The New York Times reported today about a fire in a mosque in the Palestinian village of Luban al Sharqiya, but the point of the article wasn’t the tragedy of the conflagration but the theoretical possibility that a Jew was the arsonist.
The problem is, while there have been a few isolated incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Palestinian villages (and numerous, far-from-isolated instances of Palestinians attacking Jews in and around settlements), as the Times reports, there is absolutely no evidence that the mosque fire was started by a Jewish extremist and not even proof that arson started the fire. But that doesn’t stop Palestinians from making such accusations and using them as an excuse to avoid peace with Israel. Nor does anything prevent the Times from reporting unfounded accusations as though they were reasonable opinions.
But in reading about the mystery of the fire in the mosque in this village south of Nablus, one couldn’t help but remember the burning of another house of worship not far away. Less than 10 years ago, in the fall of 2000, a Palestinian mob, aided and abetted by Palestinian Authority “policemen,” attacked the Tomb of Joseph, a Jewish shrine and synagogue inside Nablus. The mob sacked the Jewish institution, desecrated sacred Jewish objects, and then burned it to the ground.
Neither at the time nor since have Palestinians apologized for that crime, although the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews have apologized for the few instances where Jews have committed such an outrage. Nor did the Palestinian Authority apologize or help to rebuild the Tomb or restore Jewish worship to the place.
The fire at Luban al Sharqiya may be a mystery. What happened at the Tomb of Joseph was not. Nor was the burning of the synagogues left behind by the Jews in Gaza, committed by similarly bloodthirsty Arab mobs. While even the possibility of unprovoked Jewish violence against Arabs is deeply troubling, the cries of outrage from that Arab village and elsewhere among the Palestinians would have more credibility if they were just as outspoken in denouncing the hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of Arab violence against Jews in the territories that occur every year.