On Monday morning, Channel 12’s news website reported: “Suspicion of hate crime: Graffiti in a mosque.” The sub-headline read: “Stars of David and inscriptions saying, “Here they incite to murdering Jews,” and “Am Yisrael Chai,” were spray-painted overnight at the entrance to the mosque in the village of Deir Dibwan, east of Ramallah. IDF and police forces are preparing to enter the village to investigate the circumstances of the incident.”
According to many jurists, hate crime laws are distinct from laws against hate speech: hate crime laws enhance the penalties associated with conduct which is already criminal under other laws, while hate speech laws criminalize a category of speech (“Do Hate Crime Laws Violate the First Amendment?” Source: criminaldefenselawyer.com).
But when a person spray paints the accusation that inside a given mosque they preach hatred against Jews, how does the statement constitute a hate crime?
Never mind when the same spray-painter draws a star of David – is that an expression of hatred? Has the poor Magen Dovid reached such a lowly place in our culture that, like the swastika, it is always an expression of hate, circumstance notwithstanding?
The mosque in question should file a complaint with the police against the individuals who defaced its walls, and should they be caught demand monetary compensation. But to call graffitiing a statement of fact and a Magen Dovid “hate crime”?
And send IDF and police forces to investigate? What, the Air Force was busy?
The report concludes with a reminder: “Last Wednesday, another hate crime was reported in the village of Luban a-Sharqiya, north of Ramallah, where hate graffiti were spray-painted saying: ‘Am ha’netzach nilcham ba’retzach’ (the eternal nations fights murders).” How is that a hate graffiti?
This kind of ease of naming something hateful which it is not leads to the banalization of hatred, and once hatred becomes banal, it is arguably easier to use.