Forward Thinking

Shin Bet on Mosque Fire: 'Jewish Terror.' Chief Rabbi: 'It Means Nothing'

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Jerusalem Post reports today that Sunday’s torching of a Galilee mosque, believed by authorities to be the work of right-wing Jewish extremists, appears to be the latest sign that Jewish terrorism is “gaining steam” in Israel. The Post’s military correspondent, Yaakov Katz (bio) says the Shin Bet security service is worried that the phenomenon will only grow in the coming months as Palestinian statehood efforts intensify, and that they have “no clear way to stop this violence.”

In recent months, the Shin Bet has recorded a growing number of so-called “price tag” attacks, amounting to several dozen over the past year. These include attacks like the one on Sunday against mosques, the uprooting of olive trees, the puncturing of tires on military vehicles, the harassment of left-wing activists, IDF officers and Shin Bet officials and others.

A posse of Israeli leaders (here, here) and American Jewish organizations (AJC, OU) quickly condemned the attacks. ADL added a call for greater action against the price tag phenomenon.

On the other hand, Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was quoted after a sympathy visit Monday saying that the attack could be a “blood libel” perpetrated by non-Jews and blamed on Jews (here’s the Arutz Sheva settler radio report on Amar’s comments, in case you don’t trust Ynet), and “in any case, it means nothing.” (Postscript: Look after the jump for some additional Amar quotes I have now learned about that put him in a different light.)

Arutz Sheva also talked to two right-wing Knesset members, Michael Ben-Ari of National Union and Yisrael Eichler of United Torah Judaism, who complain about the “hypocritical” expectation that they condemn the arson (which they promptly proceed to condemn) when “nobody” says anything after Jews are attacked:

The JPost’s Katz raises some curious questions about the arson attack that could be taken to reinforce Amar’s doubts:

The target chosen raises serious questions about the motivations of the alleged perpetrators. While attacks on mosques in the West Bank have sadly become something of the norm in recent years, an attack on a mosque in an Israeli town is quite rare, particularly in a Beduin village like Tuba Zanghariya, whose residents serve in the IDF.

Not only do the male residents serve in relatively-high numbers in the military, but there is even a branch of the Acharay (“after me”) Movement in town, where one of the locals, a veteran of the Givati Infantry Brigade, works to increase the Beduin youths’ motivation to serve in combat units.

What the perpetrators of this attack were trying to achieve is unclear. Were they seeking to purposely destroy the already fragile and delicate relationship between Jews and Beduin? Did they want to torpedo the local youths’ draft into the IDF? To turn the focus from the West Bank Palestinians to the Israeli-Arabs, or to simply attack an Arab village with total disregard to where it is, or who lives there?

Here’s more from Chief Rabbi Amar:

“We are experienced people. As you know, blood libels about Jews killing a Christian child have been common in all generations. Damage was caused to entire communities, killing and loss, God forbid, because of those false libels.

“We don’t know who did it… It could be an insensible person and it could be a non-Jew. We don’t know anything yet. What it says out there, in any case, means nothing. Sometimes people do things and blame them on others.”

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, on the same sympathy visit, offered an unintentionally revealing comment when he

joined the condemnation but criticized non-Jewish clerics demanding that he condemn such acts while they remain silent after Arab terrorists attack Jews. [My emphasis – jjg]

Metzger said he was still waiting for condemnations of the terror offensive on southern Israel in August and the murder of Asher and Yehonatan Palmer last week near Kiryat Arba.

After I posted this on Facebook, Stuart Schnee alerted me to an important quote that I hadn’t seen, which puts Amar in a rather different light:

Something else the chief rabbi said that you sort of left out: “I and my fellow religious leaders are crying out for the police, if they have the alleged criminal in custody, to prosecute the perpetrator to the full extent the law allows,” Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said. “This is blasphemy, a desecration of the State of Israel, and a desecration of all peoples and religions” [Oseh Shalom Bim’romav].

and more that he said: “We all have to speak loudly against terrorism,” Rabbi Amar added, finishing with the prayer “He makes peace on high.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yona Metzger, Yisrael Eichler, United Torah Judaism, Shlomo Amar, Shin Bet, National Union, Mosque Arson, Michael Ben-Ari, Jewish Terror, Chief Rabbis

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.