Board of Deputies condemns price tag attack on peace village
For previous coverage see: Ulpana settlers frantic at steps to move them – and to end settler immunity
Neve Shalom Peace Village in ‘price tag’ attack
Israeli police have launched an investigation into a suspected ‘price tag’ attack on the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam on 8 June. Cars and buildings were vandalised and spray-painted with the slogans “death to Arabs” and “regards from Ulpana,” referring to the Israeli government’s decision to uphold a High Court ruling to evacuate five homes in the Ulpana outpost that were illegally built on Palestinian-owned land.
The village of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam is situated mid-way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and was established in the 1970s, as the first community for Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel to live together. It is currently home to sixty Jewish, Christian and Muslim families, with plans to build a further 90 homes to accommodate its waiting list.
In response to the attacks, the Neve Shalom Secretary Gideon Suleimani told the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper that “we are trying to promote peace and coexistence, and what happened here was a political act aimed at shattering this (initiative).”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews also released a statement condemning the attack, stating that:
“Neve Shalom is a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, and aims to show that the two can live together peacefully. It is a beacon of hope and has achieved international recognition for its efforts in this field.
This appears to be another example of a ‘price tag’ attack, but even by the standards of this disgraceful vigilante trend it is appalling, being the second attack this year on a school working in the area of coexistence between Jews and Arabs.”
‘Price tag’ attacks usually involve damage to property and violence, and are carried out by extremist settlers and their supporters in response to government policy viewed as harming settlements or following Palestinian violence against settlers. They often target Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank but are becoming increasingly common within Israel.
Media Release, British Board of Deputies
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemns, in the strongest terms, the attack last night on the Neve Shalom Peace Village.
Neve Shalom is a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, and aims to show that the two can live together peacefully. It is a beacon of hope and has achieved international recognition for its efforts in this field.
This appears to be another example of a ‘price tag’ attack, but even by the standards of this disgraceful vigilante trend it is appalling, being the second attack this year on a school working in the area of coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
The Board of Deputies, as an Executive Member of the Task Force on Issues Relating to Arab Citizens of Israel, supports the rights of all Israeli citizens regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
An Attack on Co-Existence
By Laurence Brass, Board of Deputies
I vividly remember my first visit to Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) situated in the picturesque countryside between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was about four years after its foundation in 1970 and I was struck then by the appropriateness of the word “oasis” in the name because this was truly a haven away from the bitter Middle-East conflict. On each subsequent visit I have been impressed by the increasing importance of the message which they seek to convey that Jews and Arabs can coexist peacefully.
So the news on Thursday that extremist Jewish settlers had attacked the village as some perverted revenge for the recent Government decision to evacuate illegal outposts came as a huge blow. I have sat in the classroom at the tiny school situated on the land next to the Latrun Monastery and I am appalled to think of what the children must have thought when they saw their own school gates daubed with racist graffiti such as “Death to the Arabs”. Another message at the school simply says “Revenge”. A sinister slogan painted in red on one of the vandalised cars said “Hi from Ulpana” (the outpost settlement that the Government decided to evacuate). In addition to the slogans, about 14 vehicles had their tyres slashed.
The so-called “price tag” actions are an increasingly worrying weapon being used by right wing Jewish extremists. It’s the name given to acts of random violence aimed at the Palestinian population (and even Israeli security forces) seeking to exact a price for any action taken against their settlement enterprise. Houses of worship are not exempt from these fanatics and recently Christian Churches as well as Mosques have also become targets for price tag attacks
This was the second time price tag vandals targeted an organisation that promotes coexistence. Vandals also attacked the “Hand in Hand Centre” for Jewish-Arab Education elementary school in the Patt neighborhood of Jerusalem on February 7, where they spray painted “Kahane was right” and “death to Arabs” in large letters on the wall. A visit to the “Hand in Hand” School near Kibbutz Eshbal was one of the highlights of the trip I made last year with the UK Task Force to examine the plight of Arab citizens of Israel. It’s Israel’s first ever bilingual learning environment for Jewish and Arab children and I treasure the photo taken at the school gates with the Jewish and Arab pupils together with our delegation. The Board of Deputies is a proud sponsor of the UK Task Force and continues to support its objectives.
The reality is that those who perpetrated these shocking acts deliberately want to sabotage any effort to promote co-existence between Jewish, Christian and Muslim families. Places like Neve Shalom or, to use its Arabic title, “Wahat al-Salam” are an anathema to the thuggish rabble whose voice is increasingly heard in some Israeli circles these days.
So how should one respond to this week’s shocking news? I would recommend sending a donation to “British Friends of Neve Shalom”, the UK based charity whose mission is to support Neve Shalom’s schools and educational programmes and to raise public awareness of the values for which it stands.
That to my mind would be the perfect “price tag” for these senseless acts of vandalism.
Laurence Brass was elected Treasurer to the Board of Deputies of British Jews in May 2009
British Friends of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam
Supporting Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens living together in peace.
Oasis of Peace UK supports the educational programmes of the village and community of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al- Salam (Hebrew and Arabic for Oasis of Peace), the first place where Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens have made a determined choice to live, work and educate their children together in the spirit of equality, respect and understanding. Dedicated to promoting peace, the Village is known far and wide for its Primary School and Kindergarten, School for Peace and Pluralistic Spiritual Centre. We are one of twelve Friends Associations around the world.