Price Tag Attacks Increase: Where is the Government?

15 May 2014

“Price tag” attacks — violence by radical settlers imposing a “cost” on divergence from their political agenda – have reached epidemic levels inside Israel, with nearly daily incidents over the last few months. In particular, attacks on Arab property and mosques inside Israel are on the upswing. In response, the NIF-convened Tag Meir coalition organized a demonstration on Sunday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence to protest the government’s inadequate response to these racist attacks.

At the event, a statement signed by 2,000 NIF supporters around the world was read: “Mr. Prime Minister: We, supporters of Israel from around the globe, appeal to you to do more in the face of escalating politically-motivated violence known as ’Price Tag.’ Price Tag is a threat to the moral fiber of Israel, to its Jewish and democratic character, and to the security of its citizens. You yourself have spoken out against Price Tag, as have so many Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum. These condemnations are important, but they are not enough. Meaningful leadership is needed to make sure that Israel’s law enforcement community can return a sense of security to all of Israel’s citizens. Please act to defend Israel from this threat.”

Tag Meir, a coalition of 43 organizations, including SHATIL, was formed more than four years ago with NIF support. The group confronts Price Tag violence by going to towns where attacks have occurred and holding solidarity events with the community, as well as pressuring the government to stop the attacks and arrest the perpetrators. “We need to make it clear that this cannot happen in Israel,” said Yael Ben Saadon, a SHATIL intern who has worked with Tag Meir for the last several months.

Tag Meir acts on three fronts: they engage with the media by publicizing events in Arab communities in order to create greater public awareness of the attacks; they lobby the government and the Knesset to have Price Tag labeled as terrorism, and to make Price Tag victims eligible for government compensation; and third, Tag Meir member groups are preparing education programs for students, teachers, and youth movements about racism in Israel and the need for Israel to respect its religious and ethnic minorities.

Sunday’s demonstration drew almost a thousand people to the Netanyahu home. Demonstrators gathered outside the gate and held signs advocating solidarity between Jews and Arabs – click here to view more photos from the event »

Speakers at the demonstration included Labor MK Merav Michaeli, who decried the lack of political and government figures present at the rally; Nidal Othman, head of the Coalition Against Racism; and Rabbi Benny Lau, a prominent Orthodox Rabbi in Jerusalem, among others.

“The price tag is not only those who perforate [car tires], burn, and vandalize,” Rabbi Lau told the crowd. “Price Tag is too much silence by ordinary people. Price tag is also a person who does not stand up and protest.”

Both the protest and the NIF statement demonstrate that many Israeli citizens and Jews around the world are appalled by extensive Price Tag attacks, which they see as an affront to Israeli democracy and its liberal values. “It shows that the Israeli public is sick of this,” says Ben Saadon, “and people are starting to wake up to it.”