Posted by Emily Gian on 7 October 2011 at 11:20am:
This week has been a week of extremes in the Israeli press. Extreme highs, extreme lows, extreme people.
The low point in the week would most certainly be the news that one of three mosques in Upper Galilee Bedouin village of Tuba-Zangariyye was torched last Sunday evening, and the words “price tag” was written in graffiti on the front. The entire interior was damaged and holy books were destroyed (see more). Police believe the attack was carried out by right-wing extremists.
As one commentator put it, “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 in quite rare, particularly in a Beduin village like Tuba Zanghariya, whose residents serve in the IDF” (see more).
Whether we are particularly religious or not, an attack on a place of worship, especially during these ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is something that should be regarded by all as particularly shameful.
Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who visited the mosque along with Israel’s Chief Rabbis and a delegation of senior religious leaders representing the Muslim, Christian and Druse faiths, stated, “I am filled with shame for this hateful act. I came here, to this burnt Mosque, and I am shocked to the depths of my soul… This evil act is not only against the law, it is against Judaism, morality and spirit” (see more). Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the attack (see more).
Such an attack saddens and disgusts me, but is of course a reminder that just like in any country, there are citizens in Israel who take the law into their own hands, and we must trust that the nation has a justice system in which no crime goes unpunished. Additionally, it has been extremely heartening to read that there Jewish organisations, both within Israel and abroad, that are now designating funds to help buy holy books to replace those destroyed in the fire.
Of course, no country should be judged solely on the small minority who make up the extremist elements of society. Rather, something else that occurred this week should stand as a reminder of the remarkable success story of Israel and that there is so much of which to be proud – Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman winning the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Shechtman joins nine other Israelis that have won Nobel Prizes in the areas of Peace, Literature, Economics and Chemistry.
It is interesting therefore that in the same week, 200 Swedish professors and students have signed a call for an academic boycott on Israeli institutions. European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor slammed the boycott, declaring, “It is incongruous that in the week that an Israeli scientist was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a group of Swedish academics are calling for a boycott of Israeli educational institutions… This merely demonstrates that those who are involved with calling for boycotts against Israel are uninterested in the free transmission of values, education and progress” (see more).
So these academics have the temerity to single out one nation for boycott because it defends itself against regimes that will not recognise its Jewish character and wants to destroy it. And they condemn it while ignoring Hamas which threatens genocide against the Jewish people of that country in much the same way that other Europeans have not only threatened, but carried out in the last century.
We talk about Israel’s achievements often, and sometimes we are criticised for it, with people saying that listing Israel’s wonderful achievements is not an effective form of advocacy. But when you look at how much Israel has achieved in her 63 year history, there is much room for inspiration. That it does so in spite of the hatred around it, is even more remarkable.
May this year be the year that the extreme sides of progress, of goodness, reigns in Israel; where Israel’s amazing achievements continue to dominate the pages of the World News.
I would like to end by wishing you all a G’mar Hatima Tova – may you be inscribed in the Book of Life this Yom Kippur.
I would also like share with you this video of Noam Shalit and others saying sorry to Gilad Shalit this Yom Kippur for not bringing him home this year. I send a personal wish that Gilad Shalit is also inscribed in the Book of Life but moreover, that he is returned home safely to his family.
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The perpetrators of such a reprehensible act of evil as burning a mosque should be expelled from the country. We don't need such vermin to represent our values.
Hai Israel Hai!