Fresh price tag attack against Jerusalem monastery; no arrests made

Another “price tag” hate crime was carried out today against the Franciscan monastery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The monastery was spray painted with slogans against Christianity and Jesus. Names of Jewish outposts in the West Bank were also sprayed, indicating that settlement supporters carried out the attack. This is the latest hate crime in a series of attacks on Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The last took place only a month ago, when the door of the Latrun Monastery was set on fire.

In February 2012, Dr. Marc Gopin and I wrote about the attack on the Baptist church in Jerusalem. Back then, price tag attacks against churches were new. The police issued a statement that they were investigating the incident and would prosecute those responsible. However, little has been done against the perpetrators. This is not surprising, considering the number of price tag attacks against Muslim sites in the past few years, which resulted in almost no arrests. I wrote in October last year about the repeated attacks on mosques that went unnoticed. Now, it seems that we are witnessing the same story all over again.

I find it hard to believe that the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service are unable to find the perpetrators. Many consider the Shin Bet to be one of the top security agencies in the world. However it seems that its ability is limited to arresting Arab suspects, and it is unable to overcome an ethnic bias. Nationalist crimes carried by Jews against Muslims and Christians receive no more than condemnations. The offenders against Christians and Muslims know that they are not going to be held accountable. I am willing to bet money that no one will be prosecuted for this attack. Unfortunately, I also believe that attacks against Christian and Muslim holy sites will continue to take place.

Israel is in dire need for a major reform. It needs to transform from a state that exists to only protect the Jewish people, Jewish sites and Jewish identity to become a state willing to respect and protect all its citizens equally. Israel cannot continue to claim democracy when vandalism against a Jewish site ends with immediate arrests and prosecution while vandalism against Muslim and Christian sites are met with no more than condemnations and lip service.

Democracy is more than holding regular elections. It also entails the development of a ‘democratic culture’ within society and creating a system for managing difference without returning to violence.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Israel’s claim to democracy is challenged by the fact that non-Jewish citizens don’t feel the same security Jews feel in Israel. An ethnic democracy favouring one religion and one ethnicity, and promoting the superiority of one identity is no democracy. However, perhaps it is too much to ask from Israel to transform into a true  democracy within the Green Line, while the occupation is still intact in the West Bank.

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