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1 killed, 2 injured in Israeli shelling at Deir al-Balah
Palestinians demand action against 'wave of hatred' in Israel
Published Monday 12/05/2014 (updated) 20/05/2014 12:35
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Two Ultra Orthodox Jews look at graffiti on the wall of a church
reading in Hebrew "King David King of the Jews and Jesus is
garbage, Price tag" on May 9, 2014 in Jerusalem.(AFP/Thomas Coex)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A recent wave of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and church property in Israel has prompted community leaders to express outrage at the culture of impunity and growing extremism which allow attacks to go unpunished.

On Friday, vandals spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti on a Jerusalem church, one of at least a dozen attacks in the past two months by Jewish extremists who have also set fire to mosques, slashed tires of Palestinian cars, and vandalized church property and religious cemeteries.

The pope's visit to the Holy Land on May 25 has increased attention surrounding the incidents, but Palestinian religious and community leaders say hate crimes targeting Palestinians have always existed, and are in some cases encouraged by Israeli government policy.

"The (Israeli) government is not doing enough; with all these attacks we didn't see any arrests. We fear there is a political cover-up from parties in Israel who don't want the incidents to be exploited," Rev. Jamal Khader, spokesman for the pope's visit to Palestine, told Ma'an.

Khader says that there is most likely no link between the increase in attacks and the pope's visit, but he worries that impunity for incidences of vandalism will eventually lead to more serious crimes against Palestinians.

"If they create this wave of hatred the next move will be attacking people. We should not wait until they translate into physical attacks against clergy and local Christians."

Bernard Sabella, an expert on Palestinian Christian history, says that historically, attacks on Christian institutions and clergy by extremist Jewish groups are not new, but still leave a "sour taste" for Palestinians.

"There are elements within the Israeli political structure that don't want to pursue the persecution of these people, or they don't think it is a high priority," Sabella told Ma'an.

"Unfortunately when these attacks take place we don't see the Israeli prime minister and other high officials taking action by visiting the sites of such attacks."

Sabella says that some extremist religious Jews see attacks against Christian institutions as a "mitzvah," or commandment, while others are deliberately responding to the pope's upcoming visit by demonstrating opposition to the presence of Christians in Israel.

"That leaves a really sour taste in our mouths and we feel that this is not fair. This is hitting the Christian community and telling the local Christians that they are not welcome."

Palestinians stand next to graffiti reading in Hebrew "Arabs Out" on the
wall of a mosque in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Faham on
April 18, 2014 (AFP/File Jack Guez)

Policy of expulsion

On Sunday, Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal condemned the wave of attacks and questioned the Israeli government's commitment to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

"Given that the vandals are largely unprosecuted, one must question the priority of the government to get to the bottom of the problem," he said.

To Hind Khoury, deputy chair of the board of Sabeel, an ecumenical center in Jerusalem for Palestinian Liberation Theology, hate attacks are part of a wider context of policies designed to put pressure on Palestinian communities in both Israel and the occupied West Bank.

"There is an accepted policy whereby a ruling power is allowed to pursue this policy of expulsion. This impunity has caused Israelis, who are veering more and more to the right, to become fundamentalists and to believe in their exclusive right to the land," she told Ma'an.

Racist attacks against Palestinians are simply another manifestation of this way of thinking, she says, with attacks specifically targeting Palestinian Christians a result of wider Israeli government policies aimed at separating Christians from their Muslim community members.

A recent bill by the Israeli Knesset legally distinguishing Christian Palestinians from Muslims, together with a recruitment push for Christians to join the army, is part of an effort "to separate and divide the Palestinian community, which is a diverse community of Muslims and Christians," Khoury says.

"They (Israelis) feel and are convinced that they have exclusive rights to the land and we are intruders. We feel very threatened in our existence in our country."

Rifat Kassis, general coordinator of the Palestinian Christian group Kairos, agrees that impunity for attacks on Palestinians is part of systemic racism within the Israeli state, but stresses that hate crimes only serve to strengthen the identity of the Palestinian community.

"We should see these attacks in the same context of settler violence against Palestinians or farmers, like uprooting their trees or setting fire to fields, and Israel fails all the same to bring these people to justice."

The recent concentration of attacks against churches in Jerusalem are not unique, Kassis says, but most likely a way of showing Palestinian Christians that they are not protected, and a way for Jewish extremists to say: "Don't think that we care for the pope."

"Palestinians are second or third class citizens in Israel, whether Christian or Muslim, and they know that the state is unable to protect them or provide them with equal chances," he adds.

The Israeli government should label the perpetrators of hate attacks as "terrorists," but unfortunately Israel fails to hold its Jewish citizens accountable for attacks against Palestinians, Kassis says.

Last week, the Roman Catholic church demanded that Israel act following the discovery of racist slogans daubed on a Vatican-owned property in Jerusalem.

Israeli police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma'an that a number of arrests have been made and there are currently a series of ongoing investigations.

Police units have also adapted their tactics to monitor sites of high risk, he said.

Despite these measures, only one person is likely to appear in court and be tried in connection to the recent spate of hate attacks.

"Price tag" attacks within Israel, in addition to attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank, were included in the US State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, published April 30.
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1 ) JoeFattal / USA
12/05/2014 18:06
How can you demand action by a Government that is as much involve with what they call "Hebrew neo-Nazis", "Jewish Extremists", or whatever you want to call them. They both are the same.

2 ) Outlier / USA
12/05/2014 18:17
This protest against hatred is justified - a minority of Jewish settlers and Orthodox Jews have acted abominably and need to be forcefully dealt with. That said, Palestinians should practice what they preach. No more teaching hatred of Israelis and Jews in schools (including those run by Muslim organizations). No more exclusion of Israelis and Jews from events in Palestinian-controlled lands. When all is done, all parties will still be neighbors and should work to become good neighbors.

3 ) Bad Seeds, Bad Harvest / Bad Life
12/05/2014 18:26
Palestinians should demand ACTion AGAINST Palestinian actions, like
decades of stone-throwing, clashes, and TERRORISM, for now they are
only "reaping the seeds of hatred", that they themselves have sewn !!

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/05/2014 18:30
To Outlier #2: 'That said, Palestinians should practice what they preach. No more teaching hatred of Israelis...' Can you explain why they should NOT hate Israelis? I'm somewhat mystified by that proposition. What attitude would you seriously propose?

5 ) Mel / USA
12/05/2014 19:08
That's a tall order,asking Zionist-led Israel &its Jewish fascist/SS to give up that hate!1948 Israel was BORN from hate & has thrived on hateful double-standards &(white)Jewish-supremacist apartheid plans,from 1940's to today,with USG patronage!To assume Zionist-Israel has a troubled conscience about its bigotted segregation(Hafrada)& colonial racist terror is rather optimistic.Zionism's done its"best"to offend us all,whether Muslim,Christian,Jew or atheist!Resistance is a right.Terror is NOT!

6 ) Marcos / Mexico
12/05/2014 19:20
Simply unacceptable.

7 ) Yehuda / New York
12/05/2014 19:31
#3, Yes Mr Bad Seeds, and maybe we Jews reaped what we sowed during the Holocaust. Isn't that your logic?

8 ) Mel / USA
12/05/2014 19:41
p.s. And it's not just Palestinians who "demand" it. Americans,of all faith &conscience demand it too! We DON'T give our(expropriated)US-taxes to Israel to fund the Zionist Holocaust,or racist,bigotted apartheid! So MARK MY WORDS Obama,if you were NOT POTUS,&pro-Israel,you'd be persona non grata in Zionist Israel too(unless you converted &donned the uniform)!As would MLK Jnr & ANY human/civil/legal rights activist! We will not be peons to hateful apartheid,when we pledge allegiance to freedom!

9 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
12/05/2014 20:55
Yea, Joe, you seem to be at peace with the fact that the Palestinians preach, teach, live, eat and breathe hatred. Kinda like saying that Palestinian suicide bombers are justified in breaking international laws when they blow up buses and restaurants and commit mass murder against Israeli civilians.

10 ) Demanding Will Fail / Talking Has Potential
13/05/2014 06:41
Palestinians Demand, & Demand, & Demand, & Demand ..., but -1- That is Not how a peace/statehood talks work, any more than that is how begging for international donations works, and -2- Peace talks will forever remain the Only Route to Statehood, so * IF PALESTINIANS EVER EXPECT TO HAVE A REAL STATE, * THEN THEY WILL HAVE TO STOP DEMANDING, AND * START TALKING, & TALKING UNCONDITIONALLY TOO.

11 ) Ofer / Israel
13/05/2014 08:55
OK, so the Palestinians demand... So what? They demand a lot of things, They demand all the time. They are very good at demanding. I demand that the Palestinians will stop demanding.

12 ) Rami / Palestine
13/05/2014 09:41
#2 Your comment proves you've never set foot in Palestine or know anything about what goes on here. Maybe you should spend less time listening to the MSM and do some fact finding for yourself.

13 ) Dear / Ofer and Demanding
13/05/2014 11:11
If you read the article you would see that it is the Churches that are demanding. So here a little info on the Churches, RC Church has 1.2 billion followers. Combine this with all the other denominations and you have over 2 billion. Most of these come from western countries that support Israel, so you might find Israel will listen to the demands of the church and if they don`t you might find Israel having VERY hand times ahead.

14 ) Todd / Canada
13/05/2014 14:23
Not saying what these vandals are doing is right, as it is obviously wrong to damage someone elses property or to insult another persons religion. But if the UN doesn't consider Hizbollah or Hamas a terrorist organization (and they actually KILL people everyday), then I doubt Graffiti hoodlums should be considered "terrorists" - Criminals YES, but not the T-word.

15 ) Sarah / The Netherlands
13/05/2014 18:56
Brian come up with something new oke? BTW don't you remember who committed the first suicide attacks? Don't you remember it where settlers? I remember it very well.

16 ) Outlier / USA
13/05/2014 19:46
4., Colin, yes they have a right to resentment, but to institutionalize it is wrong. 12., Rami, explain your comment. Is there anything in mine - teaching hatred towards Israel in Palestinian schools, exclusion from Palestinian events - that is untrue?

17 ) Yehuda-7 & Mel-8 / USA too
13/05/2014 20:29
-7- We learned from the "Holocaust" mistakes, and
we will never again walk into gas chambers, without a struggle, and
we will never trust the international community with our own security !!!

-8- Actually, it is largely "just Palestinians (& Arabs) who demand it", and
* "AMERICANS and those of conscience Do Not demand" anything, but do
* EXPECT PALESTINIANS TO NEGOTIATE FOR A STATE THEY NEVER HAD,
* AND TO COMPROMISE ON EVERYTHING, until an agreement is reached.

18 ) carlos / us
13/05/2014 21:59
To 14) Hey Todd israel has murdered way more people than Hamas or Hezbollah. israel is a terrorist organization but it controls the UN and Western policy. If we want terrorism to end we must end support for terrorist organizations like israel. I want to change that. Boycott Divest and sanction israel!

19 ) @#14 / Canada
13/05/2014 22:06
Call me the T word, just don't call me Todd. What a dumb name that is.

20 ) Dear / Todd
13/05/2014 23:22
The Nazis only started out by painting a few yellow star of David on buildings. So by you logic the Nazis were only hoodlums.

21 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/05/2014 03:20
To Brain Cohen #9: ' Palestinian suicide bombers are justified in breaking international laws when they blow up buses and restaurants and commit mass murder against Israeli civilians...' Well -- as the Algerian revoltionary said when French reporters reproaching him for planting bombs in baskets -- 'let us have your bombers and you can have our baskets.' Give the Palestinians a nice wing of F-16's and you take the bomb belts.

22 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/05/2014 03:22
To Todd #14: '...then I doubt Graffiti hoodlums should be considered "terrorists" - Criminals YES, but not the T-word.' OF course not. 'Terrorism' only refers to violence directed AGAINST Israel. For example, it would be absurd to assert that Israel has made at least two former terrorists prime ministers.

23 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/05/2014 03:25
To Outlier #16: '4., Colin, yes they have a right to resentment, but to institutionalize it is wrong...' And what would you say Israel does? With its vad Yashem and its trips to Auschwitz and its obscene encouraging of the young to fantasize violence? Are you seriously asserting that you are in a position to criticize? The only distinction is that while the Palestinians may institutionalize resentment to oppose oppression, you employ resentment to justify oppression.

24 ) Mel / USA
14/05/2014 15:50
#15:Sarah:Correct:It was fanatical Zionist colonists who set off(1940's)the first ImprovisedExplosive Device(IED)in Palestine,against Palestinian Muslim,Christian &Jew,not to mention the British!It's all there in the British Imperial War Museum etc,recorded.Zionist IED's,tar-balls,poisoned wells,burnt crops,poisoned orchards,livestock shot & the 1st time the word 'terrorism'was used,to describe Absolutist Zionist militia's(Stern,Haganah,Carmelia,Irgun etc)racist rampage(ongoing)&slaughter.

25 ) Outlier / USA
15/05/2014 18:39
23., Colin, you must focus. This is about Israelis and Palestinians, not Jews and Nazis. Even as an analogy, your comparison does not work.

26 ) ian / australia (1)
17/05/2014 05:09
#16 "...they have a right to resentment, but to institutionalize it is wrong." Do you just say stuff and hope for the best, Outlier? What does that even mean? Either Palestinians suffered a great wrong at the hands of invading Zionists, about which they can feel "resentment", or they didn't. And if they did, they're more than entitled to incorporate it into their history and teach it in schools. (And you can't seriously be reviving Newt Gingrich's hoary old chestnut (or was it Mitt?) about the

27 ) ian / australia (2)
17/05/2014 05:13
(contd.) non-existent, hate-filled Palestinian math books. Or can you?) But Colin's point is perfectly valid: NO-ONE "institutionalises" suffering or maximises the opportunities it presents like Israel. Holocaust museums are in plague proportions in places with barely any connection to it (like the new eyesore in Ottawa) all beavering away for the cause. So what in Yahweh's name are you tut-tutting when Palestinians teach THEIR harrowing history to THEIR children at a fraction of the decibels

28 ) ian / australia (3)
17/05/2014 05:14
(contd.) Jewish "history" is broadcast throughout the world?

29 ) Outlier / USA
17/05/2014 19:32
26-28, Ian, you also must focus. What do I mean? Exactly what I wrote; that resentment should not be institutionalized - should not be taught in schools, espoused by religions or made governmental policy. George Carlin was right. "Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience."

30 ) @ Ian-26 / Agreement
17/05/2014 20:49
- This Zionist agrees with you, that "they have a right to resentment". However, Palestinians express their justifiable resentment through Global Terrorism, Murder of Civilians, and War Crimes, which they call "Resistance", and - I hope you will agree with a Zionist, that justifiable * RESENTMENT DOES NOT ENTITLE THEM TO COMMIT * TERRORISM, MURDER, OR WAR CRIMES, - Not at Olympic games or PanAm jets over Lockerbie, - Not at Israeli hotels or shopping centers, & - Not anywhere !!!

31 ) ian / australia
18/05/2014 05:50
#29 My google dictionary defines "resentment" as "bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly." Now, Outlier, with half of Palestine blockaded (and constantly attacked) and the other half under brutal military occupation, what attitude other than "bitter indignation" (at unfair treatment) do you suggest Palestinians cultivate? Perhaps the spirit of forgiving, sanguine acceptance Jews are encouraged to adopt ("...in schools, espoused by religions or...governmental policy") towards THEIR

32 ) ian / australia
18/05/2014 05:52
(contd.) historic suffering. Should Palestinians mellow out like Jews? Is that it?

33 ) Rami / Palestine
18/05/2014 09:00
#16 Yes, completely untrue. Palestinian schools do not teach hatred of Jews/Israelis. They teach history from the perspective of the Palestinian people much like American schools teach it from the American perspective & Israelis from the Israeli perspective. 2nd of all, you are forgetting that WE are under occupation. What sort of exclusion of Israelis & Jews in Palestinian events in oPt are you referring to? Do you want us to invite them to march with us through Ramallah during the Nakba rally?

34 ) Outlier / USA
19/05/2014 00:20
31,32, Ian, you asked. I think Palestinians need to be realists. They need to negotiate a peace deal with Israel knowing they will will have temper their expectations and cede some long-held dreams. Second and concurrently, Palestinians and Israelis both need to know that - when all is said and done - they will remain neighbors. They may not like each other now, but they need to respect each other.

35 ) Gimme a break / World
29/05/2014 18:39
Hamas and Islamic jihad want to wage a war of extermination against Israel and call for its destruction, what do they expect Israelis to do? Love them? Of course they hate them, what a bunch of pro Palestinian propaganda.

36 ) the world / knows
12/06/2014 19:04
#35 thats crap and you know it .. now go do a good deed .
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