Highlights

 
Quotable
The hardest thing for me in Vietnam wasn't seeing the wounded and dead. It was watching the big transport jets come in, bringing loads of fresh new boys for the war.
Johnny Cash
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
December 20, 2008

Arab Town Blamed for Jewish Pride March's Cancelation


Peace groups angry at police slur

by Jonathan Cook

Jewish peace groups have accused the Israeli police of fueling racism by canceling a "Jewish Pride" march by a far-right group that was to have taken place through one of the largest Arab towns in Israel.

The police postponed the march, due last Monday, claiming they had evidence extremist residents of Umm al Fahm in northern Israel would open fire on the marchers and police.

"There was a real danger that lives could be lost," said a police spokesman, adding that the decision to ban the march would be reassessed in two weeks.

But local Arab leaders and Jewish peace activists claimed the police concocted the story to justify the cancellation of the march. Thousands of Jews had planned to form a human chain with the residents of Umm al Fahm at the entrance to the town to block the way of the Jewish National Front.

Adam Keller, of the peace group Gush Shalom, said the planned show of solidarity would have been nonviolent. He denounced the police for exploiting the stereotype of violent Arab citizens promoted by the marchers, many of whom are hardline settlers in the West Bank.

"It is a supreme irony that we had organized for thousands of Arabs and Jews to prove we can live here as citizens in harmony," he said. "Then the police cancel the march but use the false pretext that the marchers are in danger rather than that they seek to inflame violence."

Claims by the police that Arab residents would shoot at the marchers were derided by Jewish and Arab organizations.

Jafar Farah, of the Mossawa parliamentary lobbying group, pointed out that the northern police force had used a similar excuse – that Arab demonstrators were armed – in Oct 2000, at the start of the intifada, to justify its use of live ammunition against protests in Arab communities.

A later state inquiry examining the deaths of 13 Arab demonstrators at the hands of the police found that they were unarmed. The inquiry concluded that the institutional view of the police was that Israel's 1.2 million-strong Arab population should be treated as "an enemy" rather than as citizens.

"The lessons from that inquiry have still not been learnt," Mr Farah said. "There is still a culture of hatred in the police force as well as a culture of incitement. In their different way, the police want to delegitimize the country's Arab minority just as much as the marchers."

The Jewish National Front is widely seen as a reinvention of the Kach movement, a Jewish terror organization demanding the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the West Bank. The movement was outlawed in the 1990s.

Kach tried to stage a march to Umm al Fahm in 1984 but was repulsed when Jews and Arabs turned out on a large scale.

The police opposed the new march from the outset, saying it believed that confrontations between the marchers and local residents might provoke riots across the north, especially in the wake of violence between Jews and Arabs in Acre in October.

The Supreme Court overruled the police, agreeing with the Front that their right to free expression was being curtailed.

Mr Keller said he believed the police had opposed the march because of the exorbitant cost of bringing thousands of police officers to the town.

"They needed an excuse to prevent the march but one that would be acceptable to the Jewish public and which would not look like they were ignoring the court's ruling. They resorted to the easiest – and most dangerous – pretext available: that Umm al Fahm is a hotbed of terror."

Itamar Ben Gvir, a Front leader and settler involved in the recent clashes with the Israeli army over the evacuation of a settler-occupied Palestinian house in Hebron, called the police decision "a disgrace to the rule of law." He added: "Today the police have proved once and for all that they do not control Umm al Fahm."

Shuli Dichter, the head of the Sikkuy coexistence group and a resident of a kibbutz near Umm al Fahm, called that suggestion "nonsense."

"At the weekend we organized tours for hundreds of Jews to Umm al Fahm. They shopped and visited attractions without any trouble whatsoever. We proved that Jews are welcome in Umm al Fahm and that the violence comes only from the far-right."

Raja Aghbariyya, the head of Islamic Youth Movement in Umm al Fahm, expressed a view widely shared in the town: "We welcome anyone who comes to visit the city, but not according to the relationship of slave and master."

Mr Dichter said the police decision had disappointed him. "I would have preferred to see this march stopped by the opposition of an aware public rather than by the police."

He said the large turnout of Jewish groups had been possible because of a framework of cooperation between Jews and Arabs created in the wake of the 13 deaths in Oct 2000.

That included a forum jointly headed by the Arab mayor of Umm al Fahm, Sheikh Hashem Abd al Rahman, and the Jewish mayor of the Menashe Regional Council, Ilan Sadeh. Mr Sadeh, who had assisted in plans to oppose the Front, described the march as an attempt "to sow chaos in the area."

This article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

 

comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Turkey's Fallout With Israel Deals Blow to Settlers 
    3/26/2009

  • Bedouin Baby's Power Struggle With Israel
    3/19/2009

  • Israel's Military Mephistopheles
    2/27/2009

  • Is Israel's Army Waging a Jewish Jihad?
    2/5/2009

  • Israel Intensified Assault in Final Days
    1/21/2009

  • Israeli Assault Injures 1.5 Million Gazans
    1/17/2009

  • Israeli Arab Parties React to Election Ban
    1/15/2009

  • Blueprint for Gaza Attack Was Long Planned
    1/13/2009

  • Criticism of Israeli War Crimes Mounts
    1/10/2009

  • Israel's Aim: To Make the Gazan Prison Even More Secure
    1/8/2009

  • The Real Goal of the Slaughter in Gaza
    1/2/2009

  • Electioneering With Bombs
    12/31/2008

  • Arab Town Blamed for Jewish Pride March's Cancelation
    12/20/2008

  • Hebron Settlers Take Their Fight Into Israel
    12/6/2008

  • Campaign for 'Forgotten Refugees' Downplays Palestinian Losses
    12/3/2008

  • Who Will Stop the Settlers?
    11/20/2008

  • The Real Goal of Israel's Blockade
    11/18/2008

  • Israel Tightens Chokehold on Village of Entrepreneurs
    11/15/2008

  • Travesty of Tolerance on Display in Jerusalem
    11/6/2008

  • Palestinian Kristallnacht
    10/31/2008

  • Israel Bars Visit to Father's Grave
    10/30/2008

  • Israel's 'City of Coexistence' Shows Its True Colors
    10/17/2008

  • Israeli Bestseller Breaks National Taboo
    10/9/2008

  • Israel's Army and Settlers Fall Out
    10/4/2008

  • Israel's Breeding Ground for Terrorism
    10/1/2008

  • King David Recruited to Expel Palestinians
    9/27/2008

  • Jaffa's 'Renewal' Aims at Expulsion of Palestinians
    9/16/2008

  • Israel's Dark Art of Ensnaring Palestinian Collaborators
    9/13/2008

  • Palestinian Village Faces Army Reign of Terror
    9/3/2008

  • Israel's Outposts Seal Death of Palestinian State
    8/26/2008

  • The Struggle Against Jerusalem's Quiet Ethnic Cleansing
    8/2/2008

  • The Smallest Settlement
    7/28/2008

  • Zionism's Dead End
    6/28/2008

  • On Independence Day, Israeli Arabs Reminded of Their Place
    5/17/2008

  • Two-State Dreamers
    3/13/2008

  • Israel Plots Another Palestinian Exodus
    3/10/2008

  • Academic Freedom? Not for Arabs in Israel
    3/1/2008

  • Evidence of Israeli 'Cowardly Blending' Comes to Light
    1/5/2008

  • Why Did Israel Attack Syria?
    9/28/2007

  • In 2006 Lebanon War, Most Crimes Were Israeli
    8/17/2007

  • Israel's Jewish Problem in Tehran
    8/4/2007

  • Divide and Rule, Israeli-Style
    6/27/2007

  • Olmert Reveals the Real Goal of War in Lebanon
    3/14/2007

  • Apartheid Looks Like This
    2/24/2007

  • Israel's Dark Future
    1/20/2007

  • Israel's Purging of Palestinian Christians
    1/10/2007

  • End of the Strongmen
    12/20/2006

  • The Trap of Recognizing Israel
    12/16/2006

  • Syria: Convenient but Unlikely Fall Guy for Gemayel's Death
    11/24/2006

  • Hollow Visions of Palestine's Future
    11/18/2006

  • The Struggle for Palestine's Soul
    10/7/2006

  • Bad Faith and the Destruction of Palestine
    9/30/2006

  • The 'New Anti-Semitism' and Nuclear War
    9/25/2006

  • How Human Rights Watch Lost Its Way in Lebanon
    9/8/2006

  • Israel's Deceptions
    a Way of Life
    9/1/2006

  • After Lebanon, Israel Looks for More War
    8/21/2006

  • Lebanese Deaths, and Israeli War Crimes, Kept Off the Balance Sheet
    8/17/2006

  • Suddenly, I'm an 'Islamic Fascist'
    8/12/2006

  • Hypocrisy About Hezbollah
    8/10/2006

  • The End of Illusions
    8/8/2006

  • Winning the Propaganda War
    8/4/2006

  • Why Do They Hate Us?
    Listen to Qana (Again)
    8/1/2006

  • The Lies Israel Tells Itself (and We Tell on Its Behalf)
    7/29/2006

  • Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes
    7/26/2006

  • Israel's Disproportionate Violence No Surprise
    7/22/2006
  • Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His most recent book, Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran, and the Plan to Remake the Middle East, is published by Pluto Press. Visit his Web site.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com