Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Blog

By Madelaine Assi
Summer Intern, 2014

Last week, a disturbing message was tagged on a Latin Patriarchate building, proclaiming in Hebrew, “Death to Arabs, Christians, and all those who oppose Israel.” Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. More than 400 similar attacks have been reported in 2013, and the vast majority have gone unprosecuted.

Referred to as “price tag” incidents, these acts of vandalism are intended to intimidate Arab citizens of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and are usually done in response to the demolition of outposts deemed illegal by the Israeli government. These incidents are continuing amidst a tense political situation following the collapse of yet another round of peace talks between negotiators as well as the scheduled historic visit of Pope Francis to Jordan, Israel, and the OPT at the end of this month.  

Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the acts, calling them “outrageous” and claiming that they go against Israeli values. However, with a nearly 200%  increase in these attacks within the past three months, it seems that mere condemnation has not been sufficient in curbing these hate crimes. The implications of the price tag attacks are clear: after the graffiti is washed away and the slashed tires are replaced, an increasingly hostile environment for Arabs in Israel and the OPT remains.

Justifiably, many have questioned why these attacks have been so rampant in a state that boasts one of the most advanced security authorities in the world. According to ex-Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) chief Carmi Gillon, the reason is simple: because Israel has no desire to stop such attacks. “We don’t see results because we don’t have the intention to. [In Shin Bet] There is no such thing as can’t – there’s don’t want to.”

Although peace talks are currently on hold, this minority of right wing extremists within Israeli society could potentially prove detrimental to the peace negotiations in the future.

In a world where a Palestinian youth can very well hear the knock of an IDF official at his door in the middle of the night, the lack of action to stop these hate crimes reflects poorly on Israel. With nearly 20% of Israel’s population at risk of being targeted because they are in the non-Jewish minority, how much further do these hate crimes need to escalate before the Israeli government steps in?  

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