This is a guest post by Yeze
According to The Times, a note was left at the Kfar Yasuf mosque:
On the tiled porch outside, the vandals left their calling card, a graffiti message in Hebrew that reads: “Price tag — greetings from Effi”.
Given the nature of Effi Eitam’s rhetoric against Arabs, and the incidents from Kfar Yasuf, it is reasonable to ask whether those who burned Qurans thought that they were passing on a message from him, or if they were in any way inspired or encouraged by his violent language.
Eitam is a notorious figure on the Israeli Far Right, whose pronouncement about Arabs have been to the great embarrassment of Israeli society and the Israeli political system. Due to his view of his own mission on earth and his role in Israel, some have accused him of being a fanatic.
Eitam has called the “Palestinians a cancer in the heart of this nation“, wants Palestinians and Israeli Arab MKs expelled from Israel, and has said that as Palestinians share in collective guilt and are ‘creatures who came out of the depths of darkness’, and that, of Palestinians with “evil in their heads” ”We will have to kill them all.” Eitam has called Israeli Arabs ‘a fifth column’ and ‘a league of traitors.’
In January 2009, Haaretz identified Effi as one of the three most extreme far right political figures alongside Meir Kahane’s former spokesman and heir of the Kach movement, Jewish National Front (JNF) activist Baruch Marzel, as well as JNF spokesman Itamar Ben Gvir. Ben Gvir himself has been convicted numerous times for vandalism and for possessing terrorist material.
You can watch Ben Gvir here from 1:55 refusing to condemn the murders of four Arabs by Edan Natan Zara in August 2005, given that “we are at war”:
Ben Gvir is a supporter of the price tag doctrine, telling The Times:
“We will not be suckers for the Israeli Government. We will not sit idly by and allow them to remove our homes,”
This week, Ben Gvir has blamed the Israeli government for the burning in Kfar Yasuf, and has refused to condemn the incident. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Meanwhile, far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir laid the blame on Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying their decision to stop construction in the West Bank was causing anger and unrest. “Netanyahu must freeze these racist edicts to calm the atmosphere,” he said.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) also stayed shy of condemning the attacks, saying that “those who wish to wipe out the Jewish people must not expect us to identify with their symbols and centers of incitement” – an apparent reference to mosques and Islamic prayer relics.
Ben-Gvir is the parliamentary aide to Kahane disciple MK Michael Ben-Ari, who is credited on the Knesset website with forming the Far-Right legal group Honenu, who are currently defending Jack Tytell.
Whoever perpetrated these attacks, I hope they are caught soon. Yet the burning of Qurans is yet one of a string of arson attacks perpetrated in Israel and the West Bank against religious minorities.
Whilst the overwhelming majority of Israeli society rejects such extremism, a small handful of agitators are terrorising Israel’s minority groups. Only two weeks ago, a Russian Messianic Jew had his car burned by two religious activists in Beit Shean, prompting two arrests. In 2005, a Messianic Jewish chess club was burned down in Arad by Gerer arsonists. There have still been no arrests in this case. In 2008, New Testaments were publicly burned in Ohr Yehuda by Haredi extremists. And now, in 2009, Qurans have been burned.
The targets differ: the motivation does not.
Where will it end?