Public Outcry After Near-Lynching of Arab in Downtown Jerusalem

30 August 2012 By Ruby Ong

30 August 2012


Solidarity activists out leaflets wishing the
local population a Happy Eid-El-Fitr (the holiday at the end of Ramadan)

NIF mobilized following the attempted lynching of an Arab youth by Jewish teenagers in downtown Jerusalem last week. Jamal Julani, 17, came within an inch of losing his life after a gang of religious Jewish teenagers rampaged through the city attacking Arabs. Paramedics at the scene of the attack spent 10 minutes resuscitating Julani after his heart stopped, before he was taken to intensive care at Hadassah Hospital. He is now recovering at home.

Following the incident, NIF-Israel put out a statement saying, "The near-lynch that was carried out last weekend on Palestinians was a shocking, appalling event that must set off a red light for all of us. NIF calls on the government to launch an uncompromising struggle against racism, incitement, and violence. NIF asks all bodies involved in law enforcement to bring down the full force of the law on those who committed this crime."

In the wake of the attack, NIF Israel Executive Director Rachel Liel also published an op-ed in Haaretz entitled "Pogroms and Patriotism: The State is with you." In the article she asks, "Is it any wonder that the lynch mob thinks of itself as a savior, and the thugs believe they are carrying out the government’s will, while the Israeli state itself pays only the faintest of lip service to its duties?"

The attack on the Arab teenager in Jerusalem came on the heels of an incident in which six Palestinians were injured after their car was hit by a Molotov cocktail and burnt out on a West Bank road.

Nine teenagers, eight of them minors, have been arrested for the Jerusalem attack and charged with aggravated assault and racial incitement. Three 12 year-olds from the Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin were arrested for the Molotov cocktail attack on the Palestinian car.

In immediate response to these acts of terror, the Light Tag (Tag Meir) coalition, an NIF-convened coalition that responds to incidents of hatred with acts of healing solidarity held two rallies at the sites of the attacks.

On Saturday night, the day after the Jerusalem attack, solidarity activists gathered close by to where the gang of teenagers had beaten Julani. Light Tag founder Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu told the rally, "The media has presented this attack as a spontaneous incident. But for some time, we have been warning about gangs of religious teenagers roaming the streets of downtown Jerusalem beating up Arabs. These youngsters have been whipped up by extremist rabbis teaching in their communities, and efforts must also be made to arrest these rabbis for racist incitement."

Several days earlier, Light Tag supporters had rallied near the West Bank Arab village of Nachlin where the Palestinian car had been burnt. The activists handed out leaflets wishing the local population a Happy Eid-El-Fitr (the holiday at the end of Ramadan).

Light Tag was founded two years ago to protest the “Price Tag” attacks perpetrated by extremists against Palestinians, Jewish peace groups, and even the IDF. Last week the U.S. State Department issued a report calling Price Tag violence by Jewish settlers "terrorist incidents."

Other NIF-backed groups also took action. For instance, Coalition Against Racism wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Saar urging them to set up an inter-ministerial committee to consider ways that education reforms can promote coexistence and eliminate racism.

Meanwhile, the dreadful incidents in Jerusalem and the ensuing public outrage, have served as a wake-up call for the authorities. The police investigation is being closely watched by the media and the public. Education Minister Gideon Saar ordered that schools devote time to lessons discussing racism and violence on Sunday, the first day of the new school year.