A grave issue

A grave issue

One of the sadder chores this paper has had over the years has been to publish photos of gravestones — desecrated gravestones.
We are referring to Jewish cemeteries in far-flung parts of Europe (and elsewhere), where deeply disturbed vandals have expressed their twisted hatred by spray-painting gravestones with swastikas. It’s one of the uglier sites we can think of, but a newspaper tells its readers only half the truth if it publishes just happy stories and photos.
There’s another such photo in this week’s Chronicle, but this one is more disturbing than most, because it shows a defaced Muslim gravestone in the West Bank city of Hebron — with a spray-painted Star of David.
There are almost no words to describe such brutal hypocrisy — a symbol of our faith used the same way skinheads in Europe use the symbol of Nazism.
As you know by now, the Israeli authorities, acting under court orders removed some 200 Jewish settlers from a building in Hebron over the weekend, the ownership of which is in dispute. Apparently some of the more extreme settlers living there decided to express their rage.
That touched off a wave of violence in which settlers set fire to courtyards and olive trees, terrorized Palestinian residents and even fired live ammunition, wounding one man. Homes, and, yes, gravestones were defaced.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rightly labeled the actions of these settlers “a pogrom” and said he was “ashamed” — as we should all be.
Whether you believe Israelis should be in the West Bank or not, these settlers harmed all Jews when they behaved like the same terrorists and racists we are dedicated to oppose. They took cherished Jewish values and threw them in the gutter. And made us look like hypocrites.
The saddest part of all is this is that it’s not an isolated incident. There were 700 cases of settler on Palestinian violence this year, JTA reported.
This type of behavior is not a reflection on Jews, or any decent human being for that matter. All politics aside, these actions must be roundly condemned, first and foremost, by us.