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December 15, 2009: Rush to Judgement

April 14, 2010

Last Friday, in the Arab village of Yasuf, in Samaria, near the Jewish community of Tapuach, a mosque was vandalized.

News reports spoke of the fact of “mosque arson,” but in point of fact the mosque wasn’t torched.  Korans and prayer rugs were burned, while the mosque was left in tact — this fact visible from photos.  Graffiti was written in Hebrew on the wall of the mosque: “Price tag — Greetings from Effi.” This is presumed to represent a radical group of “settlers” who have vowed to extract a price from the Arab population every time the Israeli government restricts development by Jews in Judea and Samaria.  It is thus being assumed in many quarters that Jews did this in “revenge” for Netanyahu’s building freeze.
 
Across Israel there have been condemnations of this act — including by law enforcement officials and rabbis.  The fact that they felt the need to condemn this passionately seems to indicate that they were assuming that it was likely Jews who did it. There were statements by law enforcement officials about how it’s time to get tougher with the “extremists” in Judea and Samaria.
 
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I believe that the assumption that “extremist” Jews did this IS a rush to judgment. There is a mind-set that tends to paint the “settlers” as bad, a danger to peace.  This perception has been shaped by Arab and leftist PR and been assimilated to a large degree.  And the assumption that Jews who live in Samaria set fire to a mosque fits right in with that.
 
If it turns out that Jews did do this, I will roundly condemn them. But I am not prepared to do so yet, for a host of reasons:
 
The law enforcement officials have come out full force in investigating this. But as I write, there is not only no suspect, but no lead.  Clearly, they keep close tab on those Jews considered to be radical.  That there is not even a “lead” after four days gives pause. The fact that there was an ostensible graffiti “signature” from a radical group does not, of course, mean that this group really did the vandalizing.  As the Regional Council of Samaria pointed out, “Who would be stupid enough to leave a name?” 
 
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And there is more:
 
Reports I received today indicate that the mosque has already been cleaned up, so that a police investigation of the “scene of the crime” is impossible.  (News reports did say that the PA was going to be doing the clean-up.)  As it was, the damage was relatively minimal.  Not destruction of a mosque, but of the accessories of prayer — just enough destruction to make press and to make a fuss over.
 
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Over a period of years, there have been accusations of Jewish “radicals” cutting down Arab olive trees, but on several occasions it turned out that Arabs themselves had cut down the trees to make Jews in the area look bad.  Seems strange from our perspective, that they would damage their own property. But that’s because we don’t think as these Arabs do. The same thinking takes place in Gaza. Terrorists target the crossings from Israel into Gaza, making it necessary for Israel to close the crossings for a period. This means that the supplies don’t get to the people. But that’s OK, for it’s more important to make Israel look bad for closing crossings.
 
Ponder this carefully.
 
The working assumption is that the mosque was vandalized by a radical Jewish group in “retaliation” for the government freeze. But the freeze wasn’t just announced. It’s a good couple of weeks old. So why now?

What is new is the priority map, which was just announced last week by Netanyahu. It indicates which communities will receive special attention. And guess what? A number of communities in Judea and Samaria were included (more follows on this below). How threatening to the Arabs who want to see us move back to the Green Line. Is it coincidence that the “arson” took place last Friday, just two days after the announcement?

When a contingent of rabbis from the Shomron (Samaria) tried to visit Yasuf, they were rebuffed. The residents there said these rabbis were radicals, or associated with radicals. I though this a little strange, as one of the rabbis was Rabbi Froman of Tekoa, who has a reputation of sustaining warm relationships with Arabs, and he had brought his Arabic-speaking son with him.

What did the Yasuf villagers say? That they need the land to be rid of “settlers.” No peaceful co-existence. No acceptance of peaceful gestures. Get out.

I noted this carefully when it was said, and everyone else needs to note it, as well. The vandalized mosque potentially provides “evidence” for the world to see of why Jews should not live in Judea and Samaria.
 
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As to that priority map:  It has caused considerable dissension within the government. To me what has been taking place is schizoid, with one arm of the government unclear as to what the other is doing.  As I noted last week after the priority map was announced (announced just as there was a demonstration against the freeze taking place), it seemed to give a very mixed message with regard to that freeze.  And, sure enough, it made the Obama administration uneasy, so that reassurances had to be provided.  The communities in Judea and Samaria which were on the map would receive other kinds of assistance, our government said, but not housing assistance.  Not clear is whether this set of parameters was for the ten months of the freeze only, or would continue thereafter.
 
The map was approved by the Cabinet on Sunday, after announcements that the decision might be delayed because of objections. 
 
Shas objected, and with good reason, because communities where those who were expelled from Gush Katif are settling were not given priority.
 
But the major source of tension with regard to the priorities set by the map emanates from the Labor party.  Four party “rebels” have been discontented for some time with Barak’s participation in Netanyahu’s coalition. (It is likely that the ferocity with which Barak administered the freeze on the ground, adding strictures that weren’t in the original announcement, was an attempt by him to show these rebels how tough he is with “settlers.”) 
 
Now the rebels — Eitan Cabel, Shelly Yacimovich, Yuli Tamir, and Ophir Paz-Pines — say that clearly Barak knew what the priority map would include, and that this is the proverbial straw. According to a spokesman for the rebels, “The chances of us making peace with Barak are the same that this government will make peace with the Palestinians.”
 
What is being demanded is that within two to three months Labor leave the government if progress has not been made in the “peace process.” 
 
The insistence of the left wing in blaming Israel for a failure of the “peace process” drives me to distraction.  How, precisely, do they think “progress” is supposed to be achieved when Abbas won’t come to the table? (See below on this.)
 
At any rate, this is one of those situations that will bear close watching, as the political implications are real.
 
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There are other issues with regard to communities in Judea and Samaria that I will return to as soon as possible.  It seems today that there is more to write about than time to do the writing.  It is almost time for candle-lighting and then celebration with friends.
 
Here I will simply report that Abbas has announced that he is abandoning the format of the Road Map and refusing to come to the negotiating table until we agree to return to the ’67 lines.  There is much to say about this, in due course, although we’ve been watching this unfold; it’s not exactly unexpected. (The PLO, by the way, will be formally extending Abbas’s term as PA president, until there are elections.)
 
Today in the village of Yasuf, Arabs demonstrated with the demand that Jews get out of the West Bank.  And, while I might be mistaken, it seems to me all of a piece.  How convenient that they have the “evidence” of the Jews having vandalized their mosque, to show the world why we cannot remain.
 
I am incensed, by the way, that the president of the EU has made a statement about this mosque. How many times, pray tell, has the president of the EU made statements when Arabs killed innocent Jews in Judea and Samaria?
 
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