I spent part of the day driving around East Jerusalem and environs with Hagit Ofran, the head of the Settlement Watch operation of the left-wing Israeli group Peace Now. Hagit is charged with keeping track of settlement growth, and she's fastidious in her work, and she's also become well-known, at least among a certain set of people who would like to see her dead. When we met up she very calmly told me that her phone might be ringing more than usual today, because she discovered grafitti this morning near her apartment that read, "Kahane was right," a reference to the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane. Then a neighbor told her he found another painted slogan on a wall that read, "Hagit, you're dead." The press was interested in this, she said, in part because it's the third time she's been threatened this way in the past 10 months.
The first time, the vandals wrote, "Peace Now, the end is near!!!," and the second time, Ofran came downstairs to find "Rabin is waiting for you," a reference to the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a pro-settler extremist.
As we were driving, the police called: They hadn't found the perpetrators, but they were on the case. The vandals in the first two incidents have yet to be caught, as well. Hagit seemed pleased with the police response so far, and she didn't even seem mildly perturbed by the incident. It's just part of the job of monitoring extremists.
Later in the day, after I tweeted out news of this latest round of vandalism, I received an e-mail from a self-identified settler who wrote, "Which side are you on, the Jewish side or the enemies of the Jews side, like Peace Now?" Hagit Ofran, I would only point out, is a self-descrbied Zionist who seeks to preserve Israel's Jewish majority, and its democracy and at that the same time afford the Palestinian people some dignity, dignity being a Jewish value, of course. I would also note that a handful of settlers tweeted back, inviting her to their homes to show her that not all settlers are lunatics. I took this to be an encouraging sign, but what would be more encouraging would be for the police to catch the people who do this and for the courts to punish them.
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