That doesn't mean the responses to such a despicable attack can't be educative.
No, actually it isn't like that at all. First, because no-one was killed or even injured. Second, because it wasn't the perpetrators who wished to come to Yasuf with new copies of the Koran, it was other Jews, some settlers, some not. The determination to see all Israeli Jews as if they were criminal thugs may be satisfying, but it's neither factually true nor remotely helpful to moving forward.
A delegation of Jewish religious leaders and activists, including some from West Bank settlements, tried to reach the village to express their abhorrence of the attack. But the Israeli Army prevented the group from entering Yasuf for security reasons as enraged villagers proclaimed that the visitors would not be welcome. “The people will not allow it,” said Wasfi Hassan, a local farmer. “It is like killing a man, then going to his funeral.”
Mr. Abbushi rejected the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could turn into a religious struggle. “It is a national conflict. We want an independent state, without settlers,” he said. But Palestinian schoolchildren brought to demonstrate in Yasuf on Sunday shouted, “Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud,” evoking a legendary battle between the Prophet Muhammad and the Jews of the Khaibar oasis, who were forced to surrender.
So who's got it right? The PA governor speaking to the foreign press and telling them what they wish to hear, or the locals, perhaps teachers, priming the school children on what to chant? Even if it's the governor, why does an independent state have to be free of Jews?
In Yasuf, villagers recounted years of problems with settlers in the area, blaming them for a range of ills, including what they said was the poisoning of a spring and the theft of sheep.Really? The settlers poisoned the spring? How did they manage to do that, pray tell? Given the geological structure of the West Bank, which determines how local springs work, I'll go out on a branch and say such an action cannot be done. Or rather, it probably could, but it would require a large-scale, sustained, industrial-scope effort. This never happened, not at Yasuf and not anywhere else in the area. Sounds to me more like the result of a sustained and society-wide policy by the Palestinians to poison their own minds and those of their children, many of whom have in the meantime grown to become parents, educators, and retired frail and elderly great-grandparents.
Also on Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to change Israel’s map of national priority areas to include several isolated West Bank settlements, along with large areas populated by Jews and Arabs in the country’s north and south. The plan has been sharply criticized by the Israeli left because of the inclusion of the settlements, which will now be entitled to additional government financing. Many Israelis saw the adjusted map as an attempt by the government to appease the settlers, who are furious about the building halt.
Looks to me more like standard if unseemly politics. The government is about to disburse large sums of money to lots of people, including many Arab Israelis, and they're throwing a sop also to a troublesome constituent. Not nice, but no different from any other democratically elected politicians.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said in a statement that the new map “serves as a blueprint for future settlement expansion.”He continued: “It reveals the extent to which Israel’s ‘settlement moratorium’ is a sham.”
Really, Mr. Erekat? Try us. Go on, call our bluff. Make us a serious offer and see what we do. Or better, simply agree to return to the negotiating table you fled from on September 16th 2008, when yet another Israeli offer to disband most of the settlements was on the table, and see what you can achieve. Come on, face us with a challenge, instead of moaning about how horrific we are. That's what running a country is all about: dealing with reality, not with wishful dreams.
Update: Chief Rabbi Yonah Metsger came to the village to express his solidarity. He was accompanied by the PA governor and dozens of PA body-guards, but the villagers wouldn't let him into the desecrated mosque. Interestingly, he told the villagers that the Jewish memory of the Holocaust "begins with the desecration of synagogues", one reason why such a desecration is such an outrage to Jews. This is an interesting anecdote for those of Israel's many enemies who insist the Holocaust is routinely instrumentalized to justify anti-Palestinian actions.