Ibrahim Hamza was up before first light. When he went out to his truck, he thought it was a simple flat tire. But it didn't take long for Hamza, from one of the founding Muslim families who settled this village west of Jerusalem centuries ago, to realize the tires of 28 vehicles on his street had been slashed.

Before the media — along with the police and later Israeli President Shimon Peres — began to arrive, Hamza and his neighbors found the spray-painted graffiti, in Hebrew, scrawled on a nearby stone wall: "Racism or Diaspora." The English translation does not quite convey the message, which is closer to "get out or else."

The vandalism two weeks ago in Abu Ghosh is part of a growing phenomenon in Israel and the West Bank called "price tag" attacks. Initially, these acts of vandalism — spray-painting mosques, desecrating cemeteries, burning Qurans, chopping down olive trees — were part of a campaign, assumed to be waged by Jewish extremists, to extract retribution for actions against Jewish settlements in the West Bank.