Navigate to News section

A Mosque Is Burned, This Time In Israel

President Peres has a must-read condemnation

Marc Tracy
October 03, 2011
President Peres, flanked by chief rabbis and a sheikh, speaking at the mosque today.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images/)
President Peres, flanked by chief rabbis and a sheikh, speaking at the mosque today.(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images/)

More details indicate that the arson and vandalism of a mosque in the Arab village of Tuba-Zangaria, in Israel, was likely the work of Jewish extremists. In addition to setting a fire, which caused significant damage, the perpetrators sprayed tag mechir—”price tag,” which is what these attacks have come to be called—as well as the words for “revenge” and “Palmer” in presumable reference to Asher Palmer, whose car overturned in the West Bank, allegedly following rocks thrown by Palestinians, killing him and his infant boy.

Though price tag attacks have been something of a trend recently (in response not only to perceived Palestinian attacks but also official Israeli actions such as the uprooting of settlement outposts), this morning’s incident appears to be the first time in at least awhile that one has taken place in (for lack of a better term) Israel proper.

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni condemned the attack, as did several prominent Arab Israeli politicians. (I’ve received similar statements from the Orthodox Union and the Anti-Defamation League as well.) But perhaps the most moving words came from Israel’s ultimate éminence grise, President Peres, who announced that he and several chief rabbis would be visiting the site at an unrelated ceremony this morning. He said,

It is unconscionable that a Jew would harm something that is holy to another religion. This act is not-Jewish, illegal, immoral, and brings upon us heavy shame. I strongly condemn this horrible act in every language. This is not only a difficult day for the residents of Tuba Zangria, it is a difficult day for all Israeli society. As the President of Israel, during these days of introspection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I call upon all to denounce these terrible acts. These acts, destroy relations between us and our neighbors, and between the various religions in Israel.

We will not allow extremists and criminals to undercut the need to live together equally in equality and mutual respect. Arabs and Jews as one.

That “in every language” is a very subtle and very justified dig at the way Peres’ counterparts act when similar attacks occur.

Last month, inspired in part by our article on young women who are Jewish settlers, a prominent religious Zionist rabbi questioned who ought to be held responsible for the price tag epidemic.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.