Peace has a price, but this is not the way

They’ve apparently struck again. Israel’s cowardly vandals, known by their nom de punk as “price tag,” seemed to turn their ire this week against a Catholic monastery outside Jerusalem.

Unlike many prior high-profile price tag incidents that occurred in the West Bank, the Aug. 19 attack on the Beit Jamal Monastery in Beit Shemesh took place in Israel proper.

And instead of seeking to intimidate local Palestinians, the vandals in this case directed their hate toward the Sisters of Bethlehem, an order of nuns who have taken a vow of silence and have quietly inhabited the monastery for years. They support themselves by making and selling  beautiful ceramics.

The Hebrew terms for “death to the gentiles” and “price tag” were scrawled on the monastery walls.

Needless to say, most Israelis were horrified and disgusted by this attack.

As the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks continues apace, we are bound to see provocative actions by extremists on both sides. There are those, both Jewish and Arab, who want nothing more than to see the talks fail.

We do not mean to equate the actions of the price tag vandals, reprehensible though they are, with those of Palestinian terrorists who use lethal means to cause havoc and despair. Nevertheless, we must strongly condemn the actions of these Jewish extremists, who have committed more than 780 acts of vandalism and violence primarily against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

The criminals have struck all over Israel and the West Bank. Fortunately, Israeli police take price tag actions seriously. As of June, 165 cases were filed, 76 suspects arrested and 31 indictments filed with the courts. Though the government has declined to officially label price tag attacks as “terror,” some officials, including Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, call it what it is.

Even Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the fiercely pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi party, called the actions of price tag “ immoral and un-Jewish.”

There is little leverage the world Jewish community can wield to influence the actions of Palestinian terrorists. But as Jews we can speak with one voice and denounce the repugnant actions of a few hate-filled Jewish extremists.

To price tag activists we say: “Not in our name.”