Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) condemned Wednesday's "price tag" phenomenon while simultaneously warning Israelis not to repeat the mistake made by leftists after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wherein the entire nationalist population was condemned for the actions of a "crazy extremist fringe."
Rivlin's comments came during a plenary session marking the 16th anniversary of Rabin's assassination.
“The phenomenon known as ‘price tag’ is perhaps the clearest test of our ability to implement these lessons,” Rivlin said.
“First of all, this is not a ‘price’ or a ‘tag,’ this is terror,” Rivlin said. “These villainous criminals, who harmed houses of prayer, fields, homes and property belonging to Palestinians, are Jewish, and this is ‘Jewish terrorism,’ that should be called nothing else."
“Rabin’s assassination carries two messages on democracy: We must have zero tolerance for political violence, and at the same time, we must avoid demonization of political groups and minorities,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin also cautioned, “We must not forget the delegitimization, the staining and blackening of an entire political camp that accepted the yoke of Oslo once it was decided upon. You have to remember, Yigal Amir did not represent our religion, or an entire political camp.
"Nonetheless, many good, kippa-wearing pioneers and right-wingers went to sleep on the evening of the assassination as good citizens who honorably opposed Oslo, but woke up on the morning of November 5th being called the enemies of peace, inciters, and partners in Rabin's murder.
"We must remember, while being sensitive to the victim, that in the days since Rabin’s murder legitimate democratic debate has been silenced in Israel," Rivlin added.
Rivlin concluded, "The demonization of an entire community, for the actions of a terrorist fringe, does not strengthen democracy, does not strengthen the weak segments of Israeli society - and does not avert the threat of political violence."
Rivlin’s condemnation of the so-called ‘price tag’ phenomenon – characterized predominantly by vandalism and property damage and as yet not proven to be a Jewish phenomenon– is a part of a growing trend in the wake of high profile incidents popularly attributed to nationalists.
The arson of a mosque in Tuba Zangariya – widely reported as being a ‘price tag’ operation and laid at the door of communities in Judea and Samaria by Israel’s press – has resulted in the arrests of four Jewish nationalists who were freed by judges citing lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, the desecration of Christian and Muslim gravestones in Yafo (Jaffa) was also roundly condemned and laid at the door of Israel’s nationalist camp by left-wing activists, politicians, and media figures. Police later said they believed the tombstone desecration was the work of ‘soccer hooligans.’