Responding to Violent Racism

10 October 2018
photo of Likkud bus ad

Israeli civil society is being forced to confront an increasing number of racist attacks on Arabs by Jews. The situation is being exacerbated by right-wing incitement in the lead up to Israel’s municipal elections at the end of the month.

In Tel Aviv, the Likud party slate for the city council has put up billboards around the city featuring slogans such as, “It’s us or them – either a Hebrew city or a country of infiltrators and an Islamic Jaffa.”

NIF grantee Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality is running a counter billboard campaign against this political incitement.

Most of the violent incidents in recent weeks have been in Jerusalem. On the eve of the holiday of Simchat Torah, after praying at the Kotel, several dozen Jewish rioters threw chairs, tables, and rocks at Palestinian stores and restaurants near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. Five Palestinians were injured. That same day, a Palestinian bus driver was assaulted on his bus in the settlement of Beitar Illit.

Tag Meir founder and chairman Gadi Gvaryahu said, “Dozens of Arab drivers are attacked each year in violent racist assaults. Only a tiny number of these assaults are investigated by the police and in most cases the assailants run free.”

Tag Meir combats racism as part of a campaign to support democratic values.

At the end of last month, four Palestinian students from the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Safafa were attacked in a park in the Katamon neighborhood. One of them was beaten and stunned with a Taser gun until he lost consciousness. Two young Jewish men have since been arrested and charged with aggravated assault following the incident.

Tag Meir has reported that a new Facebook page has been set up in support of the two indicted Jewish men entitled “Prisoners of Zion.” The page already has more than 9,000 followers and includes many vile comments such as “It’s a shame you didn’t kill them,” and, “It’s a shame the Arabs are still alive.”

Earlier this month, Tag Meir activists paid a solidarity visit to the Arab Mazariv family, who live near Migdal Ha’Emek in northern Israel. On the eve of Yom Kippur, two members of the family were attacked by 30 Jewish hooligans who shouted anti-Arab slogans.

Tag Meir brought an olive tree to their visit to the Mazariv family home. Their gesture was meant to offer living proof that a better future — where every person in Israel can live and care for their family in safety and peace — is possible.

They will continue to pursue people-to-people engagement in order to build relationships across communities. Outreach to the victims of other attacks, and to leaders in their community, is underway.