In a month when many people gather with their loved ones for Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and other seasonal celebrations, Jews must recommit ourselves anew to standing up against these ads and all forms of Islamophobia,” pledged JAI Coalition member and director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Marjorie Dove Kent.
The ad shows a picture of the World Trade Center in flames, next to a quote from the Koran, and reads: “Soon shall we cast terror into the heart of the unbelievers.”
“But, of course, a bigot can play this game of selective quotation with any religion. Find a picture of horrifying violence committed by some Jews or Christians — there are a depressingly large number — and juxtapose it with one of the following quotes from scripture: “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” [Matthew 10:34] or “Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” [Deuteronomy 20:16]),” notes JAI Coalition member Alan Levine.
The AFDI ad—which cost about $70,000—is part of a nationwide campaign to demonize Muslim and Arab Americans. In the past six months, AFDI has funded hate ads in Westchester, New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. In each of these cases, a wide range of interfaith and civil rights groups came together to denounce the ads and to stand up for unity and solidarity. The AFDI’s Pamela Geller is co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
“Geller’s ads contribute to creating an even more hostile climate than already exists for the Muslim community, many of whom are already living in fear of street harassment, bullying, and other forms of verbal and physical violence,” says JAI Coalition member Jon Moscow. “We all have a responsibility to make sure this does not continue. We call on New Yorkers to respond individually and collectively to repudiate this vicious attempt to divide our city and to strongly condemn these ads.”
This anti-Muslim ad campaign takes place in the context of a post-9/11 atmosphere of fear, hate, and bigotry in the United States that targets Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Sikhs and other South Asians. “While we find shocking the blatant Islamophobia in the ads and strongly condemn this vicious hate speech, we also condemn ongoing governmental policies of racial and religious profiling,” emphasized director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, whose group is also a member of the JAI Coalition. “For example, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been engaged in police surveillance of Muslims that has flagrantly violated the community’s civil and human rights. These Islamophobic acts help make possible the hate-filled atmosphere in which people like Geller thrive.” Despite the NYPD commitment of time, money, and personnel to its widespread surveillance and spying program in the Muslim community, it has not, according to the Commanding Officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, generated a single lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.Communities have organized in response to NYPD surveillance and spying, including groups coming together to support City Council bills that would begin to hold the NYPD accountable for these actions.
People across New York City are once again joining the Muslim community to oppose these ads and to ensure that the rights of all our communities are fully protected and that no group is subjected to any form of harassment or racism. The JAI Coalition pledges to continue to be part of that movement for justice.
Among the latest horrifying examples of incitement to mass murder by Israeli public figures, Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister and notorious war criminal Ariel Sharon, has called for the Israeli army to “flatten” Gaza as the US flattened the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 with an atomic bomb.
“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences,” wrote Sharon in the extremist publication The Jerusalem Post. Sharon elaborated:
We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.
Sharon added that “There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
As of Sunday night, the end of the fifth day of Israel’s air assault on Gaza, more than 70 Palestinians, half of them civilians, had been killed in hundreds of Israeli airstrikes.
Meanwhile in a message to soldiers, Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party exhorted soldiers to kill without thought or mercy.
“Brothers! Beloved soldiers and commanders – preserve your lives! Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone! There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives[;] at any tiniest concern for your lives – Mow them!,” Ben-Ari was quoted as saying by the website HaKol HaYehudi.
Ben-Ari was referring to the UN-commissioned Goldstone report that documented war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza which left more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead.
“We love you alive and smiling, not, heaven forefend, ‘just’ and dead in Gaza – Sodom [-]there are no righteous men, turn it into rubble. Paint it red! We are worried about you and rely on you. We all do, all of the Nation of Israel,” Ben-Ari added.
The phrase “the Nation of Israel” refers to all members of the Jewish religion, not to citizens of the State Israel, notes Dena Shunra who translated Ben-Ari’s comments.
On 15 November, the second day of an Israeli assault, Ben-Ari addressed a hate rally in Tel Aviv, calling for more bloodshed in Gaza. New video of that rally, which this blog reported on previously, shows Ben-Ari in action.
Read more examples of incitement to violence by Israeli public figures, for example the prominent rabbi who says the Israeli army “must learn from the Syrians how to slaughter the enemy.”
All of these inciters will no doubt be pleased that in the bloodiest attack of Israel’s assault so far, 11 Palestinians from a single family, including four young children and an 81-year-old woman, were killed on Sunday when an Israeli bomb flattened their home.
Israeli PM Netanyahu (R) and Israeli FM Lieberman shake hands after they announced that their parties will unite for polls. EPA photo
Approximately 100 Palestinians and a handful of international activists entered the Rami Levy supermarket in the West Bank settlement of Sha’ar Binyamin Wednesday morning to ‘protest occupation and settler terror’ and to call for the boycott of ‘the occupation and its products.’ Two Palestinians and two internationals were beaten and arrested.
Activists in Rami Levy supermarket in Shaar Binyamin settlement (photo: flickr/Activestills)
Palestinian and international activists were unarmed. Carrying flags and signs, they entered the supermarket, chanting for freedom. They say that the Israeli police used excessive force to disperse the nonviolent protest.
Activist Abir Kopty, who was at the scene, reported that “as activists exited the building, about forty policemen and soldiers were waiting outside, they attacked physically the demonstrators and fired stun grenades at them, causing several injuries, two of which were taken by ambulance to the hospital.”
Bassem Tamimi, head of Nabi Saleh’s Popular Committee, was among the injured. He reportedly suffered broken ribs as a result of being beaten by Israeli forces as he was arrested.
This protest emphasizes, according to Kopty, that “as long as there is no justice to Palestinians, Israeli and settler daily life can’t continue on as normal.”
Bassem Tamimi being arrested in the Shaar Binyamin settlement today (photo: flickr/Activestills)
Last week also saw a protest that disrupted the flow of Israelis and settlers everyday life when a group of 50 Palestinian activists blocked Route 443 for half an hour. The road is built on occupied Palestinian land and connects settlements, which the international community considers illegal, to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. To an Israeli driver, Route 443 essentially erases the Green Line and gives the impression that the occupied West Bank is part of the country. The action of blocking the road may have reminded the Israelis who use it that the land 443 runs through is, indeed, occupied.
And from Gideon Levy;
Nice to make your acquaintance, we’re racist and pro-apartheid. The poll whose results were published in Haaretz on Tuesday, conducted by Dialog and commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund, proved what we always knew, if not so bluntly. It’s important to recognize the truth that has been thrown in our faces and those of the world (where the survey is making waves ). But it’s even more important to draw the necessary conclusions from it.
Given the current reality, making peace would be an almost anti-democratic act: Most Israelis don’t want it. A just, egalitarian society would also violate the wishes of most Israelis: That, too, is something they don’t want. They’re satisfied with the racism, comfortable with the occupation, pleased with the apartheid; things are very good for them in this country. That’s what they told the pollsters.
Until a courageous leadership arises here, the kind that appears only rarely in history, and tries to change this nationalist, racist mood, there’s no point in hoping for change to come from below. It won’t come; indeed, it can’t come, because it is contrary to the desires of most Israelis. This fact must be recognized.
The world must also recognize this. Those who long to reach an agreement and draw up periodic peace plans must finally recognize that Israelis are plainly telling them, “No thanks, we’re not interested.” The Arab world must similarly recognize that this survey (and others like it ) is Israel’s real Bar-Ilan speech.
It’s hard to blame Israelis. Years of brainwashing; the demonization and dehumanization of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular; coupled with years of vicious terror, have left their scars. What, for heaven’s sake, do you want from Israelis, who are exposed daily to the media telling them, for instance, that the recent visit to the Gaza Strip by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who came to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to build roads, is “Qatar for terror” (as the lead headline in yesterday’s Hebrew edition of Israel Hayom put it )? Why would they want to make peace with those who for decades have been systematically portrayed to them seeking only to annihilate them?
Why would the average Israeli agree to have an Arab student in his child’s class or an Arab family in his apartment building if he has never met an Arab and knows of them only as terrorists, criminals or primitive people – the only images of Arabs to which he has been exposed? Why would he think that discrimination against Arabs by government ministries is a bad thing if the only reality he knows is one where Arabs are sewer workers or street sweepers, and he doesn’t know that Arabs are capable of more than that?
After all, even secular Israelis, who displayed the most tolerant views in the survey, don’t actually know who they’re talking about. When have they ever met an Arab? When have their children met one? And if they have, what kind of Arab have they met besides the delivery boy from the grocery store, the owner of the neighborhood greengrocer, the car-wash employee, Ahmed the plasterer or scaffolding builder? And that’s without even talking about Palestinians: The last time (and also the first ) they met a Palestinian, if ever, was during their army service, through the sight of a rifle, as a suspicious and dangerous object.
Nevertheless, this brainwashing doesn’t absolve Israelis of responsibility. It’s true that the education system, and even more so the media, incite and inflame, sow hatred and fear. But they do so to conform to their audience’s tastes. It’s a depressingly vicious circle, in which it isn’t clear which came first.
After all, if the Israeli media thought their brainwashing was repulsive to its customers they would long since have abandoned it. But it knows its customers’ hearts. The political establishment, too, understands the nature of the beast. That’s why we are now caught in a mad, dizzying race to the right: Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is vying with Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich over who is more right-wing.
Thus the situation can’t be excused on the grounds of incitement: Israelis are always happy to be incited against the Arab from Baka or the Palestinian from the casbah. Ratings-conscious media and politicians facing primary battles are only hitching a ride on them.
One-third of Israelis want to deny Arab citizens the right to vote; about half of Israelis favor a policy of “transferring” Arabs out of the country; and a majority says there is apartheid here. We need to finally give up on the hope that things will get better.
Between 2pm and 4pm on Wednesday 10th October 2012 settlers from the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida stole olives from two trees nearby. The settlers carried out this theft in full view of the Israeli soldiers manning the Gilbert checkpoint only about ten meters away at the top of Tel Rumeida hill, who did nothing to stop them.
Video from Youth Against Settlements of the settlers stealing olives:
On Thurday 11th October 2012 three International Solidarity Movement volunteers accompanied Jawad to his land to record any further criminal activity from the illegal settlement as Jawad and his family carried on harvesting their olive trees. Jawad has permission from the Civilian Military Commander, Rami Ferris, to harvest his olives at this time.
Jawad and the volunteers were stopped at the Gilbert checkpoint by an Israeli soldier who said that Jawad could not harvest any olives today and that no international volunteers could accompany him to his land. Jawad phoned the police and started to make a complaint. On seeing that he was not going to accept this arbitrary decision the soldier radioed to his commander. After talking on the radio the soldier relented and said he did have permission to harvest his olives after all.
The remainder of Thursday 11th October 2012 passed without incident as the Palestinians harvested their olives.
The Abu Eisheh family harvesting olives.
On Friday 12th October, the Abu Eisheh family went to their land at 9.30am to begin to harvest. Shortly after, a soldier came over and told them to stop – Jawad informed him that he had been allowed by the commanding officer to harvest yesterday. No sooner that he had been stopped by the soldier, settlers began to appear from the illegal settlement nearby, “don’t harvest the olives, they are for us” they were heard shouting. At this point the soldiers told Jawad that he “must stop now there are settlers.” The family refused to stop as they had been allowed to harvest the previous day. Jawad told the soldiers “if I leave the settlers will steal my olives.”At this point a settler pushed over Jawad’s brother Wajdy, who fell to the ground, to which the soldiers did not respond.
The Israeli Army then attempted to arrest Yiyah Abu Eisheh (21) for refusing to leave the land, and as the soldiers grabbed him, Noor Abu Eisheh (27) got in the middle, so the soldiers bound both the men’s hands with cable ties and took them to the Gilbert checkpoint nearby.
At this point all the family was forcibly removed from their land by the army, and as they reached Gilbert Checkpoint there was around 30 settlers who started to attack the family and a number of Palestinian onlookers.
Settlers in Tel Rumeida who attacked the Abu Eisheh family.
Wajdy Abu Eisheh (25) was at this point injured by the settlers and needed medical attention. The army carried him into a vehicle which later transferred him into a Palestinian ambulance where he was taken to Al-Khalil Hospital.
An injured Wajdy Abu Eisheh being treated at the scene.
The Abu Eisheh family has suffered much from the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida. Jawad used to run a brass mending and nickel, copper and zinc plating factory from his home employing twenty people. His factory amongst other work repaired parts for cars. The factory was closed by the Israeli Military along with other successful businesses in the area in the year 2000. His workshop has been broken into by settlers who destroyed chemicals and vandalized his electroplating equipment. The Jawad Abu Eisheh property had a wall to protect it from intrusion but after an illegal chicken farm was erected by the settlers next door they bit by bit broke down the wall by removing stones from it. About 18 months ago the settlers completely destroyed the wall which means that any time they want the settlers can come on to the property to vandalize or steal olives.
The Jawad Abu Eisheh family have lost their successful business because of the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida and now they are losing the olives that grow on their land to thieves from the illegal settlement.
“They don’t like to see Palestinians working their land.
How long must this family pay the cost of Israel’s Illegal settlement program?”
Soldiers next to the trees set on fire, Beitillu, 7 Oct. 2012. Photo: Muhammah Radwan, B’Tselem
The sources said that the settlers attacked members of Abu Aisha family, in Tal Romedia neighborhood, in the city.
The settlers came from Tal Romedia and Beit Hadassah illegal settlement outposts in the city. Resident Wajdi Thabit Abu Aisha, 25, was injured in the leg.
At least three similar attacks have been carried out by the settlers over the past three days in the area. The settlers even picked Palestinian olive trees, and violently assaulted several Palestinian villages.
Settler attacks escalate during olive harvest season as they try to harvest Palestinian olive orchards; these attacks also include cutting, uprooting and even burning Palestinian lands and trees.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) documented five similar attacks carried out in the period between October 7 and October 10. These documented attacks took place in the districts of Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron.
Less than a month after a monastery at Latrun was vandalized with “price tag” graffiti, similar graffiti was found Tuesday morning on the door of the Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The graffiti, which read “Jesus, son of a bitch, price tag,” had already been removed by midmorning Tuesday, Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.
Jerusalem Police Chief Maj. Gen. Yossi Pariente yesterday ordered the formation of a special investigative team to locate the perpetrators. No one has yet been arrested for last month’s vandalism.
Jewish extremists are thought to have carried out similar vandalism on churches, mosques and army property in response to what they consider pro-Palestinian government policies. The Latrun vandalism occurred shortly after settlers were evicted from the illegal outpost of Migron.
The Dormition Church, built over a century ago near the site of the Last Supper, is one of the Franciscan order’s most important holdings in the Holy Land. Though Israel has only about 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its 7.9 million people, the repeated defacing of their sacred sites has shocked the country and drawn official condemnation.
“Price tag actions contradict the morals and values of Judaism and do great harm to the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, speaking at a meeting with one of Israel’s chief rabbis at a Sukkot reception yesterday. “It is forbidden to harm the holy sites of [other] religions and faiths.”
Church officials have said mere condemnation is not enough. In an interview with Haaretz a few weeks ago, one of the Vatican’s top officials in the Holy Land, the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, sharply condemned what he termed Israelis’ derogatory attitude toward Christians.
“When you say ‘Christianity’ to Israelis they immediately think of the Holocaust and the [Spanish] Inquisition,” he said. “People don’t know that we are here and have roots here.”
He said this attitude seems to be prevalent in Israeli society, noting that priests are often spat on by yeshiva students, and that National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari had torn up a New Testament in the Knesset.
“If you as a Jew want people to respect you, you need to respect others,” Pizzaballa said.
Various rabbis condemned the vandalism.
“We only just finished with Yom Kippur … and now we have another sin for which we must atone – contempt for another religion,” said Rabbi Mauricio Balter, president of the Masorti (Conservative ) Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Reform Movement warned that “This price tag epidemic threatens to become a routine part of Israeli public life, causing moral, social and international damage. Law enforcement, which has failed to deal with the phenomenon, must make this a much higher priority than it has until now.”
The Reform Movement, in a statement, also urged the thousands of people who will be visiting Jerusalem’s Old City during the intermediate days of this week’s Sukkot holiday to “visit the desecrated site and express their disgust with this act.”
The Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the Franciscans’ representative in the Holy Land, said that Israel must do more to eliminate the price tag phenomenon.
“The attempts to damage monasteries and the spray-painting of inflammatory graffiti against Christianity, which have occurred repeatedly recently, are an insult to the hundreds of millions of Christian faithful throughout the world, and the State of Israel cannot allow such grave acts to occur,” the statement said.
A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world.
A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Read the full report from AP HERE