Acre in perspective

There are differing accounts of exactly what happened in the northern coastal city of Acre, a “mixed” city with sizable Arab and Jewish residents, on Yom Kippur, but it boils down to this: An Arab resident drove through a Jewish neighborhood and was beaten up by a mob of Jews. Later, hundreds (if not thousands) of Arabs from Acre’s Old City marched across town, smashing store windows and lighting some stores on fire, smashing car windows, etc. Only large numbers of police have prevented bloodshed between masses of angry Jews and Arabs.

Here in Israel, this story has been absolutely huge, as if it were the Rodney King riots. Which is to say, at least slightly overblown.

To put things in perspective, then, means coming to grips with the following: Everything about what has taken place in Acre since the night of Yom Kippur has been deplorable. None of it, though, has been unusual, or even on par with the kind of rioting that routinely takes place around the world.

Take a look at what came over the news wire today: 

Rioters burn family of 6 to death in south India

HYDERABAD, India (AP) – Rioters in southern India killed six members of a Muslim family by setting fire to their home after earlier clashes between Hindus and Muslims left four others dead and 15 injured in the same village, officials said Sunday.

Tensions have been high in Vatoli village since Friday, when violence and looting erupted between the two sides, leading to four deaths, said Andhra Pradesh state Home Minister K. Jana Reddy.

Authorities imposed a curfew Friday, but were unable to stop the deadly arson attack, which apparently occurred before dawn Sunday, Reddy said.Three children, including a 2-year-old, were among the six burned to death, he said.

The worst violence [between Hindus and Muslims] in recent years was in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by Hindu mobs after a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a pilgrimage. Muslims were blamed for the fire.A series of blasts have hit India in recent months, and authorities have blamed Muslim militants in nearly all the attacks.


Take a look, too, at a brief history of race riots:

Are all sides in the Acre riots wrong? Of course they are. But is this violence unusual? Is it on par with other similar outbreaks, in its scope and in its severity? Not at all.

The trick is in making sure that the situation there, and in other areas of Israel with similar demographic tensions, don’t worsen to that point.


One Response

  1. When you figure out how to do that “trick”–avoid letting the demographic tensions ignite–please write show us how.

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