FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Price of Torching Mosques

Jewish far-right groups responsible for a series of arson attacks on West Bank mosques over the past year broke dangerous ground last week when they turned their attention for the first time to holy places inside Israel. A mosque was torched, followed days later by an attack on Muslim and Christian graves.

In each case the settlers left their calling card – the words “Price tag”, indicating an act of revenge – scrawled on their handiwork.

None of the recent attacks against Palestinians has led to prosecutions. The so-called “Jewish division” of the Shin Bet secret police, which is charged with solving such crimes, is known to be more than half-hearted about pursuing investigations. Like many state institutions, including the army, its ranks are filled with settlers.

Paradoxically, a recent report from the Shin Bet warned that Jewish terror networks were not only flourishing in the hothouses of the West Bank’s settlements but growing bolder because of this impunity.

The desecration last week of a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya, in northern Israel, should not therefore have been a surprise. It was followed at the weekend by the despoiling of two cemeteries in Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv.

The goal of the settler movement is to destroy any hope of a two-state solution, which is seen as limiting the Jewish people’s right to all of the land promised by God. Egged on by an ever larger number of rabbis, the hardliners in this camp are too blinkered to understand that Israeli leaders, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have already voided the peace process.

It was no coincidence that the torching of Tuba’s mosque came in the wake of an application last month to the United Nations by Mahmoud Abbas to recognise Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian Authority president raised the stakes, and so too did the settlers – by this time including Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority, a fifth of the population, in their “price tag”.

The Jewish extremists’ new strategy is apparently to stoke hatred and violence on both sides of the Green Line. As has been noted by Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center, an Arab Israeli advocacy group, the intention is to drain any residual support among Israeli Jews for a Palestinian state by persuading them that they are in an apocalyptic struggle for survival.

The target was carefully chosen in this regard. Tuba is one of a few fervently “loyal” Arab communities in Israel. While many Bedouin were expelled during the 1948 war that created Israel, the tribes of Tuba and Zangariya had an area next to Jewish communities set aside as a reward for fighting alongside Israel’s armed forces.

Deprived of jobs and facing the same discrimination suffered by the rest of the Arab minority, many young men still serve, like their grandfathers, in the Israeli army. After the mosque attack, a community leader boasted to an Israeli reporter: “We were among the founders of the state of Israel.”

But as news of the mosque’s desecration spread, enraged youth burnt government buildings, fired their army-issue rifles into the air and clashed with police. The settlers’ dream of setting the Galilee ablaze briefly looked like it might be realised.

Last Saturday, following the attack on Jaffa’s graves, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a nearby synagogue in reprisal, further inflaming tensions.

Netanyahu was among those who denounced the mosque’s torching, but the logic of his approach to the peace process accords with the militant settlers’. He and his far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have created a climate in which the narrative of an epic Jewish battle for survival sounds plausible to many ordinary Israelis.

Like the settlers, Netanyahu opposes the emergence of a meaningful Palestinian state; he too implies that the world’s anger at Israel is fuelled by anti-Semitism; and he too wants to reopen the “1948 file”, a historical reckoning in which the Arab minority’s status as citizens would be reappraised.

And like the settlers, Netanyahu approaches peace with an iron fist that demands at best Palestinian capitulation, and suggests at worst a future in which a second wave of ethnic cleansing might be necessary to “finish the job” of 1948.

Celebrations in the occupied territories at Abbas’s UN move – a solitary act of defiance by the Palestinian leader – will quickly sour as it becomes clear that the US and Israel are in no mood to make concessions. The question is: what next? Despite the best efforts of Netanyahu and the hardline settlers to shape the answer, it may not be to their liking.

With no hope of statehood, Palestinians will have to devise their own new strategy for coping with the reality of an apartheid system in which the Jewish settlers become their permanent neighbours. Trapped in a single state ruled over by their occupiers, Palestinians are likely to draw on the experience of their cousins inside Israel.

Israel’s Arab community has been struggling with marginalisation and subordination within a Jewish state for decades. They have responded with a vocal campaign for equality that has antagonised the Jewish majority and resulted in a wave of anti-Arab legislation.

The two Palestinian communities, both confronting a harsher future under Israeli rule, have every incentive to develop a unified platform and struggle jointly – and more powerfully – against an overarching regime of Jewish privilege.

Their response could be tit-for-tat violence – that is certainly what the settlers would prefer. But a more effective and likely long-term strategy is a civil rights movement much like the ones that fought against Jim Crow laws in the US and against apartheid in South Africa. A simple rallying cry, voiced to a world exasperated by Israel’s self-destructive behaviour, would be “one person, one vote”.

Netanyahu and the settlers hope to subdue Palestinians with the establishment of a Greater Israel. But as the conflagration of mosques suggests, they may ultimately achieve the opposite. By reminding Palestinians on either side of the Green Line of their common fate, Israel may yet unleash a force too powerful to control. The price tag – this time demanded by Palestinians – will be high indeed for the Jewish supremacists.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.


 

More articles by:

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
Charles Pierson
With Enemies Like These, Trump Doesn’t Need Friends
Lawrence Davidson
The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Scourge in the White House
Urvashi Sarkar
“Not a Blade of Grass Grew:” Living on the Edge of the Climate Crisis in the Sandarbans of West Bengal.
Thomas Knapp
Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
Dean Baker
Is There Any Lesser Authority Than Alan Greenspan?
Gary Leupp
Warren’s Ethnic Issue Should Not Go Away
George Ochenski
Memo to Trump: Water Runs Downhill
Jeff Cohen
What George Carlin Taught Us about Media Propaganda by Omission
Stephen Martin
The Perspicacity of Mcluhan and Panopticonic Plans of the MIC
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail