While Israel continues to bombard the Gaza Strip from land, sea and air – despite civilian casualties of over 1,000, two-thirds of the them children according to UN figures – further violence is being meted out within Israel by vigilante mobs hunting down Palestinians and Arab Israelis.
As Rania Halek writes for Electronic Intifada:
But back in Jerusalem, where sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair was burned alive by Jewish vigilantes in a “revenge killing” incited by Israeli politicians early this month, right-wing lynch mobs continue to roam the streets in search of Arabs to attack.
Their most recent victims are twenty-year-old Palestinians Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz from the Beit Hannina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. The pair were severely beaten into unconsciousness on Friday night by Israeli youths armed with iron bars and baseball bats.
Mahfouz told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he and Shwiki were on their way to the light rail when they were stopped by “a man [coming] from the direction of Neve Yaakov,” an illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
“He said give me a cigarette. I told him I don’t have any, and he heard [from my accent] I’m Arab and went away, coming back with his friends, maybe twelve people. They had sticks and iron bars and they hit us over the head,” Mahfouz recounted.
This is the condition they were left in…
This is not a one-off incident, but a growing sport in Israel called: Price-tagging. An orgy of violence against people of Arab or African ethnic origin.
Tel Aviv held its very own version of Kristallnacht in May 2012, after an anti-immigration rally, where mainstream politicians such as Miri Regev, a member of the ruling Likud party told the crowds that asylum seekers are a “cancer in our body,” and promised to do everything “in order to bring them back to where they belong”. This racist crowd, sufficiently whipped up by the politicians then proceeded to go on a rampage of racially motivated violence. Dozens of African immigrants were injured. Witnesses reported seeing men and women being beaten in the streets, whilst properties and shops were also attacked.
In August of the same year, dozens of Jewish teens set upon two Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Zion Square in broad daylight, surrounded by witnesses – beating them past the point of unconsciousness and attempting to lynch them. Bystanders looked on apathetically.
Last year, a group of young Jewish women attacked Palestinian woman Hana Amtir at a light rail station, pulling off her hijab and punching her in the face. It was sheer luck that artist Dorit Jordan Dotan happened to be nearby to bear witness and photograph the assault as it happened. She told police officers she and a male friend were waiting for a train at the Kiryat Moshe station when, without provocation, a young Jewish woman began attacking an Arab woman who was also at the station. The perpetrator, said Jordan Dotan, was soon joined by other young women. She said several passengers and bystanders – including a security officer working for the city – looked on apathetically and did not intervene.
During the religious festival of Purim, on February 24th a group of some 20 Jewish Israeli teens between 15 and 17 mobbed and beat Palestinian cleaner Hassan Ausruf in Tel Aviv whilst shouting racist slogans at him.
These are mere highlights of an epidemic of violence, conducted largely by Israeli’s under the age of 30, and co-ordinated via social media. Young Israelis are using Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook to produce a toxic combination of sex and violence.
A Facebook page has been set up this week called “Standing With the IDF”, where women are encouraged to post revealing images of themselves covered in pro-IDF graffiti.
A Facebook page titled “The People of Israel Demand Vengeance!” set up in the wake of the murder of three Israeli teens is the same bizarre mix of sex and incitement. Teens post sun-drenched selfies, no different to so many others filling instagram…except for the fact they are holding placards calling for ‘Death to All Arabs’, or the one below, which reads: Hating Arabs is Not Racism, It’s Moral Values’.
And on the same page, this reaction to the kidnap and murder of teenage Palestinian Mohammed Khadir, in a so-called ‘revenge’ attack that saw the boy forced to drink petrol and burned alive.
How did Israel sink to such depths? One observer lays it plain:
All the seeds of the incitement of the past few years, all the nationalistic, racist legislation and the incendiary propaganda, the scare campaigns and the subversion of democracy by the right-wing camp – all these have borne fruit, and that fruit is rank and rotten. The nationalist right has now sunk to a new level, with almost the whole country following in its wake. The word “fascism,” which I try to use as little as possible, finally has its deserved place in the Israeli political discourse.
This observer is Israeli. This observer is Gideon Levy, writer and editorial board member of Haaretz newspaper, whose Grandparents fled to Israel in the 30’s as Nazi Germany annexed Czechoslovakia. A man who dare not use the word fascism lightly, uses it now – despite receiving threats of death and violence from his fellow citizens for so doing.
Gideon is joined by those 56 Israeli reservists who refused call up as a protest against the assault on Gaza, by the five thousand that attended the anti-war protest this week in Tel Aviv, by the likes of former IDF pilot Yonatan Shapiro who continue to speak out against Israel’s illegal occupation and war crimes.
But with 86% of Israelis opposing a ceasefire that would bring the massacre in Gaza to an end, it is only this brave minority of Israelis who stand apart from the fascist crowd. Crowds like those below, which cheer the slaughter of innocents, whilst draped in their national flag.