In what turned out to be one of the largest Jewish-Arab marches in years, thousands of Israelis came out on Saturday night to march through Tel Aviv to protest government policies that target Israel’s Arab community. The march was organized by a group called Standing Together, with funding from NIF and support from Shatil.
Five thousand people took part in the march, which was held following home demolitions in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran and the Arab town of Qalansawe. The timing of these demolitions was largely seen as motivated by a political calculus. Namely the need for the Netanyahu government to show that it was being tough on Palestinian-Israelis as the court-mandated deadline to remove settlers from the West Bank outpost of Amona approached.
Protesters also highlighted the brutality dealt to Arabs in contrast to the treatment of settlers and right-wing protesters during the evacuation of Amona.
The most moving part of the evening was a speech given by Amal Abu Sai’d, the wife of Yakub Musa Abu al-Qian, who was killed by police at Umm al-Hiran. “The choice to treat Bedouin citizens as enemies cost my dear husband his life as well as the life of [police] officer Erez Levi. . . who in their unnecessary deaths paid for your reckless and irresponsible choices. . . It is important to me to stand here and speak to you and pass on the message to the prime minister and the ministers: Despite your wild incitement, the racism and discrimination in legislation, in enforcement, in infrastructure and in government services – you will not succeed in dividing between the country’s citizens. All of you, who are standing here today, you are proof that Jews and Arabs can and want to live together and with equality.”
She also called for there to be an independent investigation into what happened at Umm al-Hiran.
Other speakers included Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh and Anton Goodman, The Abraham Fund‘s director of development, and Jewish and Arab pupils from the bilingual Hand in Hand / Bridge over the Wadi school.
Photo Credit: Gilad Kavalerchik