24 March 2009

Far-right march provokes riot in Israeli Arab town

Young Arab demonstrators have rioted and attacked the police in Umm Al-Fahm, Israel, after a march on the outskirts of the town by around 100 far-right Jewish Israeli activists bearing Israeli flags. The Jewish marchers were protected by 2,500 policemen. The Arab counter-demonstration was largely peaceful, but the rioters injured 15 policemen. The right-wing march was partly organised by Baruch Marzel, the leader of the banned anti-Arab Kach movement.

A marcher named Michael Ben-Ari said, "All we are doing is waving the Israeli flag. All we are demanding is loyalty to the state.... The State of Israel is the Jewish people's state. We are here to voice our truth and not to create provocations."

However, views such as those expressed by Ben-Ari are seen by Arab Israelis as racist. According to Jamal Zahalka, the leader of the Israeli Arab Balad party and a member of the Knesset, "Racism is not freedom of expression, it's a criminal act and the law should punish it."

Jewish leaders from towns around Umm Al-Fahm have also condemned the march. Some Jews joined the Arab counter-demonstration (BBC).

So the remnants of Kach seem to be taking a page out of the book of the Orange Order. Not the best path to be going down, certainly, unless they actually want to turn Israel proper into another Northern Ireland.


Alicia said...

This fighting in Israel makes me so sad. There are good people on both sides. I pray for peace and for war to end. I pray for brotherly kindness to see beyond our differences and view each other as children of God. Truly our Father in Heaven must weep when he sees his children fight so.

Rashed said...

Thanks for the comment, Alicia. The worst part is that this happened not in the occupied Palestinian territories, but in Israel itself. Even though the Israeli Arabs are about 20% of the country's population, they get about 4% of government spending, according to the BBC. No wonder they feel discriminated against. The right-wing marchers are very aware of how the Arabs feel the state has treated them, so the only purpose of this type of march is to incite tensions.

Like you, I sincerely hope that there can be social justice and peace in Israel itself, and certainly also in the Palestinian territories, and that we may soon see the emergence of an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel at peace.

Liam said...

It's sadly not surprising, since A. Lieberman's party is entering the Israeli government, and he advocates such things as loyalty oaths for Israeli Arabs. Very frightening.

Alicia said...

When I was in Israel, I met the kindest most wonderful Arab family who lives in the West Bank. Morah invited my husband and I to his home where we met his beautiful family. They were so kind and so wonderful, it was the very highlight of our trip!! Racism is such a sad, sad thing. No one should be treated less than another because of their race, we are all God's children so that makes us all brothers and sisters, we are family.

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