Sunday, October 12, 2008

A cartoon of Muhammad driving on Yom Kipur

This year's celebration of Yom Kipur, or the Day of Atonement, the most solemn holiday on the Jewish calendar, has been marred by a wave of ethnic rioting in the Israeli town of Acre, one of the few population centers officially recognized as "mixed cities" by the country. Approximately one-third of Acre's 45,000 inhabitants are Arabs; the remaining two-thirds are Jews.

As is usual in these cases, reporting on the events is contradictory. Both Jews and Arabs accuse each other of making a pogrom. Cars and shops have been smashed and about a dozen Arab houses have been torched. Both groups have suffered heavily in terms of property damage, although no victims have been reported.

However, what is not disputed is the incident that triggered the riots. According to Haaretz:

The riots, some of the worst the city has seen in years, began around midnight on Wednesday after an Arab resident of the Old City of Acre drove his car into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in eastern Acre, where he said he lived. Jewish teens at the scene said the Arab man was deliberately making noise and smoking cigarettes. The teens attacked the man and shortly afterward, a group of Arab teens arrived at the scene, igniting a riot.

I personally don't like people who make noises and smoke. I prefer quiet nonsmokers. That said, I acknowledge that neither activity is illegal.

The problem here, however, is that both operating machines (such as cars or CD players) and smoking are forbidden during Yom Kipur, and the Jewish population saw the Arab's attitude as a provocation.

And do you know what this reminds me of? The Danish cartoons of Muhammad. The Muslims were enraged at the clearly provocative cartoons, but, remember?, they should have kept rational. After all, they have no right to force their beliefs on European Christians.

I'm not seeing those who expounded that argument applying it to the situation in Acre. The Jews have no right to impose their superstitious ban on certain activities at given dates on the Arab citizenry of Israel. But the champions of rationalism who were quick to bash the Muslims for their reaction to the cartoons are suddenly understanding the Jewish ire at those who don't observe Yom Kipur -- or at least failing to condemn its irrationality and unequivocally assert that it was the Jews, not the Arabs, who started the riots after absurdly taking offense.

What's worse, the Israeli Arab leaders themselves have apologized for an individual Arab exercising his freedom! A declaration by notable Arab residents of Acre stated:

On Yom Kippur and all the Yom Kippurs, we respected, out of our own free will and sensitivity, the holiness of the day for Jews and refrained, almost every one of us, from violating its sanctity by declining to hold events and by not driving our cars. (...) We regret that a tiny minority of us did not take such care and chose to drive their cars in a Jewish neighborhood and hurt the feelings of their Jewish neighbors.

This statement is very telling of the state of Dhimmitude, or protected-minority status, in which Israeli Arabs live. As second-class citizens, they have to be very careful not to "hurt the feelings" of people who came to Acre only 60 years ago, when not a single member of the existing Arab population had ever in their life sighted a yarmulke. Of course, there's no reciprocation, and the Acre Jews freely drink beer, forbidden by Islam, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The response to the Arab notables' nonsensical mea culpa was a Jewish call posted on the Internet:

We will no longer buy anything from Arabs, we will not honor any of their holidays or any place of theirs. Arabs of Acre, go find your place in the villages. (...) A Jew is the son of a king, an Arab is the son of a dog.

This is a very irrational world we're living in.


Yitzchak Goodman said...

failing to condemn its irrationality and unequivocally assert that it was the Jews, not the Arabs, who started the riots after absurdly taking offense.

A number of people are noting that it was the Arabs who first carried out a large-scale mob-attack on random property of the other side. That doesn't sound very Dhimmified to me. Before that it was a fairly limited incident. I would concede that the Jews could have just politely asked the guy to not drive through the neighborhood. (If it is true that the guy wasn't intentionally trying to be provocative--I think there is some dispute over this.) If a Coptic Xian put a Jyllands-Posten cartoon on a sign on top of his car and drove through a Muslim neighborhood, nobody would say that it was the Muslims that started the ensuing riots, especially if the Coptics were the ones who escalated to riot-levels. But yes, everybody should stay calm, even religious Jews.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

By now it's clear that the Arabs suffered much more than the Jews. Arab houses have been torched but not a single Jewish home has suffered the same fate. The town's mayor has suspended a theater festival that is a major source of income for Arabs, in what has been widely viewed as a punishment of the Arab sector (even when the participants, both Arab and Jewish, insisted that they wanted to celebrate the festival to show that coexistence is possible and that they were not deterred by the violence). As icing on the cake, the Arab driver was briefly detained.

A strong case can be made that the Arab had no intention to provoke anyone, and that his driving into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood was justified because he needed to pick her daughter up from her boyfriend's house. By no means analogous to your hypothetical Coptic driver.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

That doesn't sound very Dhimmified to me.

The Dhimmitude is evident in the fact that the Arabs feel compelled to apologize for something that is not a crime, while the Jews, who were the first to commit a crime in this sad affair, don't feel any obligation whatsoever to apologize for their barbaric treatment of the Arab driver.

Yaacov said...

Hi Faux-Ibrahim -
You might note that 14 people were hospitalised as a result of the riots, and every single one of them was.... Jewish. How did you manage to miss that?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Any proof for that, Yaacov?

In any event, it's encouraging to see that you are now adhering to the principle of proportionate retaliation. Because up to a very recent time the kidnapping of two soldiers justified, on your mind, the destruction of a whole country. In that context, one would have thought you would approve of massive Arab rioting in response to the stoning of one Arab driver.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

The Dhimmitude is evident in the fact that the Arabs feel compelled to apologize for something that is not a crime

I was responding to that point. I was pointing out that the escalation to riot-level suggests otherwise. You sometimes seem desperate to make equivalence points. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons caused vast numbers of people to become totally unhinged. People died in the protests storming targets whose only connection to the cartoons was some sort of association with the West. Iran thought that it was somehow evening the score by staging an insulting Holocaust cartoon contest.

Yaacov said...

Proof, Faux-Ibrahim? It was reported quite clearly in the news, i.e. on the radio. That's part of your problem: that you don't really have any idea about what Israel is about, because your sources are so limited. But then again, it was also reported in Haaretz, which you read, sometimes, sort of. Which then raises the interesting question about your methods of research and presentation. When you see things that clearly refute everything you're saying, what do you do about it? Pretend it's not there, mostly.

Health Blog said...

That doesn't sound very Dhimmified to me.