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Which Matters More? Vandalism Against Mosques or Synagogues?

The arson attack against a mosque in the village of Tuba Zanghariya in Northern Israel has been widely condemned throughout the world. Israel’s government and the Jewish state’s president also condemned the despicable incident, which has garnered wide attention in the international press, and both of its chief rabbis have gone to the mosque to express their sorrow.

But a Jaffa synagogue that was struck by a Molotov cocktail on Saturday after Arab protests against the Netanyahu government cannot expect the same solicitude. Nor should we anticipate a similar outpouring from Palestinian Authority figures after swastikas were painted on the Jewish shrine of the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus last week.

The willingness of a tiny minority of Israelis to engage in violence against Arabs is reprehensible. The so-called “price tag” assaults on Arab targets in the West Bank are an outrage and have rightly engendered a full-scale effort from Israeli police and military officials to find and prosecute the perpetrators. But the fact Arab violence against Jewish targets is not considered worthy of much indignation is of great concern.

Part of the problem is the bigotry of low expectations. Since Israelis and Jews are considered to be too civilized to engage in primitive acts of violence and vandalism against Muslims, these acts are treated as atrocities to be deplored. There is nothing wrong with anger about such incidents. On the contrary, Israelis and their friends should be angry about actions that sully the country’s good name and offend the values of the Jewish state.

But why are Palestinians not held to the same high standard? If a case of arson by a Jew is deemed worthy of international outrage, why not a fire bomb thrown at a synagogue? If “price tag” vandalism in Arab villages is troubling, why aren’t the same people troubled by swastikas daubed on a Jewish holy place, especially when hatred at the spot has already bubbled over into deadly violence against Jews earlier this year?

Unfortunately, hatred in the Middle East isn’t a one-way street with only Jews showing signs of intolerance, though you might be forgiven for thinking that if your only source of information about the region was the New York Times. Given the non-stop flow of anti-Semitic incitement that pours out of the Palestinian Authority’s official media, it is little surprise anti-Jewish attacks are so prevalent they are hardly considered newsworthy any more. Those who cry out for mutual co-existence and tolerance between Jews and Arabs must send their message to both communities.



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