I can't recall how many times in my journalistic career I've quoted people saying, "His only crime was being Jewish." No doubt it's been hundreds of times, under painful circumstances. Thousands of victims of terrorism, hatred,and violence have provided all of us with countless opportunities to hear and voice this sad remark. Now, shamefully, Jewish ruffians are openly and publicly attacking citizens whose only crime is that they are Arab.
Price-tag attacks, which have become a kind of terrible routine in Judea and Samaria, are now creeping into Israel's pre-1967 borders. Over the last two years, dozens of such incidents have taken place in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Only the most prominent of these have reached the headlines. We are talking about innocent passersby being attacked and beaten, sometimes to the point of bloodletting. One victim was a Jaffa resident vacationing at the Sea of Galilee. Other victims have been a light-rail passenger, young people in Zion Square, and a woman driving to a condolence call in Jerusalem. The common denominator in all these incidents is that people were attacked just for being Arab.
It is incumbent upon all of us, the Right and Left, religious and secular, to repeat over and over to ourselves, our children and our acquaintances, that just as murder is murder and violence is violence, racism is racism, whether it is perpetrated by Arabs or Jews. This phenomenon — yes, unfortunately, it has already become a phenomenon, even if it is the exception rather than the rule — is patently immoral and a terrible violation of human dignity. It is the desecration of God's name, the God who created all human beings in his image. It also makes Israel look bad among other nations.
Such crimes also do serious harm to our chances of preserving an undivided and whole Jerusalem, as most of us would like. It could cause Jerusalem to be divided, which would be very unfortunate.
Such terrible incidents are made worse by the fact that so few of us intervene to stop them. Most of us stand idly by. This is not Jewish behavior. Silence exacerbates the sin. It is not enough for politicians, intellectuals or journalists to cry out against what is happening. Where are Israel's chief rabbis? Where are the haredi rabbis, in whose "domain" most of the attacks took place? Surely they do not condone the attacks? If not, then why are they silent? Is this in the spirit of Halachah and Judaism?
The fact that Arabs frequently perpetrate racism, incitement or attacks against Jews does not legitimize or justify hurting innocent Arabs. Even during wartime, the Jewish state is careful to avoid harming innocent civilians. We must be ever more vigilant in times of peace, when innocent civilians whose only crime is being Arab are attacked.
Our claim and birthright over the land of Israel and Jerusalem, as well as our righteousness against the enemies who rise up against us each day to annihilate us, do not in any way detract from what is expected of us as human beings, which is to rise up and spit out this abomination from our midst. Such conduct will only strengthen us. The thugs who are convicted of these crimes must be put in jail, but that is not sufficient. The Israeli education system must devote considerable time, thought and resources to preventing the spread of this sickness because if not, to quote the book of Samuel (2 Samuel 13:13), whither shall we carry our shame?