by David, Summer team
David worked as an EA in Jerusalem from April until June 2014.
We walk down a street just outside of Beit Hanina, a suburb of Jerusalem. Last night Israeli extremists slashed the tires of 10 cars and sprayed graffiti of hateful messages, including a Palestinian school bus were they have written “Death to the Arabs” in Hebrew.
Muhammed noticed the destruction in the morning when he was supposed to take his kids to school. Someone had slashed his tires and sprayed “All Arabs are the enemy” on his car. Aisha, his wife, tells us that she thinks it is the Israeli extremist youth in an outpost about one block away that are responsible. They have been responsible for similar attacks in the last two years, after they took over a Palestinian house in the area.
Harassments like these are called price tag attacks. The name comes from that Israeli settler extremists put a “price” on events that Palestinians been involved in. For example if a settler is attacked in the occupied Palestinian territories, then Israeli extremists will conduct revenge attacks on Palestinians in both Israel and in Palestine. These revenge attacks can be everything from hateful messages to burnt down houses, cutting down trees and physical attacks on Palestinians.
When the three missing Israeli teenagers were found dead outside of Hebron the attacks on Palestinians from Israeli extremists became more frequent and crueler. A Palestinian boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and murdered, which led to riots from Palestinians in Jerusalem and surrounding areas.
The murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir were also condemned by the family of the three murdered Israeli teenagers, and in a statement they said that “There is no difference between blood. Murder is murder. There are no forgiveness or excuses for murder.” Many Israelis have also demonstrated against the Israeli extremist mobs that walked around in Jerusalem and attacked Palestinians.
In Beit Hanina we also meet Hussein that also had his tires slashed, among them the school bus that he drives during the day where the Israeli extremists had written “Death to the Arabs.” The Israeli police offered to take it in as evidence and take care of it for him. He accepted, as he anyways cannot drive around children in a bus with such message. But Hussein is not especially down after the attack. He has bigger problems right now; his house has a demolition order, which he will go to court to try to revoke next week. The price tag attack is just as he states it “a part of life here”. Israeli police is investigating the hate crimes, but without evidence and identifications of the perpetrators Hussein says it probably will not lead anywhere.
I believe generalizations and collective punishment never is a way forward and the vendettas that follow will escalate the violence.
Even in our own countries we see hate on Facebook and other social media and it is important that we dare to question hate and generalizing descriptions of both Israelis and Palestinians. To dare to be uncomfortable and question when others dehumanize groups of people, no matter what group. You can make a difference!
*You may also be interested in: ‘Price tag’ attacks: It’s not about the graffiti by Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din.