Forward to Nuremburg: Israel’s Quest for Racial Purity Dominates the Refugee Question

Forward to Nuremburg: Israel’s Quest for Racial Purity Dominates the Refugee Question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Israel: A State where ‘Death to the Arabs’ Mavet la’aravim is
the National Slogan

Despite all the racist stereotypes, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010 compared with 4.99% among Israelis. Photograph: AP 

When Miri Regev a Likud MK stated that ‘”the
Sudanese are a cancer in our body
.” she sparked off a pogrom against
refugees in South Tel Aviv.  Later she
apologised to cancer victims, for having compared them to refugees!  She also apologised
for comparing the refugees to human beings.

Today Miri Regev is Israel’s Culture Minister!
Fence erected between Egypt and Israel to keep out refugees
The attitude of Regev is no different from that of
her government.  Refugees are called
‘infiltrators’ not refugees in order to compare them with Palestinians who
tried to return to Israel after being expelled in 1948.  Not one Syrian has been given refugee status
despite the country being Israel’s neighbour. 
As Professor Gideon Kunda explained:
 “Infiltrator”
is a very loaded word, and it was not chosen by accident. It’s part of our
collective memory, going back to the early period of the state, to Ma’aleh
Akrabim [a 1954 attack on a bus in the Negev in which 11 Israelis were shot
dead by cross-border marauders] and to Palestinians who tried to return to
their land.  ‘It’s No Accident
That African Refugees Are Called Infiltrators’
 
Large numbers of African refugees, mainly from
Eritrea and Sudan, began arriving in Israel in the second half of the 2000s and
accelerated from between 2010-2012.  
There were an estimated 60,000 refugees at one time though the numbers
today are thought to be no more than 46,000. 
Large numbers have been ‘persuaded’ via a bribe of some $3,000 to ‘self-deport’
and via long periods of detention at Holot. 
As The Times of Israel reports
‘Israel has recognized fewer than 1% as asylum claims, and since 2009,
less than 0.15% — the lowest rate in the Western world.’   Although most refugees from Eritrea and Sudan
are recognised internationally as refugees, in Israel virtually none are given
refugee status.
In every country in Europe there is anti-refugee
feeling.  But in Israel it is qualitatively
different as opposition to refugees isn’t about competition for jobs, social or
other economic issues.  It’s about race
and ethnicity.  Israel is a Jewish state
and the refugees aren’t Jewish.  They
dilute the Jewishness of the Jewish State. 
As Netanyahu remarked:[Israel
PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state
, Guardian,
May 20 2021]
“If we don’t
stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to
600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state…
This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our
national security and our national identity.”
This is an objection on explicitly racist grounds.  Israel is prepared to take any Jewish
immigrant from any country.  Sometimes,
as with the Iraq Jews in the 1950’s and the Soviet Jews in the 1970’s/1980’s it
is prepared to force them to come, even against their own wishes, but in the case
of non-Jewish African refugees they are a threat to ‘national identity’, that
is Jewish national identity because Israel’s Arab population are themselves
barely tolerated guests.  And of course
they are a threat to ‘national security’ because a threat to ‘national identity’
is an existential threat and therefore a security threat.

Israeli Labour Party
The Israeli Labour Party has been no better than
Netanyahu and Likud.  Indeed they have
tried to outflank them from the Right. 
As David Sheen wrote,
in May 2012, their leader, Isaac Herzog wrote an opinion piece, challenging
arguments by human rights groups that Eritreans in Israel deserved protection
as refugees.  In
March 2015, Herzog repeated
this refrain
on the eve of the Israeli national elections, saying, “We need to negotiate with Eritrea on the return of the Eritreans back
to Eritrea.”
   We should bear this in
mind when the Jewish Labour Movement boasts
that the Israeli Labour Party is its ‘sister party’ in Israel. 

Refugee Killed Because He Approached Jewish Girls as Arabs hunted down in Jerusalem by Lehava’s Jewish neo-Nazis 


Below is the horrific case of a refugee who,
after being thrown into Israel’s Holot detention camp in the Negev desert for a
year, was eventually released, making his way to Petah Tikvah.  One evening he made an approach to 3 Israeli
Jewish women which they rejected.  He
wasn’t violent or threatening but the idea of a non-Jewish African man
approaching Jewish women was enough for his attackers who took nearly an hour
to beat him to death.  Not only did no
one intervene to put a stop to this but those who were around sympathised with
the attackers.
It was not until an article in Ha’aretz nearly two
weeks later that they got around to arresting two Jewish youths.  It is unlikely that they will face a murder
charge because their offence was ‘spontaneous’.  Of course if it had been the opposite way
around then it would have been called ‘terrorism’, police raids would have
ensued, loud headlines and no doubt Tom Watson MP would pontificate about
terror in Israeli streets.    See The Legal Attacks by Government
on Refugees
The article on Lehava by Jonathan Cook, a journalist
based in Nazareth, is equally horrific.  
Lehava, an openly fascist organisation whose leaders derive from the
Jewish Nazi Kach party, which was banned in Israel in the 1980’s openly
organise groups of young thugs to attack any Arab in a ‘Jewish’ area.
Protestors outside Eritrea’s Embassy in Tel Aviv  holding posters showing Eritrean refugees, who were forced by Israel to leave, being executed by ISIS in Libya
Lehava’s purpose is to ‘dissuade’ Arabs from having
any social or sexual relations with Jewish women.  This stuff is out of Nuremburg but it is also
at one with the idea of a Jewish state. 
Lehava isn’t just a fringe fascist group like Britain First.  It is based in the settlements, it has
hundreds of young supporters but more than that, it has political support in the
government.
It was Tzipi Hotoveli, the Deputy Foreign Minister
of Israel who invited Lehava into the Knesset to explain how to prevent the
appalling vista of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.  As the Guardian noted
In her capacity as chairwoman of the Status of
Women Committee in the Knesset in 2011, she invited the racist group Lehava to
explain how they prevent romantic contacts between Jews and Arabs. Responding
to criticism, Hotovely said it was “important
to examine procedures for preventing mixed marriages, and Lehava members are
the right people for that”
The Hemla hostel in Jerusalem, a safe house for ‘troubled’ Haredi girls.
One of the consequences of this invitation to the
Knesset was that the ‘charitable’ wing of Lehava, Hemla (Mercy) has received government funding totalling about
half of its income.  As Ha’aretz
observed: [A
Strange Kind of Mercy
]:  ‘The right-wing organization Lehava is noted
for its vehement anti-assimilation views, and many of its members are disciples
of Meir Kahane. Yet Hemla (Mercy), a group closely linked to Lehava, receives
state funding for its rehabilitation work with Jewish women.’
  And who are these women who need
rehabilitating?  Jewish women who have
had affairs with Arab men. 
Although not spoken of, there is an unwritten
consensus
across the Zionist spectrum that relationships between Arab males
and Jewish women (miscegenation an ugly word used in the Deep South of America)
should be prevented.  An obsession with
inter-racial sexual relations has been a characteristic of all movements for
national purity – whether it is the KKK, the Nazis, Apartheid South Africa or Zionism.  Israel unlike South Africa does not enact Immorality
Laws, it relies on moral and social pressures to prevent such liaisons. 
An opinion poll on YNet found that
over half the Jewish population believed that marriage to an Arab was ‘national treason’.  Many religions historically, whether Jewish or
Catholic, have frowned upon inter-marriage. 
This is religious chauvinism not racism but when that becomes the policy
of a state then that is racism.  It becomes
a quest for racial purity. 
Dorit Rabinyan – author of Borderlife – banned for endangering Israeli ‘national identity’
When
Israeli author Dorit
Rabinyan wrote ‘Borderlife’ about the relationship between a relationship
between a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman, it was banned from Israel’s high
school syllabus.  As Education Ministry
official Dalia Fenig explained:
“Adolescent
youth tend to romanticise and don’t have, in many cases, the systematic point
of view that includes considerations about preserving the identity of the
nation and the significance of assimilation,”

Imagine a book in Britain depicting a
relationship between Black and White people being banned because youth were impressionable
and wouldn’t understand ‘considerations
about preserving the identity of the nation’
there would be uproar.  It is only the National Front and fringe fascists
who believe that ‘the nation’ doesn’t include Black people.  Yet in Israel it is a majority Jewish and
Zionist viewpoint that ‘the nation’ does not include Palestinians, because
Israel is the state of the Jewish nation, not the Palestinian or Arab nation.
Israeli fascist groups like Lehava march to the drumbeat
of ‘Death to the Arabs’ and the equally lovely ‘A Jew has
a soul, an Arab is a son of a whore’

Lehava, which organises gangs of thugs to attack Arabs
in the street and who hand out ‘kosher’ certificates to employers who refuse to
employ Arabs, feed into an already existing national consensus.   It is a consensus whereby 90% of Israel’s Jewish
population don’t even recognise the concept of a non-Jewish African refugee.  A consensus whereby nearly 80% of Jews take it
for granted that Jews in a Jewish state are entitled to preferential treatment
over Arabs.  Israel’s
Religiously Divided Society
This is why the Israeli state is reluctant to ban
Lehava as a terrorist organisation whereas it has no compunction in banning the
Northern Islamic Movement, which was a political and welfare association  that had massive support amongst Israeli Palestinians
and which had led the political/religious struggle against Zionist attempts to
take over the Temple Mount and the area of the Golden Dome in Jerusalem.
Dareen Tatour – gaoled Palestinian poet
It is the same reason that Israel gaoled
Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour who posted a poem to social media [Dareen
Tatour, Palestinian poet imprisoned by Israel for social media posts, shares
her story
].   According
to +972 Magazine
The main clause of
the indictment was based on a poem that she (or somebody else using her name)
posted on Youtube under the title: “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” (Resist my people, resist them).’
  Whereas Jewish racists who post death threats
and worse on social media are never troubled by the Israeli police, a Palestinian
poet who calls for resistance is dragged from her home, at 3.30 in the morning,
by a large group of policemen who have no warrant and is then held for 6 months
in prison and 6 months under house arrest far from her home.  The much vaunted ‘independent’ Israeli court
system is complicit in all of this, before an international campaign fronted by
Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and others forces Dareen’s gaolers back off and allow
her to transfer to house arrest in her home town. 
December
5, 2016 By Richard
Silverstein
 

Bibikir Adham-Abdo, murdered in Petah Tikvah in brutal hate crime
Bibikir
Adham-Abdo fled his native Darfur  nine years ago during the civil war.
 During one especially savage battle, he lost several fingers.
 Eventually, he made his way across the Sinai desert to Israel, where he
found work in the resort hotels of Eilat.  Because he is a refugee with no
legal status (which Israel refuses to offer), he was picked up by the Border
Police and thrown into the Holot detention camp in the Negev desert.  He
was released, but told he could not go back to Eilat or move to Tel Aviv.
 That left other smaller cities, where he might find pockets of other
refugees with whom he might some sense of community.  So he went to Petah
Tikvah, a central Israel town near Tel Aviv.
19 year-old, Dennis Barshivetz, suspect in the murder of a Darfur refugee
Two weeks
ago, Bibikir, age 40, joined his roommate for an evening of drinking and
socializing downtown, where other young people and foreign workers congregate.
 According
to Ynet
 (Hebrew), three Israeli girls were sitting and chatting when
Bibikir approached them.  They fled (he was inebriated according to the
Haaretz account) from him screaming that he should get away from them. 
Suddenly, an Israeli Jewish youth appeared, approached
Bibikir and yelled at him.  The victim then raised his hands in
resignation and turned away.  With his back turned, the attacker
kicked him
and threw a bottle of beer at him.  He kicked him more till
he fell on the ground.  The kicking continued. He beat him all over
his upper body including his back and head as the victim lay defenseless on the
sidewalk.
As the
victim tried to get up, Barshevitz arrived on the scene and gave him such
furious kicks that Bibikir fell back on the pavement and struck his head.
 After the victim’s body began making frightening rumbling sounds showing
physical distress, they fled.
Security
cameras show them beating him mercilessly for almost an entire hour.
 Whenever the victim attempted to raise his head, they beat him more.
 Clearly, no one came to his aid.
At 2AM,
emergency services found him mortally wounded and brought him to the hospital.
 There he lingered for eight days before succumbing to his wounds.
 Though the crime happened two weeks ago, until Haaretz published a story
about it no one had even been arrested.  Curiously, two days later the two
suspects were arrested.  One is 19 years old and the other a minor, age
16.
The State
prosecutor is already damping down expectations of a murder conviction, arguing
that the cold-blooded murder was actually a “spontaneous” act.  Since the
coroner could not attribute with specificity which blow killed Bibikir, each
suspect is blaming the other for the fatal one. 
Haaretz quotes a Jewish resident of Petah Tikvah justifying the
violence: “Look at the streets here.  It’s like Harlem!  A fifth
column.”
Comments
on Facebook have been even more disgusting and virulent:
No matter how racist or threatening, Jewish racism on Facebook never faces any legal sanctions – they are reserved exclusively for Palestinians
David
Elimelech: “Now’s the time to exterminate all the refugees. They’re the ooze
from the garbage.

Nechama
NB: “…If they want Jewish girls they should die.  Or send them back to
their jungle!  The Sudanese infiltrator is no refugee.”

Sara
Malul: “One less, wonderful.  This is the way to send them packing back to
from where they came.  Most are terrorists.  Sudanese are even worse
than Arabs.”

Oved
Sason: “[They’re] garbage created by Satan, these infiltrators.”

Add to this the incitement from Bibi Netanyahu and
other Israeli leaders during last week’s raging forest fires, when they accused
Palestinians of acts of arson.  Israel
Arrests 22 Over Wildfires, as Arson Is Suspected
.  Netanyahu was quoted as saying that “a
considerable number” of the fires were set and described them as “terror,” a
term usually given to militant attacks by Palestinians.  “There
is a price to crime, and there is a price for terror and incitement, and we
will exact it,”
  Unfortunately in Israel
there is no price to pay for racial incitement, especially when it comes from
the Prime Minister. 
Though 30
people were arrested for arson, only one has been indicted. That person had no
terrorist motive at all.  Most of the others have been released.
 This is the state of current affairs in Israel.  A nation seething
with hate, ready at a moment’s notice to blame the weak and vulnerable for the
most savage crimes.  When in reality, it is Israeli hate which leads to
the most savage crimes against the victims.

Jonathan
Cook 4 December 2016

The
far-right group stokes hatred and incites followers to violence against
Palestinians, say analysts

Four
youths in black T-shirts, bearing a distinctive yellow-flame insignia, approached
“A” in July as he got out of a taxi in central Jerusalem to meet friends. They
asked him the time. Suspicious of his accent, they confronted him directly:
“Are you an Arab?”
The
moment I said, ‘yes,’ one of them punched me in the eye. The others jumped on
me and started hitting me all over my body. There were many people in the area,
but no one took any notice or tried to help.”

“A”
managed to break free and fled to a nearby restaurant, where a friend worked,
and hid inside. “If I hadn’t been able to run away, they would have killed me,
he said.
His filmed
testimony
is one of several taken of Palestinians in Jerusalem who have
been violently assaulted recently by far-right Jewish activists. Fearing
reprisals, most of the victims agreed to testify only on condition that their
real identities were not disclosed.
The
attacks were carried out by an extremist group called Lehava, or Flame in
Hebrew, an acronym for the Organisation for the Prevention of Miscegenation in
the Holy Land. Run by a rabbi, Ben-Zion Gopstein, Lehava rejects any
interaction between Jews and Palestinians.
Opposed to intermarriage

Founded
in 2009, Lehava is distinguished from other far-right groups by its official
focus on stopping miscegenation and intermarriage between Jews and
Palestinians. In addition to the 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, some 1.7
million of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian by origin, making them nearly a
fifth of the population.
In 2014,
some 200 Lehava supporters –protested outside the wedding of a Palestinian man and a
female Jewish convert to Islam in the city of Jaffa, near Tel Aviv. Some
carried placards with the slogan: “Miscegenation is a Holocaust”.
Jerusalem’s
streets, meanwhile, are littered with fliers and stickers in Arabic warning, “Don’t even think about a Jewish girl”
and in Hebrew stating, “Beware the goys
[a derogatory term for non-Jews] – they will defile you”.

Lehava’s
hardcore supporters number in the hundreds, according to the Religious Action
Centre, the advocacy arm of the Reform Judaism movement, which filmed the
testimonies. But it believes Gopstein can draw on the open support of thousands
more.
David
Sheen, an Israeli journalist who has reported on far-right groups for many
years, told Al Jazeera: “Lehava’s aim is
to rile up Jewish youth on the streets, to create a strike force that can help
ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the main areas of Jerusalem.”

‘Rescuing’ Jewish women

Aviv
Tartasky, a field researcher with Ir Amim, an Israeli group advocating fair
treatment for Palestinians in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera: “The idea of rescuing Jewish women from Arabs – bringing them back to
Judaism – has wide support from Israelis, including from the left. The attitude
among most Israeli Jews is that, even if we don’t support your methods, your
violence, we approve of your goals.”

Gopstein,
in a speech last year called
for “action” to stop coexistence, calling it a “dangerous cancer”. Lehava leaders were all formerly active in Kach,
an anti-Arab group that was outlawed in 1994 after one of its followers, Baruch
Goldstein, murdered 29 Palestinians at worship in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque.
Rabbi Meir Kahane – the Judeo-Nazi who inspired Lehava’s founders
Last
month, Gopstein attended
a memorial event in Jerusalem for Kach’s founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane. At the
rally, he waved a cleaning rag with the face of Lucy Aharish, the only
prominent TV presenter from Israel’s Palestinian minority, saying he would wash
the floor with her. He added: “She
compared me to Hamas. So we’ll make her nightmare come true
.”
Gopstein,
who lives in Kiryat Arba, an Israeli settlement next to the Palestinian city of
Hebron in the West Bank, was a student of Kahane. He was arrested in 1990 on
suspicion of murdering a Palestinian couple, in what appeared to be retaliation
for Kahane’s assassination, but was later released.
Before
its banning, Kach openly supported the violent expulsion of Palestinians from
the region under the slogan: “Arabs to
the Arab states and Jews to Zion
”. Like Lehava, one of its main activities
was preventing mixing between Jews and Palestinians.
New version of Kach

Sheen
said Lehava had created “an instantly
recognisable brand that is all about racial purity. This is just a new version
of Kach. They can’t use the same slogans without breaking the law, but the
similarities are unmistakable.
” He noted that both organisations used the
same colours of black and yellow in their emblems – Kach’s was a fist, while
Lehava uses a flame.
When Kach existed in the 1980s, it was seen
as so racist that it was likened to the Nazis and boycotted by other parties in
the parliament. It was seen as beyond the pale,”
said Sheen. “Now it’s in the mainstream. It even has
supporters in the Likud party [of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] who are
happy to whitewash it.”

Blind eye from police 

As
Lehava’s supporters have grown in numbers and confidence, large parts of
Jerusalem’s city centre have rapidly become a no-go area for Palestinians after
dark. The victims, as well as human rights groups and religious leaders, have
complained that the Israeli police are turning a blind eye to the wave of
intimidation and violence.
There are racist lynch mobs roaming the
streets of Jerusalem, driven by a hatred of Arabs, and the police are showing
no interest in investigating,”

Steven Beck, a spokesman for the Israel
Religious Action Centre, told Al Jazeera. The centre, which promotes equality
and social justice in Israel, video recorded the testimonies of Lehava’s
victims as part of a campaign called “Lehava
is Burning Jerusalem
”. It warns: “Jewish
terror is not created out of thin air. It is fueled by ideological incitement
and hatred that is spread by extremist rabbis.”
“H”, who
was assaulted twice this year, filed a complaint with the police after he was
knifed in the back and shoulder by a Lehava gang. “Until now, no action has been taken,” he said. “The police are with them, covering for
them.”

Another
victim, Jamal Julani was left in a coma by a Lehava group in 2012, when he was 17.
Investigators told him none of the security cameras were working in the area of
the assault, even though it took place close to two banks. “How that’s possible? I don’t understand,” he said. “There are maybe 10
cameras there. How did none of them work?”

Like
others, “H” said he had been left emotionally, as well as physically, scarred.
Fearful of further attacks, he said: “Now, I’m scared to go out alone. Even if I
try to fight back, everyone will shout, ‘Terrorist, terrorist’. If a policeman
is passing by and sees the incident … I’ll be the one who gets shot.”

Calls for ban grow

The
300,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after 1967 in
violation of international law, have residency permits that entitle them to
live and work in Israel. Many travel into Jerusalem’s city centre for the
nightlife and shopping not available in their own deprived neighbourhoods, or
to work in Jewish-owned restaurants and shops.
This is
when many of the attacks occur, with Lehava claiming that the Palestinian men
use the visits to consort with Jewish women.
Calls for
proscribing Lehava have grown since three followers were found
guilty
last year of an arson attack on Jerusalem’s only binational school,
for Jewish and Palestinian children. Walls were daubed with racist slogans,
such as “End miscegenation” and “No coexistence with cancer”.
Early
last year, Moshe Yaalon, then defence minister, was reported to be considering
outlawing Lehava. By August, however, the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic
intelligence service, said it had no evidence on which to recommend banning the
group. The current defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, of the far-right
Yisrael Beiteinu party, is considered unlikely to try to curb Lehava’s
activities.
Meanwhile,
Lehava has called for boycotts of city businesses that hire Palestinian
workers. Critics say the group also intimidates landlords who rent to
Palestinian families. Dan Biron, owner of the Birman restaurant in central
Jerusalem, said Palestinians among his staff had been attacked on four separate
occasions.
One time,
he said, a mob came to his restaurant demanding that he hand over Palestinian
workers. “Send them out so we can kill
them,”
he recalled. He stood his ground until they left. “There is anarchy in Jerusalem. The police do
not enforce the law here,”
he said. “There
are serious criminals who wander around freely, criminals who beat up people,
and the police do nothing.”

Christians attacked

The
city’s Christians have found themselves increasingly targeted, too.
Last
December, Gopstein called Christians “blood-sucking
vampires
” and demanded they be expelled from Israel. A few months earlier
he told a meeting he supported torching churches to prevent “idol worship”. Church leaders suspect
Lehava supporters are behind a recent wave of vandalism against Christian sites
in Jerusalem and intimidation of priests and nuns.
Dozens of
Lehava youths, led by Gopstein, rioted in September at a performance by a Palestinian
Armenian choir at a music festival in a Jerusalem shopping mall. The singers
were forced to leave after the youths shouted “Jew murderers!” and “Go to
Syria
!”.
The
Vatican filed a complaint last year on behalf of local bishops to
Israel’s attorney general, demanding that Gopstein be indicted for incitement
to violence.
Wadie Abu
Nassar, spokesman for the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, told how the Israeli
authorities had not responded. “Gopstein
is continuously saying racist and inciteful things in public, so one has to
wonder why no measures have been taken against him. He seems immune.” 
He added: “There is a clear backing among members of this government for far-right
groups like Lehava.”

Government funding

Lehava
has in the past received significant funding from the Israeli government – as much
as $180,000 annually through a sister charity, Hemla. The latter runs a hostel
in Jerusalem for the “rehabilitation” of Jewish women “saved” from marriages to Palestinians.
The
Israeli media revealed last month that funding to Hemla has nearly doubled this
year, to $350,000. Gopstein formally severed Lehava’s connections to Hemla two
years ago. However, the registrar of non-governmental organisations is reported
to have warned that secret ties between the two may have continued and has
recommended an investigation.
There
have also been suspicions of close ties between Israeli police and Lehava. They
were fuelled in February when it emerged, following an investigation of Gopstein’s
activities, that a Border Police officer had supplied the group with details of
Jewish women dating Palestinian men.
Tartasky,
of Ir Amim, told how: “The dominant
culture in the police regards the Palestinians as not proper residents of the
city. The police see their role as defending Jews from Palestinians, not the
other way around.”

He said
Jerusalem’s politicians also contributed to an impression that Palestinians had
no place in the city. “The mayor [Nir
Barkat] has not made a single statement against Lehava, even though they are
inciting and carrying out regular attacks in the heart of his city. That has
sent a clear message that Lehava has protection.”

That
impression was underscored by statements from Barkat’s deputy, Meir Turgeman,
in September, following the arrest of a Jerusalem resident, Mesbah Abu Sabih,
on suspicion of killing two Israelis. Turgeman
said
he would “punish” the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem for their
“animal behaviour … There are no carrots left, only sticks”.

Micky
Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, denied that the police were failing to take
Lehava’s violence seriously. “There has
been a significant rise in the number of patrols in the centre of Jerusalem to
prevent such incidents
,”. He added that the police were “dispersing” gangs of Lehava youth as
soon as they were identified.
Hotline to stop mixed dating

The legal
authorities have been accused of failing to rein in Lehava, too. Beck said the
Religious Action Centre had submitted 25 complaints to the attorney general
against Gopstein for incitement but had not received a response.
In April,
a Jerusalem judge ruled that Gopstein had made an “honest mistake” in beating up two left-wing Jewish activists when
they entered a West Bank settlement. Gopstein claimed he had believed they were
Palestinians. Video footage showed Israeli police arresting the two victims rather than
Gopstein.
One of
Lehava’s public services is a hotline so that Israeli Jews can inform on family
or friends who are dating non-Jews. Beck said: “Lehava has perpetuated a lie that thousands of Jewish women are being
held against their will by Palestinians in abusive marriages. It stokes hatred
and incites followers to violence.”

In
reality, official figures show
that only a tiny number of marriages between Israeli Jews and Palestinians
occur. In 2011, the year for which official figures were released, there were
only 19 such marriages. Nonetheless, the group has quickly pushed miscegenation
on to the political agenda. Back in 2011, Gopstein was invited by Tzipi
Hotovely, now the acting foreign minister, to advise a parliamentary committee
set up to investigate the issue.
In 2013,
similar numbers said they wanted Palestinians, including those with Israeli
citizenship, expelled from the region.
Counter-protests launched

However,
some Israeli Jews in Jerusalem have started to fight back against Lehava. Since
2014, a group named “Talking in the Square” has been organising
counter-demonstrations in Zion Square, where Lehava stages a weekly rally.
One of
their activists, Ossnat Sharon, said they tried to “keep an eye on [Lehava], curbing their
attempts at violence as best we can.”
Palestinians
were venturing into the city centre in bigger numbers, he said, because their
own neighbourhoods had been cut off from nearby Ramallah and other Palestinian
cities of the West Bank by Israel’s completion of its so-called separation
barrier.

Better
public transport links after Israel opened its light rail system have also
contributed to the trend of Palestinians seeking work and entertainment in
Jerusalem’s city centre. “Lehava’s growth indicates how uncomfortable some
Israelis have become with seeing Palestinians in what they consider to be their
city,” he said. “It has given them a sense of grievance and increased their
extremism.”

 

 

 

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