“Price Tag” Vandalism; Who is Responsible?

There is a political gender here.

Dr. Moshe Dann

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Who is responsible for "Price Tag" attacks?

The obvious answer is that we don’t know. Yet, the police and media accuse “settlers” and “hilltop youths.”

After arresting many of them, however, the phenomenon continues. In some cases, the perpetrators were found to be local Arabs and criminals seeking revenge and in at least one case, a secular Jewish resident of Jerusalem whose mother is a judge. “Price tag” graffiti attacks in suburbs of Jerusalem, moreover, seem to be anti-Arab – but appear unrelated to any specific provocation.

So, who are the vandals? Despite intense surveillance by the police and Shabak, no one has been convicted. If a group is responsible, why can’t they be stopped?

The answer may be found by applying the Sherlock Holmes/Detective Colombo question: who benefits from the crime?

Condemning “settlers” and “hilltop youth” is convenient and serves a broader agenda of vilifying Jews who live in Judea and Samaria. Psychologically, it creates the impression of lawlessness, extremism, and anti-social behavior. That works well for those who oppose “settlements.”

Little or no attention is paid to Arab and leftist attacks on Jewish property. The media is reluctant to accuse Arabs of “price tag” attacks on Jews because those words don’t appear on shattered windshields and broken bodies. Arabs don’t scrawl “price tag” when they burn a forest, or stab someone. Arabs as a group are not blamed. The President of Israel does not show up when a synagogue is burned and desecrated.

Demonstrators are not accused of “price tag” attacks and blamed for destruction of property and stopping traffic to protest a perceived injustice. Mentally impaired youths in my “religious” neighborhood of Jerusalem burn garbage and paper collection containers; is this also “price tag”?

Police and media accusations of “settlers” and “hilltop youth” for vandalism -- without any evidence -- are meant to slander an entire segment of Israeli Jews. And, such misrepresentations serve a political agenda.

Graffiti and tire-puncturing vandalism is unfortunate, frustrating, and irritating. It cannot be stopped, however, as long as it is useful as a political weapon against “settlers.” It cannot be stopped as long as it is used to justify, or explain police incompetence.

“Price tag” attacks are useful to those who consider it a form of Jewish terrorism. Denigrating one group of Israeli Jews because of where they live is an example of a sickness within Israeli society. Despising Jews because of their beliefs is equally despicable. Tolerance or the lack of it cuts both ways -- visiting pop singers and politicians to the contrary.

We are all victims of “price tag” vengeance and abuse. Further fracturing of our society is not a solution. As long as we accept portrayals of major populations in our community as perpetrators because of a few misguided and immature individuals with spray cans, or acts of improper behavior towards others we will remain “suckers.”

Beware of labels; the next time the victim could be you.