Saturday night was the Bedouin town of Rahat’s version of Kristallnacht. And if that historical analogy offends you, let’s just call this an episode out of the Crusades in which the invaders sacked mosques on their way to claim the Holy Land for their own. It was the day 5,000 Israeli police invaded their town under cover of darkness to destroy one of the town’s mosques. In only two hours, the hooligans declared victory, the damage done.
What is it about the Israeli government? Most human beings and governments have red lines beyond which they know not to pass. Human beings may be afraid of the consequences of crossing those lines in terms of suffering social ostracism. Nations too often are concerned that if they act without inhibition that they will face ostracism on the world stage. Israel seems to have been born lacking that innate gene that offers a sense of judgment and proportion which might otherwise inhibit egregious violations.
How else to explain the latest outrage, the destruction of the Bedouin mosque of Rahat in Israel’s Negev. The ostensible reason? The mosque was built by the Islamic Movement Northern Branch during the 2009 Gaza war. The Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah , is the Shabak’s bete noire, having just been sentenced to nine months in prison for allegedly spitting at a police officer.
They needed 5,000 police in order to wade into the community in full force and destroy one of its house of worship. Thousands of residents met the invaders and riots ensued. Tin-eared? Provocative? Death wish? All of the above.
Whatever you want to say about the state-sanctioned vandals, you can’t say they weren’t sensitive to “religious sentiment” by removing the Korans and other holy texts before wreaking havoc. Imagine that: they know to remove religious texts but not to allow a house of God to remain standing. What is wrong with this picture?
The only thing different from the fires set by settlers in West Bank mosques and this is that the settlers actually burned the sacred texts, while the police in Rahat removed them. Though ironically, in Rahat they did a much more thorough job of eradicating the mosque. Perhaps the next time settlers wish to destroy a mosque they too should bring bulldozers to do the job properly. Let it not be said that the settlers don’t learn lessons in the proper way to provoke Palestinians from their government.
Rahat’s mayor noted the utter hypocrisy of the demolition:
Rahat mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban claimed the act was a direct offense against all Muslims…he added that the act was a “flagrant violation” of Rahat’s jurisdiction. “We have four mosques that were built without due permit, so they can demolish them all.”
So which one is next? Of course, virtually no Palestinians in Israel can secure a building permit for anything, which is why the mosque did not have one. Jews somehow always manage to secure building permits for their projects.
Whatever you want to say about the Israeli police, they do seem to have an exquisite, unintentional sense of irony. They praised their vandalism saying they:
…”Would not turn a blind eye and would protect the rule of law, all the while acting with the utmost consideration of Muslim sentiment.”
Ynet quotes the police further saying:
Not to destroy it would’ve caused even more damage to the rule of law.
Why is it that the “rule of law” seems to be a euphemism for persecuting the Muslim minority. And that the rules that are enforced seem to be so easily overlooked when offenders are Jews. What about those hundreds of illegal settlements built without permits? They get a pass because the law seems to be different for Jews than Muslims.
The IDF has destroyed a number of synagogues in West Bank settlements which were built during, and in violation of the settlement freeze. But without this U.S. mandated agreement it seems unlikely that any of these would have been torn down.
Israel is a nation hell-bent on poisoning relations with its Muslim minority. What it refuses to understand is that as long as it runs roughshod over the rights of the minority the welfare of the entire nation is endangered. Israel’s Jewish government is attempting to seal itself off from its Arab fellow citizens. But it cannot do so. If they are driven away, then the entire nation suffers. Israel’s Jews and Muslims are in it together. They will live together or die together. And the death of one is the death of all. The suffering of one is the suffering of all. Why do Israel’s leaders harden their heart like Pharoah to this almost self-evident truth?
John Donne’s poem should be the motto of contemporary Israel:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…