It is difficult to express in words how insulted and shocked we were after a group of hooligan terrorists slashed tires and spray-painted anti-Arab graffiti in our town of Abu Ghosh. As a local, I cannot recall an incident that angered us more; that hurt us so much. And I understand why. After all, the residents of Abu Ghosh have been a symbol of co-existence and hope since the country's inception. And now these hooligans try to damage this co-existence with their despicable acts.
The temptation to fall into the nationalist terrorists' trap is great. It is so easy to take on the role of the victim; to blame and destroy. But this is not our way. It never has been, and it never will be. Here in Abu Ghosh, we implement a "price tag" policy of a different kind: Wherever the hooligans destroy, we will build; whatever filth they leave behind, we will clean up. We will not let them destroy the co-existence we have worked so hard to maintain for so many years. Years of education for co-existence will not be washed away in the dirt of the hooligans' hate slogans.
However, the State of Israel cannot shirk its responsibility and claim it has nothing to with these acts. These hooligans do not live in a void. They live in this country and in its atmosphere.
First of all, the hooligans are certain they will not get caught. This is truly bizarre: The State manages to catch enemies of Israel overseas yet it is unable to apprehend a bunch of punks who live here. Furthermore, we must realize that these "price tag" acts are the direct result of the general atmosphere in the country, where some don't allow Arabs to swim in pools with Jews and where police officers publicly humiliate Arab citizens. The "price tag" policy is also a direct result of the humiliation of Arabs at government offices and of the racist remarks made by cynical Israeli politicians who have no conscience.
Despite all this, I remain optimistic. Personally, I feel that the foundations of the co-existence we have built here in Abu Ghosh are very strong. I must say that I was moved by the hundreds of text messages and emails I received from my Jewish friends following the incident.
As far as the residents of Abu Ghosh are concerned, the best response to these "price tag acts" would be for you to flock to the town in droves. You will be greeted with kindness and generosity. This is our "price tag."
Jawdat Ibrahim is the owner of a hummus restaurant in Abu Ghosh and is an acquaintance of prominent figures in Israel and the Arab world