22 June 2012
The True Face of IsraelA mosque burns in the West Bank. Then another. And another. Houses and shops are vandalized. Olive trees uprooted. The homes of high-ranking IDF officers tagged with hateful graffiti. IDF bases attacked. This is Tag Machir, or “Price Tag”: the violent campaign of attacks that, for the past two years, has targeted Palestinians, champions and practitioners of coexistence, and even the IDF, in “revenge” for any move to limit any aspect of the settlement enterprise.
Not long ago, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the removal of a group of settlers from their homes in the Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement, ruling that the homes were illegally built on land privately owned by Palestinians. Now, as the government gears up to forcibly remove the families – the first such move in years – the Price Tag attacks have begun. This past Tuesday, another mosque was torched, this time in the West Bank village of Jabaa. On the wall of the mosque, the arsonists scrawled “Price Tag,” and “Ulpana War.”
This is the face of violent extremism in Israel today. But is not the true face of Israel.
That is found in the response to the madness of Tag Machir: Tag Meir, an NIF-convened coalition that responds to acts of Price Tag hatred with acts of healing solidarity, and which is now urging the Israeli authorities to act with urgency to prevent future Price Tag attacks. It’s a bit hard to translate: “Light Tag” doesn’t really do justice to the power of the name, which refers to the coalition’s birth last Hanukkah, as campaign to light candles of hope in the darkness of Price Tag bigotry. In Hebrew, the boy’s name Meir means the bright one, or the illuminator. That’s appropriate, and NIF grantees, such as Bina, the Masorati Movement, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yod Bet B’Heshvan, are key members of the Tag Meir coalition. So is our own SHATIL.
In a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Tag Meir calls for swift and strong government action to stop the terror:
Mr. Prime Minister: Past experience has proven that Price Tag activists, bolstered by "Halachic" manuals and "learned" articles, will continue to attack innocent victims to revenge the withdrawal from settlements and homes. Warning of Price Tag attacks has been given: the writing is on the wall.
Sir, we urge you now, not to surrender to these threats and to Jewish terror and vandalism. We are horrified at the ease at which these attacks have taken place in the past and we urge you to order increased security around the Palestinian settlements most at risk, to guard the mosques in these settlements, to increase the number of police and border police patrols in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the inter-denominational institutions. We ask you to increase the security surrounding officials of the Chief Public Prosecutor and high ranking IDF officers who will bear the responsibility for evacuating Givat Ha'Ulpana and the IDF bases in the vicinity.
We believe that the actions of "Tag Machir" present a strategic threat to the moral fiber of the State of Israel to its Jewish character, to its security and its social complexity and it is your responsibility to act with determination to remove this threat from our midst.
I’m grateful for the illuminators. They are the true, shining face of Israel. Let’s help them continue to light up the darkness.