Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vandals Attack Mixed Jerusalem Suburb

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vandals Attack Mixed Jerusalem Suburb

Article excerpt

Abu Ghosh, seen by many as a symbol of coexistence between Arabs and Jews, was hit by vandals who sprayed anti-Arab graffiti and slashed the tires of 28 cars.

The tires of 28 cars have been slashed and anti-Arab graffiti has been sprayed in Abu Ghosh, a quiet Arab-Israeli suburb of Jerusalem whose famous hummus makes it a popular destination for Jews and tourists.

The episode Tuesday was the first "price tag" attack in Abu Ghosh, a Muslim-majority town with a number of Christian holy sites and some Jewish residents that many see as a symbol of coexistence. It came two days after the Israeli security cabinet expanded the legal tools available for investigating and prosecuting the racist, nationalistic vandalism that its perpetrators say they are exacting as a price for actions that they oppose by Palestinians or the Israeli government.

The security cabinet declared the vandals a "forbidden" group but refused to deem them a terrorist organization, as law enforcement officials had requested. Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, said that since the beginning of the year, there had been at least a dozen such episodes of vandalism in the Jerusalem area, focused on Muslim residential areas or Christian institutions. Over all, Mr. Rosenfeld said, the police logged more than 165 complaints of racially motivated crimes against both Arabs and Jews in the first four months of the year.

It was unclear what in particular might have prompted the attack in Abu Ghosh, a village of 6,000 just west of Jerusalem where the words "assimilation" and "Arabs out" were spray-painted near the slashed tires.

One of the oldest inhabited areas in Israel, Abu Ghosh was the rare Arab village to remain neutral during the fighting that led up to Israel's establishment in 1948. In 2010, it made the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the largest vat of hummus. …

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