Jews in Israel and worldwide can be proud of the community’s quick and active condemnation of last week’s attack on a mosque in the Galilean city of Tuba-Zangariyye.
But it’s not enough.
As you know, vandals launched an arson attack on the mosque, Sunday, Oct. 2, destroying holy books and prayer rugs. Graffiti was spray-painted on the mosque walls. Police later arrested an 18-year-old Jewish male in connection with the arson.
Some of the graffiti made references to Asher Palmer, a 25-year old Jew whose car was struck by rocks on the West Bank on Sept. 25. One rock hit him in the face, causing him to lose control of the car. Both he and his 1-year-old son died as a result of the attack.
The Jewish response to the mosque attack was immediate and powerful. Both Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forcefully condemned the attack. Peres, as well as Israel’s chief rabbis and clergy leaders from other faiths, visited Tuba-Zangariyye in a show of solidarity.
The response didn’t end there.
Nearly 1,000 rabbis in Israel and America signed a petition condemning the burning of a mosque, according to the New Israel Fund, which circulated the petition within 24 hours of the attack. Fund representatives presented the petition to the imam of the Tuba-Zangariya.
Ameinu, a progressive U.S.-based Zionist organization, designated funds to buy holy books to replace those destroyed by arsonists. As Ameinu President Kenneth Bob said of the attack, “This is not Zionism, this is not Judaism and there is no place for this in a civilized society.”
Rest assured, Muslims are watching the Jewish response, and many are responding to it in a positive fashion.
The Islamic Society of North America praised a statement released by major American-Jewish rabbis representing the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements that called attacking a mosque or any religious building “antithetical to the most basic values of Judaism, and cannot be justified for any reason.”
But, as we said above, more could be done.
Some Zionist and pro-Israel organizations did not issue statements condemning the attack. This is a moral issue, not a political one, and Zionist leaders ought to speak with one voice in attacking such criminal acts.
And one need only surf the social networks to find Jewish responses along the lines that, these things rarely happen in Israel, and we should be proud of that.
Granted, such attacks are rare in Israel, but they have happened. Our first response must not be to reaffirm their rarity, but redouble efforts to make sure they don’t happen at all.
For the most part, the Jewish world got it right in reacting to this heinous act, but it wasn’t perfect. Fortunately, it’s not too late to do something. Jews and Muslims can take this tragic incident and turn it into something positive for all. Let’s hope we do.