To the sort of people who think that a few teenagers living in a shack on a hilltop represent the greatest threat imaginable to the peace process and world peace-- the so-called "Price Tag" attacks in which local Jewish farmers strike back against Muslim attacks as a deterrent against further violence are an obsession.
The investigation of a mosque burning incident has already resulted in arrests of people who couldn't have physically done it. But the arrests themselves are a form of "Price Tag" exacted by the authorities against community members to send a message. It's a particularly ironic form of message when the goal is to clamp down on those types of "eye for an eye" tactics.
States tend to command a monopoly on violence which is well and good, it's one of the things that states are for, and one of the few things that they do well, but that monopoly depends on the state exercising its proper function. The ugly truth is that the Israeli authorities have lost control of parts of the country, not just in places like Gaza and the West Bank which have been turned over to terrorist control, but in the Galilee and many Arab villages well within the '48 borders.
A sizable percentage of Israel's Muslim population lives in "No Go Zones", areas where Israeli police cannot operate and which they do not enter except on rare occasions. This isn't an entirely new development. Arab villages ran things their way, received state funding and avoided involving outsiders in their affairs. The village elders, some of whose families had backed the Israeli side in the war, took care of business and the authorities didn't ask too many questions.
The situation wasn't peaceful by any means, car thefts and copper thefts were and are common, and those cases tend not to be pursued. The owners are told by the police to accept the loss, collect the insurance and move on. Crime is widespread, income in those areas is mostly off the books and the construction is illegal and takes place on state lands.
Still the arrangement was mostly stable at least until the "wages of peace" kicked in and concessions to terrorists weakened the Israeli position. The old arrangements had been made based on a strong Israel that the village headmen could rely on for stability. The Oslo agreements showed that Israel was weak and unstable. As did the withdrawal from Lebanon, the evacuation of Gaza and every disastrous step along the way right down to the Gilad Shalit deal.
Not only did Israel look like easy prey with no future, and the Arabs who had supported it looked like they had backed a loser and would be forced to pay the price for it by their cousins on the other side of the border, but the left's NGO's were busy mobilizing and radicalizing Israeli Arab. On top of that a lunatic plan had been laid out by to compensate for the abandonment of Gaza, Judea and Samaria by expanding settlement in the Negev. The reaction of Bedouins in the Negev to this plan was about what could be expected.
When local residents are confronted with stone throwing, land seizures, vandalism, theft and assault that the authorities are no longer interested in dealing with, then it's inevitable that some will act to create their own law based on a balance of terror. There's nothing glorious about that, it's what happens when the law no longer works and no one has any confidence in its enforcement.
And that's only a thin slice of the larger problem. The Shalit case was a demonstration by Hamas that Israel can no longer control what goes on inside its own borders. But there are plenty of unheard signs within the forty-eight that the situation is deteriorating badly throughout Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood isn't just operating in Gaza and Palestinian Arab nationalism stretches well beyond Ramallah. The difference between most Israeli Arab MK's and Fatah and Hamas leaders is cosmetic.
The complex currency of transactions has Israeli security forces tearing down Jewish villages to meet demands by European and American diplomats, only for supposed price-tag attacks to retaliate against what European and Israeli leaders seem to care the most about, Muslim settlements. And if local Muslim tribal warfare gets passed off on occasion as price tag attacks, then so much the better as it will mean apologizes and funds from Israeli leaders.
Breathless reports on the latest thing those "crazy right-wingers who will tear the country apart"(TM) have done is a propellant for the inbred intelligentsia who are sure that the country went wrong around the time the religious began having too many kids, especially the ones from Yemen, but what they are ignoring is that Israel's surrender of moral and political authority has created a wild west that won't be put to bed with Haaretz editorials.
Jerusalem may have light rail and Tel Aviv may one day have one too, but the tensions in much of the country that never sees a minister unless he's flying overhead are about basic things like grazing space, water rights and not being murdered in your bed. And deeper inwards, Israeli cities are roiling with the same Muslim violence and native self-defense groups that are a familiar sign in London and Paris. The Israeli left and its punditocracy are still hoping to divert the country by raving on about settler price tag attacks, but is Jaffa a "settlement" now? Is Tel Aviv?
For the last two decades, Israeli authorities have abdicated control over much of the country, shown weakness in the face of terror and imported large amounts of migrant workers. All those things have a price and all the euphemisms about democracy won't change the equal and opposite reactions of teens trapped in lawless zones that their government created with its hybrid legal system and its deals with terrorists.
The left created this nightmare by encouraging and rewarding Muslim violence. It can either reverse course and uphold the rule of law, or it can start rewarding Jewish violence, or it can go on rewarding Muslim violence, punishing Jewish violence, while preaching about the sanctity of democracy, justice and the law. And those teens will take out their spray cans and write what they think of a democracy in which the Supreme Court declares itself above the law, where the police enforce laws against only one side, and where every minister who pounds the table about justice fills his own pockets to the brim.
While Haaretz writes its editorials, they will write theirs, and while theirs won't be nearly as articulate, they will be harder to ignore.