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Issues of the Day Bigotry Has No Place In Israel -- Or Across the Border

The attack on four East Jerusalem youths by a mob of teenagers in central Jerusalem last weekend took place amidst cries of “Death to Arabs.” The incident is part of a trend that encompasses politically-motivated and ideologically informed assaults that include, but are not restricted to, the insidious “price tag” vandalism and thuggery committed by radical West Bank settlers against Palestinians, their property and Jewish opponents of the settlement project.

Prominent political and rabbinical figures have shown tolerance, if not outright identification with the sentiments and actions of the zealots. The range of attacks appears to be spreading and the violence seems to becoming more brazen.


On the other side of the border, in the Palestinian Territories and Egypt, reports of anti-Jewish depictions and belligerence toward Israel are reported to be rife in educational materials and on state sponsored media. The Iranian regime and Hezbollah regularly churn out canards meant to incite their constituents against Israel and the Jewish people. The propaganda is toxic and will contaminate for generations the air we share in the region.


Hatred and bigotry is a common currency in the Middle East. At a time when weapons of mass destruction are being positioned and prepared, bigotry and hatred, whether “soft” and confined to words and images or “hard” when expressed in violence, bangs the drums of warmongering ever louder.


It is difficult to conceive that any movement toward coexistence can come about in such an atmosphere. There are only two means to reverse the trend: Education and encountering the other.


If the Palestinian Authority truly wants to be a partner to peace it will have to show Israelis, including the majority that seeks a just accommodation with our Palestinian neighbors, that it is willing not only due rein in terrorism, but to go the further step of educating its people for peace, salaam  and sulha, reconciliation.


For our part, we Israelis must demand of our government to adhere to the values of the majority of the population, and not those of the nationalistic right and religious fundamentalists who find virtue in extremism and insularity. Rather than the right-wing tilt of education ministry programs mandated under the rubric of  strengthening “heritage” through student tours of the West Bank, traditional Jewish teaching of coexistence and tolerance should be emphasized in light of events such as last weekend's brutal beating in the nation's capital.


Moving toward a culture of shalom and pius, peace and rapprochement is key to the future wellbeing of Israel and its neighbors. 

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved