For the last two weeks the Temple Mount, churches, and several key graves in Israel and the West Bank have been the focus of tension, fears, and minor violence.
The Temple Mount
For the lat few weeks, the Al Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage, the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade and Muslim leaders such as Ekrema Sabri, have been beating the drums, expressing fears that Jews will desecrate or take over the Temple Mount.
Muslim fears aren’t coming out of thin air. Two weeks ago around the time of Moshe Feiglin’s usual monthly attempt to enter the temple mount, unknown parties distributed flyers in the Old City calling on people “to purify the temple mount from the enemies of Israel”. Feiglin denied any involvement in the pamphlets, but the timing of the pamphlets aggravated an already tense situation. Then Monday night this week, a home with right wing extremist documents discussing the Temple Mount were discovered in a home in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
The police have worked with officials on the Temple Mount to prevent riots and personal injury, but their actions have been criticized on both the Arab and the Jewish side. On Sunday, Feb 12, the temple mount was closed to Jews. This sparked outrage by certain religious Jews and prompted the Zionist Organization of Amrica (ZOA) to send a letter to the Israeli government on Monday, Feb 13. Continue reading
Hand to Hand School Playground - Jerusalem
Since our last report on price tag actions, there have been two more attacks both targetted at institutions known for working towards mutual understanding between Jews and Arabs. On Thursday, Peace Now was attacked. Over the weekend, vandals spray painted slogans for a second time at the Hand to Hand school.
On Thursday (February 9), vandals spray-painted a wall outside the offices of Peace Now (שלום עכשיו ) with “No leftists, no terror attacks”. The attack on Peace Now was the ffith within the last 12 months. Staff membe apartments have been sprayed twice with graffiti. This is the third time the peace now offices have been spray painted. There was also a bomb threat in November.
Then over this weekend the Hand to Hand school was attacked for a second time. The Hand in Hand school is run by the Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. It provides K-12 education to a religiously and ethnically diverse student body that includes Arab and Armenian Christians, secular and traditional Jews, as well as Muslim students. Its curriculum integrates peace education with regular academic studies.
Vandals spraypainted “Death to Arabs” and “Kahane was right” on the play ground. Meir Kahane was a leader of the Israeli Far Right in the 1980s. He advocated the forced deportment of all non-Jews. He was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 because of his racist and undemocratic attitudes.
On Tuesday morning , children arrived at the Max Rayne Hand to Hand school in Jerusalem to find graffitti painted on the outer wall of their school building: “Death to Arabs!” and “Kahane was right!”,. The Hand to Hand school is run by the Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. It provides K-12 education to a religiously and ethnically diverse student body that includes Arab and Armenian Christians, secular and traditional Jews, as well as Muslim students. Its curriculum integrates peace education with regular academic studies.
That same morning at a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Emek haMatzleva (valley of the cross), near the Israel Museum, someone had painted “Death to Christains!”, “Jesus drop Dead!”, “Kehane was right”, “Price Tag” and “The Macabees of Migron” on two cars and a stone fence outside the monastery The car tires were also slashed. The Jerusalem Municipality removed the graffiti by 9AM.
Those working at the monaster were upset, but determined to stay true to their religious convictions. One of the priests at the monastery, Father Claudio, told reporters “I am a priest. I will forgive.”
Police are investigating both attacks. They suspect that both attacks were the work of settlers but they don’t know if they are connected to each other. Evidence pointing to settler involvement include the slogan “Price Tag” and the allusion to Migron painted on the monastery walls. The Israeli government is forcing the evacuation and demolition of the Migron settlement against the will of its residents.
These two attacks come on the heels of a wave of suspected settler attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem and on the West Bank.
- Saturday night or early Sunday morning (February 5) vandals vandals slashed the tires of a taxi and painted “Death to Arabs!”, “revenge”, and “closed military zone” on a taxi and the steps of a house in Al-Janiya near Ramalla. (Sources: Reuters, Jerusalem Post)
- The previous Thursday, February 2, settlers in K’far Etzion slashed tires of Arab cars and threw stones at passing cars in retalization for earlier stone throwing by their Arab neighbors. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
- Also on Thursday, February 2, the tires were slashed on Seven Arab cars in Jerusalem in relation for property damage in the settlement of Mitzpeh AviChai. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
- Wednesday, February 1, in Tzir Gilead in the West Bank, a 60 year old Palestinian woman was hit in the head when settlers threw stones at passing cars. Many of the cars were also damaged. The stone throwing was in retaliation for two Israelis who were lighly hurt by Arab stone throwing. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
Some of these incidents, like the K’far Etzion attack are part of an on-going feud with a neighboring Arab village. One could argue that both sides are acting abominably and giving as good as they get.
However, it is hard to make that case for the attacks on the school and monastery in Jerusalem. Continue reading