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Comments in 2012 and 2011



Israeli teacher: Lynching comes from an entire culture of being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like

This posting has 6 items:
1) NY Times: a stark national conversation about how Israeli society could have come to this point;
2) +972: The holy war against Arab-Jewish relations;
3) Mondoweiss: Anatomy of Jewish racism ;
4) Ha’aretz: Hundreds watched attempt to lynch Palestinians, did not interfere;
5) The Atlantic: Is the Jerusalem Lynching Part of a Larger Terrorism Pattern?;
6) Ynet news: In wake of lynch, Arabs fear the streets;

Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs

By Isabel Kershner, NY Times
August 20, 2012

JERUSALEM — Seven Israeli teenagers were in custody on Monday, accused of what a police official and several witnesses described as an attempted lynching of several Palestinian youths, laying bare the undercurrent of tension in this ethnically mixed but politically divided city. A 15-year-old suspect standing outside court said, “For my part he can die, he’s an Arab.”

The police said that scores of Jewish youths were involved in the attack late Thursday in West Jerusalem’s Zion Square, leaving one 17-year-old unconscious and hospitalized. Hundreds of bystanders watched the mob beating, the police said — and no one intervened.

Two of the suspects were girls, the youngest 13, adding to the soul-searching and acknowledgment that the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it.

“If it was up to me, I’d have murdered him,” the 15-year-old suspect told reporters outside court on Monday. “He cursed my mother.” The young man who was beaten unconscious, Jamal Julani, remained in the hospital.

The mob beating came on the same day that a Palestinian taxi on the West Bank was firebombed, apparently by Jewish extremists, though there have been no arrests. The two episodes, along with a new report by the United States State Department labeling attacks by Jews on Palestinians as terrorism, have opened a stark national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point.

“There appears to be a worryingly high level of tolerance — whether explicit or implicit — for such despicable acts of violence,” The Jerusalem Post editorialized on Monday. “A clear distinction must be made between legitimate acts of self-defense aimed at protecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and pointless, immoral acts of violence.”

In the popular Yediot Aharonot newspaper, a commentator asked of the 13-year-old suspect, “Where on earth does a bar-mitzvah-age child find so much evil in himself?” The article said parents should be held responsible.

But on Channel 1 news Monday night, Nimrod Aloni, the head of the Institute for Educational Thought at a Tel Aviv teachers college, said, “this cannot just be an expression of something he has heard at home.”

“This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.,” Mr. Aloni said. “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

The police said Thursday’s beating of Mr. Julani, who regained consciousness in the hospital on Sunday, resulted from a brawl after a girl in a crowd of Israeli youths complained that she had been harassed by an Arab. Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said the girl had spurred the crowd to seek vengeance, though her lawyer denied that on Israel Radio on Monday. The crowd then arbitrarily focused on Mr. Julani and his friends, Mr. Rosenfeld said, beating Mr. Julani until he lost consciousness.

“According to those questioned, there was a fight, there was cursing,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “One thing led to another.”

Mr. Julani, a youth of slender build with fashionably short hair from the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, said in an interview from his hospital bed on Monday that he had no memory of what had happened — or even of being downtown on Thursday. But relatives at his bedside, including a cousin who was with him at the time of the assault, said the attack had been unprovoked.

The cousin, Muhammad Mujahid, 17, said he and four friends were walking in the square and suddenly found themselves being chased by a group of youths. “They were shouting ‘Arabs, death to Arabs,’ ” he said. “I saw about 50 people chasing us. We ran, but about 10 of them caught Jamal.”

Asked whether he would return to West Jerusalem at night, Mr. Mujahid said: “I don’t want to go back there. I’ve learned.”

Mr. Julani’s mother, Nariman, described the attackers as “terrorists, fanatics.”

“We have no ideas about politics,” said Mrs. Julani, 44. “We brought our children up to study, to be good and to love their homeland.”

One floor above Mr. Julani, in the new wing of the Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem in southwest Jerusalem, lay the driver whose taxi was hit by a firebomb on Thursday outside the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin. He and his five passengers, all members of the Abu Jayada family from the West Bank village of Nahalin, suffered burns; one remained in intensive care on Monday.

The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, strongly condemned the firebombing of the taxi and promised the Palestinian leadership that all efforts would be made to arrest the perpetrators.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, said of the beating, “We unequivocally condemn racist violence and urge the police and law enforcement community to act expeditiously to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Some commentators connected the violence against Palestinians with other racial issues pervading Israeli society. The latest attacks came after a summer of simmering resentment and some violent protests against the swelling number of African migrants and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. The outburst of popular rage, fanned by provocative statements by some rightist politicians, led to a government crackdown to stem the influx.

Gavriel Salomon, a professor of educational psychology at Haifa University, told Israel Radio on Monday that the attacks could be attributed to increasing racism in Israeli society, increased levels of violence in general and an atmosphere of “legitimacy.”

“Suddenly it’s not so terrible to burn Arabs inside a taxi,” he said.

One of those who came to the hospital where Mr. Julani was recovering on Monday was Zohar Eitan, 57, a Tel Aviv University lecturer in musicology. He said he had come as “an ordinary citizen” to show solidarity and called the attack “very sad but unfortunately not shocking. It is the result of the indoctrination that these kids get.”

Jerusalem is home to about 500,000 Jews and some 300,000 Palestinians, who mostly coexist peacefully though with a constant undertone of political and religious tension.

Most of the Palestinians, who chose not to be Israeli citizens but carry Jerusalem residency cards, live in the eastern sector of the city that was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move that has not been internationally recognized. The Palestinians demand that East Jerusalem, which contains Jewish holy sites as well as Muslim and Christian shrines, be the capital of a future state.

While the Jewish and Arab residents of the city mingle freely in the parks and shopping malls of West Jerusalem, there is less and less meaningful interaction between the two populations, other than some at workplaces.

The western side bears small monuments to the suicide bombings that killed scores here on buses and in cafes after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. In some of the tenser predominantly Arab neighborhoods, Israeli cars and buses are frequently stoned.

Mr. Julani’s relatives said they were not involved in politics and, when asked about the future of their city, seemed at a loss for answers. His father, Subhi Julani, who works in construction, said he had many Jewish friends, including employers.

“Jamal is lucky; we are lucky that he is still among us,” Mr. Julani, 50, said of his son, who is studying for his matriculation exams and also does home renovations for a Jewish boss. “I do not know why they did this.”

The holy war against Arab-Jewish relations and the Jerusalem lynch

Those who attacked Palestinians in central Jerusalem claimed they wanted to prevent them from speaking to Jewish girls. The fear of interracial relations once found only in the fringes of the right are now turning into a legitimate, mainstream political issue in national-religious circles.

By Noam Sheizaf, +972
August 21, 2012

Jerusalem Police are still carrying out arrests of suspects – mostly teenagers – in Friday’s shocking attack that took place in the city’s center. A few dozen Israeli Jews beat up three Palestinians, leaving one gravely injured and still hospitalized. According to several testimonies, the attackers also tried to interfere with medical treatment being provided to the wounded. At least one of the suspects was quoted in the Jewish media expressing regret that he and his friends weren’t able to kill their victim.

The event happened only several hours after a firebomb was thrown at a Palestinian taxi, leaving six people wounded. The events were unrelated, but they brought back fears of Jewish terrorism against Palestinians. As Roi Maor notes, unlike Palestinian attacks on Jews, attacks by Jews are under-reported, under-investigated, and under-prosecuted by the authorities.

The latest attack was rightly condemned by left-wing and (few) right-wing politicians. Less discussed was the motive given by some of the suspects for their attempted lynch. According to an eyewitness account published by Yedioth Ahronoth, the attackers claimed that the Palestinians tried to talk to a Jewish girl. Other reports claimed the attack had to do with the desire to prevent contact between Palestinian teenagers and Jewish girls.

There are several organizations promoting ethnic segregation in Israel, with a special emphasis on preventing relations between Jewish girls and Palestinian men. The most vocal is Lehava, an NGO that calls upon citizens to inform them of any case of mixed marriage or relationship. Their low-tech internet site, filled with racism and hate-talk, has a section titled “shame page,” which features the pictures of women, mostly public figures, who are in relationships with non-Jews. The head of Lehava, a Kahanist called Bentzi Gopstein, said today [Hebrew] that the Jerusalem attackers “have raised Jewish honor from the floor and did what the police should have done.”

Lehava wouldn’t merit much attention if it wasn’t for their legitimacy in right-wing circles. In February 2011, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) invited Gopstein to a formal session of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women, along with other members of organizations who work to expose and prevent inter-racial relations. The title of the hearing was “the phenomena of assimilation in Israel – a special session in honor of Jewish Identity Day.”

Gopstein had the opportunity to explain the work of his organizations, and even to complain about “lack of cooperation” from the Ministry of Education; he mentioned the case of a school in Bat Yam “where 20 percent of the girls are dating Arabs.” MK Hotovely turned to a representative from the Department of Education, Dr. Zvi Zameret, for an explanation, and the latter, instead of calling racism for what it is, replied: “This is the first time I am hearing those figures… I made a note to look into that.” A Hebrew protocol of the session can be found here [Hebrew].

A quote from Gopstein was the first one to appear in a press release [Hebrew] that MK Hotovely sent following the session, and other Knesset members present at the debate congratulated her for tackling this issue.

The holy war against interracial relationships has been central to the agenda of racist groups throughout modern history. In many places, the first to suffer from attacks (and later, laws) were Jews. An attempt to introduce laws against intermarriage was the main reason the Knesset rejected Jewish supremacist Meir Kahane in the 1980s. At the time, Justice Shamgar wrote that such ideas “remind us of the worst persecution in Jewish history.”

Times have changed. The demand for racial purity is becoming mainstream, re-entering the Knesset through the front door. Leading rabbis, most of them state employees, have signed letters calling on Jewish homeowners to refrain from renting their apartments to Arabs, or warning Jewish girls against dating Arabs.

It’s a form of racism that treats women as the object of the (Jewish) man, his to keep within the tribe. It’s not surprising therefore that the calls to ban women from public life come from the same national-Orthodox circles who want to “save” those women from Palestinian men. But while the attempts to limit the presence of women in public are (rightly) meeting fierce opposition, the revolting attempts to delegitimize, ban or punish interracial relations are endorsed by not-so-marginal circles, and practically accepted as a legitimate political concern within the Jewish mainstream.

A Lynching in Jerusalem: Anatomy of Jewish racism
By Jesse Benjamin, Mondoweiss
August 21, 2012

The news of an attempted mob lynching in Jerusalem’s Zion Square is trickling into Western news sources. It has been translated from angst-filled Hebrew-language Facebook pages written by eyewitnesses, stunned and harassed first responders, and translations gleaned from Haaretz via Mondoweiss, IMEU and others. The lack of outrage, and coverage, is almost as disturbing as the street level racial violence that showed itself in the heart of Israel, rolling in from the Wild West/West Bank where this is more common.

As I processed this, and recalled my own experiences in this exact spot, it seemed that somebody needed to shed light on what the significance of Zion Square is, why mob violence there is especially significant, and why Jews especially need to see this moment as yet another wake up call. My own privileged perspective on this is far removed from the daily violence and dispossession of Palestinian experiences, but my intention is to push other privileged Jews, Israelis and far away Western liberals to take this incident more seriously. Writing from Atlanta, I also want to underscore what the idea of lynching means, and what histories this act is therefore irrevocably connected to.

Zion Square was a refuge for me as a 16 year old. I slipped out the yeshiva side door and chose to live there, on the street, as a pathway to reinvention. The hippie musicians and jewelry makers who lined the streets back then, in 1987, took me in, and I eventually made it off the street, into a youth hostel where I got a bed in exchange for selling beer and running errands. I was an Israeli/US citizen who grew up secular in Toronto and upstate New York, before becoming a teenage Hassid in Brooklyn, en route to Israel and eventual re-engagement with my natal society. I became friends with 16 year olds Israelis who, unlike me, could not get a one-year deferment from military service or make a plan to get out before the draft grabbed hold of their lives. They were beatnikim , Hebrew plural for beatniks or hippies, in open rebellion and angst at the violence of military service that awaited them inescapably in a few short months, smoking hash, growing long hair, engaging world travelers and sometimes Palestinians anyone in our mixed street world in deep philosophical/political discussions about how to end, avoid or cope with the conflict. It was a powerful coming of age for me, and the pedestrian mall of Ben Yehuda, ending in the stone courtyard of Zion Square, was the hub of this activity, the nerve center of integration, questioning, folk music, exchange students, and occasional political protest. Ok, it was not utopian, things were already pretty segregated, and structural imbalance was already endemic, but it was very different then than now.

I left Israel in 1988, and returned a year later with a final one-year deferment, to study and check in on my still yeshiva-bound brother. All my friends were gone from the street, off to the front lines of the Intifada, carrying out Ariel Sharon’s orders to break the bones of young Palestinian protesters. When I did see them on Zion Square, they were broken people, with vacant eyes, literally unable to embrace me and engage in conversation of any kind. They were rushing to the bars to drink themselves into oblivion, filled with post-traumatic stress and suppressed rage/trauma, from the violent contradiction between their peace-loving souls and their new roles as occupation troops. Their long curly hair had been shaved to the scalp, and with it any pretense of humanity. Recognizing me long enough to talk and share was too painful for my old buddies. This was a shocking personal experience of Israel’s dissipating soul, and it also happened at Zion Square. Younger Israeli beatnikim continued to make the scene and mix with travelers and students, but the number of Palestinians who were willing to congregate or just pass through before sundown was already decreasing precipitously.

In the 1980s, Palestinians in the occupied territories did almost all of the menial labor in Israel, from construction to dishwashing, commuting in and out of Israel in a daily routine of Green Line checkpoint crossings. In 1989, now a college student, we literally had to hide our college-age Palestinian friends from the West Bank when they visited our Zion Square apartment and we got caught up talking without noticing night had fallen and they were now illegally on the Jewish side of town. We turned the lights down, and spoke in whispers, as we hid our friends from neighbors and prying eyes, lest they be caught and taken to jail and tortured – it felt like an oddly reversed Anne Frank situation, and we talked about that too. But the defiance of daily structural violence that was the Intifada brought a gradual end to this unequal intimacy, as Israel responded by more and more completely barricading itself, shutting out occupied territory Palestinians almost completely, and finding migrant labor from the Philippines and more recently Africa to fill this void. Literal and figurative walls went up, and the apartheid infrastructure has been extended and cemented. Since 1987, Israeli Jews have had steeply diminished interaction with the majority of Palestinians, the so-called “Arabs,” making totalized dehumanization easier and easier.

Another thing I saw first hand in the 1980s was the anti-Black dehumanization of Jewish Brooklyn transferring into anti-Arab racism in the West Bank, filled with growing numbers of state-subsidized Brooklyn ex-pat settler extremists. Since then, that once extremist discourse has seeped its way into the mainstream of Israeli parliament, and we see the violence of a street mob looking for “Arabs” to kill. The first vigilante mob I was ever invited to join was in Crown Heights, as my Yeshiva buddies went to “patrol” or in reality antagonize Black residents on the periphery blocks of our shtetl neighborhood. In Israel, some of these same pimply overcompensating dork yeshiva kids and their parents would later be armed with uzis and military training, and unleashed on villagers with the backing of the IDF. Beyond the trash talking teen thugs, was an armed wing of the Jewish Defense League, which was also on the scene in 1980s Brooklyn. This group really thrived in the occupied territories, and their leader, Kahane, literally crossed over, to the West Bank, and into Knesset, where his radical ideas eventually got him expelled, but would now make him almost a centrist.

This gradual seeping of racism across the Atlantic has completely corrupted the core of Israeli culture, which was already steeped in racism of another kind, derived from 19th century colonial European roots. While it could rightly be argued that this kind of racism and violence has always been a part of Israeli history, its hard not to see the steady, unidirectional intensification. Israel’s ethnic cleansing missions in the late 1940s, the Nakba (or Catastrophe) of Palestinian removal, were always denied by Israel, covered up for decades, until being confirmed in the past decades by Israeli historians using declassified documents as proof. But now we see this street lynching, and the Zionist Hasbara machine is barely working to deny or cover it up. It’s as though racist dehumanization has become more acceptable.

The Zion Square lynching should be a moment like the Sharpeville Massacre, or the assault on the Pettus Bridge en route to Montgomery. The presence of a mob, and a spectacle, with cheering, makes this far more like the gruesome Sam Hose lynching in Georgia than the back road lynching of James Byrd in Texas. The mob in Israel two days ago fell on what we now know was four random Palestinian kids, out shopping for the holidays, and brutally kicked one of them unconscious while yelling “death to Arabs,” and (the roughly translated) “A Jew is a soul and (an) Arab is a son of a —-.” The mob turned on Jewish first responders who finally arrived and tried to perform CPR. Some in the angry crowd did not understand why the medics were shocked by what they found, and said the victims were “Arabs” and should be left to die. An Israeli eyewitness wrote trauma-filled FB postings later that night, unable to sleep from what she had seen

When one of the Palestinian youths fell to the floor, the [Jewish] youths continued to hit him in the head, he lost consciousness, his eyes rolled, his angled head twitched, and then those who were kicking him fled and the rest gathered in a circle around, with some still shouting with hate in their eyes.

There is much in common here with the sheer brutality of 20th century US lynchings, and the links need to be better understood. That the eyewitness thinks most of the mob was pre-military service teens further chilled me. Where was the healthy fear of service and violence that marked my generation before the universal draft at the end of high school? These kids are now copying their violent parents who attack, stab, firebomb, and heckle African immigrants in the streets of large Israeli cities so much so that long established Black Jews from Ethiopia and elsewhere feel even less welcome or safe than they once did. They are following the lead of parents and Rabbis who are calling for the protection of Jewish girls from “Arab men.” They are following the lead of Jewish soccer hooligans who import their own version of European football racism and chant “Death to Arabs,” assaulting anyone they think is Arab in the aftermath of recent games, spilling over into assaults in shopping malls and adjacent streets.

When the anonymous facebook author saw the unconscious Palestinian youth taken away in an ambulance, against the mob’s desire, without a pulse of any kind, she presumed he was dead. Miraculously, he was revived on the way to the hospital, regaining a pulse, and then lying in a coma for 2 days, with a breathing tube, before waking up with no recollection of the attack. YNet recently uploaded a photo of the victim, with pixilated face and a clearly visible breathing tube, and Haaretz names him as 17-year-old Jamal Julani, of Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood. While Israeli police originally referred to this as a street brawl, they reclassified the case, according to Monday morning’s Haaretz, as a lynching, and are actively investigating the crime. Haaretz tells us: “A police representative told the Magistrate’s Court that hundreds of people watched the event without helping the victims.” When police arrived on the scene the assailants disappeared into the crowd. Police first arrested a 19 year old on Sunday, who professes innocence, and then yesterday (Israeli time) they arrested four juveniles, ages 13-15, including one female, with more arrests expected soon.

Now, in case anyone reading this thinks I might be reaching, with my comparison to specific Jim Crow US lynching practices, today’s short press piece also provides further evidence that something deeper is indeed at play. The facebook author, and then the police used the term “a lynch,” and this is in fact the English-derived word in Hebrew for such racialized mob violence. But was the term being used accurately? Many bloggers and comment posters on various news fragments about this story in the past few days have hoped to minimize and deny the details of this case, and to say it was just an unfortunate fight between kids, not a racial act or an attempted lynching.

But now the brother of the arrested 13 year old, whose age is not shared, provides perhaps the most telling information to come out yet, as shared in Haaretz:

The suspect’s brother, who was also present at the scene, said outside the court that it was the four Arab youths who had provoked passersby and “made passes at Jewish girls.” He added: “Why should an Arab make passes at my sister? They shouldn’t be here, it’s our area. For what other reason would they come here if not to make passes at Jewish girls?

And there you have it, a full discursive window into the racial illogic that made this horrible event possible. Conceptions of segregated space, in which imagined Jews-only space prevail: “They shouldn’t be here, it’s our area.” The notion that the simple presence of Palestinians in this supposedly Jews-only space is, in itself, a provocation. And then the most important element: the accused’s brother says, “the four Arab youths… provoked passersby and ‘made passes at Jewish girls’,” but quickly unravels when his false claim is shown to be nothing but an extension of his racist ‘logic’: “For what other reason would they come here if not to make passes at Jewish girls?” So, Palestinians in self-declared Jewish spaces are inherently guilty of desiring Jewish girls, and Jewish boys or men are therefore, in his mind, justified in using violence to protect “their” women. Anyone who knows their basic US history knows that even the most sadistic lynchings of Black men were justified on precisely this ground, that Black men inherently posed a real or fabricated threat to white women. Sadly, many of us could see this violence coming in Israel, when earlier this year Rabbis started warning of the threats of intermarriage, and the need to protect Jewish girls from Arab men. This sort of violence was the next logical step.

It remains to be seen whether this attempted lynching will disturb or incite Jewish Israelis, and other people further away. For me, this also hit a personal place, a last vestige or memory of hope for a liberal humanist core within Jewish Israeli culture that might stand up to this downward spiral of racism. Rationally, I know this possibility has been dying for a long time, but symbolically, this lynch mob seems to speak to something significant. Zion Square is symbolic, there is no space like it in Tel Aviv or Beer Sheva, or Haifa. Its sort of like Washington Square Park in New York City, a place with history and a space of open congregation, mixing of people and ideas, a space where thoughts of peace, however naïve, might show up on a shirt, a sign, or in a busker’s song. This attempted lynching struck at the heart of Israeli civic society. And hundreds of those members of Israeli society stood by and cheered, and then harbored the escaping assailants. Who will these teen assailants grow up to be? What future is in store for Israel, on this current course? What kind of world ignores this, and goes about its business.

One hundred years ago, and after being violently removed from her role as a journalist in the US South, the great anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells had to hire white private eyes to go into white communities to investigate lynchings so she could document the horrors of the Jim Crow era. Similarly now, Palestinians need Jewish allies within Israeli society to further expose what is happening, in order for the apartheid and racism that has seized the society to be revealed and challenged before a reluctant Western world. Like their Black counterparts in the US or South African past, Palestinians know this violence on a daily basis, but it is the liberal Western audience that has to be moved in order for global pressure to be brought to bear. The problem is that the globalized West still holds onto Jews as the victims par excellence, and is more comfortable than ever post-9/11 dismissing the humanity of all Arabs and Muslims.

Israel Police: Hundreds watched attempt to lynch Palestinians in Jerusalem, did not interfere

Four minors, including one girl, arrested in connection with attack at Zion Square in which one victim was seriously injured and three others were slightly hurt.

By Oz Rosenberg , Ha’aretz
August 20, 2012

After initially treating the event as a brawl, police on Sunday for the first time referred to the attack on Palestinian youths by dozens of Jewish teens in Jerusalem early last Friday as a “lynching.”

A police representative told the Magistrate’s Court that hundreds of people watched the event without helping the victims.
Witnesses say the attack lasted a short while before police arrived and the attackers fled.

Four minors between the ages of 13-15, including one girl, were arrested on Sunday in connection with the attack at Zion Square, in which one victim was seriously injured and three others were slightly hurt.

Earlier, the court extended by four days the detention of the 19-year-old man arrested Friday. Police believe there will be further arrests.

Sergeant First Class Shmuel Shenhav defined the attack as a lynch, and said: “The victim lost his consciousness and was thought to be dead until a Magen David Adom [emergency paramedic] crew arrived and resuscitated him. He was anesthetized and on a respirator in the hospital for days. This was an extremely severe crime. Only a miracle saved him from death.”

A 13-year-old suspect brought into court yesterday did not deny he was present at the scene, but said he wasn’t involved in the beating. His mother, L., told Haaretz: “They came at noon while he was sleeping. The investigators woke him up and took him to the police car. How can they do such a thing to a young kid?”

The suspect’s brother, who was also present at the scene, said outside the court that it was the four Arab youths who had provoked passersby and “made passes at Jewish girls.” He added: “Why should an Arab make passes at my sister? They shouldn’t be here, it’s our area. For what other reason would they come here if not to make passes at Jewish girls?”

The 19-year-old suspect’s attorney, Ariel Attari, said that his client wasn’t present at the scene and said he had an alibi for the entire time.

Meanwhile, victim Jamal Julani remains in serious condition, according to the authorities. Julani, 17, from Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was admitted to the intensive care unit at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in critical condition. His mother told Haaretz that he had regained consciousness but is very confused, did not remember the assault and did not understand why he was in the hospital.

“There were four of us,” one of the victim’s cousins, Mohammed Mujahad, said Saturday, recalling what happened when he and his three cousins reached Zion Square after midnight Thursday. “Suddenly maybe 50 Jews came toward us shouting, ‘Arabs Arabs.’ I don’t understand what they said. They weren’t calling us. They were just generally shouting.”

According to an eyewitness, the group of teenagers appeared to be hunting for Arab victims, calling out “Death to Arabs” and other anti-Arab slurs.

“We walked slowly, so there wouldn’t be trouble,” related Nuaman Julani, another of Jamal’s cousins. “Suddenly one said to Jamal, ‘What are you doing, you son of a bitch?’ Jamal tried to flee, but [the attacker] whacked him in the chest and [Jamal] fell.”

The incident was brief, according to Mujahad and Nuaman Julani. One of the cousins says he saw a few attackers hitting and kicking Jamal as he lay on the ground. Both noted that police quickly arrived, after which all the perpetrators dispersed.

Is the Jerusalem Lynching Part of a Larger Terrorism Pattern?

By Jeffrey Goldberg, Zach Beauchamp, The Atlantic
August 21 2012

Zach Beauchamp argues that the attempted murder of a group of Arabs by a larger group of Jewish teenagers in Jerusalem cannot be understood without understanding the growing violence of some settlers:

These incidents fit into a disturbing pattern of growing violence committed by radical Israelis, particularly in the West Bank. Last December, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned about “homegrown terror” attacks committed by extremist settlers against Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. There had been an uptick in “price tag” attacks, referred to as such because the terrorists were intending to exact a price for any moves by the Israeli government towards dismantling illegal settlements or withdrawing from the West Bank.

A new report written by two experts on Israeli counterterrorism at the Brookings Institute, Daniel Byman and Natan Sachs, suggests that the problem may be more serious than some had previously thought. Byman and Sachs, citing UN numbers, find that the number of “price tag” attacks had roughly doubled from 2009 to 2011 with limited response from Israeli authorities: over 90 percent of investigations into incidents of settler violence over the past ten years ended without indictments. The attacks have escalated recently, Byman and Sachs argue, as a consequence of the rise of an extremist subculture among young, religious settlers:

[O]ver the last several years, the evolution of the settler community has also led to the growth of a small but significant fringe of young extremists, known as the “hilltop youth,” who show little, if any, deference to the Israeli government or even to the settler leadership. No matter how strongly Gush Emunim opposed government policy, it always officially avoided vigilante violence. But these young radicals, who largely live in settlements deep in the West Bank and do not affiliate with traditional religious authorities, have embraced it. These settlers — likely no more than a couple thousand, a small but dangerous minority within the broader community — are the ones leading the “price tag” attacks against Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers. They have lost faith in the notion that the state, under its current leadership, is key to settling the Land of Israel. Instead, they see it as an obstacle to God’s will.

The Meaning of the Jerusalem Lynching

Jeffrey Goldberg, Daniel Seidemann, The Atlantic
August 21, 2012

Some thoughts from Daniel Seidemann, who knows more about the demographics, politics and sociology of Jerusalem than just about anyone. I don’t always agree with him, but he knows his city. He sent these notes below to me in response to my post yesterday on the Jerusalem lynching (and he wanted me to note, in the interest of fairness, that, Prime Minister Netanyahu has just condemned the attack):

This has not ceased being the lead item in the printed and electronic press. With much of the editorial judgments commercially driven, and the IBA subject to governmental pressure, this wouldn’t be happening if the editors did not believe this genuinely concerns a large chunk of the public. I think they are right.

A lot of Israeli denial is based on the fact that these things happen “there”, in the West Bank, not “here.” And stuff like this does happen in Hebron and East Jerusalem (not all the time, but not rarely), and receives little coverage outside the media of the ideological left. (Look at Youtube on the abuse of Palestinian kids by soldiers and plainclothesman in Hebron just over the last couple of months). But there is nowhere in Jerusalem that is more “here” than Kikar Tziyon (Zion Square), and the comfort zone is narrowing. We may be witnessing the Hebronization of Jerusalem

3. Israelis are laboring under a lot of anxiety this summer, some over Iran, some over Bibi and Barak, and I would guess that there is a plurality a bit spooked by both. And then there is the turmoil on our northern and southern borders, and an economic crunch already felt and getting worse. I think that patience among many Israelis (who don’t need superfluous worries) about settler violence is wearing thin.

4. Things might be best summed up by taking a hard look at the public pronouncements of three prominent figures on this: Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, condemned “any expression of violence, both verbal or physical, by any party,” turning both victims and perps into faceless, odorless, colorless, tasteless entities. He’s got elections in a year, and will need the support even of the radical right.

Netanyahu called Abbas and expressed concern over the fire-bombing in the WB, not the assault in Jerusalem. To do so would be to imply that Abbas had some kind of tie to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem. Nosiree sir, not for him to imply a divided Jerusalem.

And then there was Deputy Prime Minister Bogie Yaalon. I never have had much admiration for Yaalon, the politician. Watching him, this secular former kibbutznik, pander much more than he would like to the settlers makes me squirm. And he condemned the attack in no uncertain terms, as “hate crime” and terror.

First, this is a game-changer in terms of the discourse. It’s not only the “Arabists” at State that call this terror, this is from our Deputy prime minister, who is not about to get a prize from B’Tselem (Israel’s most prominent human rights group).

Second, I don’t think he was putting his ear to ground and listening to public opinion. He will be standing in Likud primaries some time soon, and he probably caused himself electoral damage by this statement, and did it with open eyes. And he did it because in spite of his move to the right, because this violates his values, and worries him. My guess is he is not alone.

Finally – as to the backgrounds of the attackers: not clear yet. The reports from the courts were “kids with no prior criminal records”, but also haven’t heard the euphemistic “…from normative backgrounds”.

In wake of lynch, Arabs fear the streets

Arab Israelis say they try to avoid walking around at night for fear they would be attacked by racists

By Hassan Shaalan, Ynet news
August 22, 2012

A brutal assault allegedly perpetrated by dozens of Jewish teens last week has reawakened long-harbored feelings of fear among Arab Israelis across the country.

The tension was primarily felt in Jaffa, Safed and Haifa, cities where Jews and Arabs live side by side.

“What happened in Jerusalem could happen here in Jaffa; there are enough racist Jews here,” Ali Mahamid, 22, told Ynet. “I’m afraid to walk down the street alone, especially in certain neighborhoods, because someone could attack me for no reason.”

An 18-year-old Arab man was the target of a violent attack on Friday in Zion Square in the capital. According to initial details, a female teen told her friends that she was raped by an Arab; her friends reacted by beating up an Arab passerby, causing serious injuries that put the victim in a coma. So far seven Jewish teens have been arrested in connection with the case.

According to Arab Israelis, the incident was not an isolated one.

“What happened in Jerusalem was covered by the media, but there are incidents that happen on a daily basis, in areas with bars and cafes, against Arab youths who just want to go out and have fun,” said Rabia Sagir, a Haifa resident who is studying at Safed College. “These incidents are a consequence of the incitement voiced by extremist rabbis and racist public officials.”

Shaheen Nasser, 26, another Haifa resident, reiterated that Arabs are often discriminated against for racist reasons; Arabs undergo harsher security checks, he said, and are often refused entry to clubs and bars.

“Sometimes it’s scary to walk down the street, but what’s really terrifying is the institutionalized racism,” he said. “The education system should teach tolerance and multiculturalism, but unfortunately attempts (to instate such programs) by human rights groups have failed.”

In Acre, however, Arabs appear to feel quite safe while Jews are afraid to enter the Old City after dark.

“There is violence here but only between criminals, not for nationalistic reasons,” said Ahmad Hamdan, 64, a resident of the northern city.

“We don’t have any problems between Arabs and Jews here,” Hamdan’s neighbor, Majid Aish, added. “Extremists are the ones causing all the trouble.”

Meanwhile, a Jewish youth strolling down the street with his girlfriend said he was anxious to step out at night.

“I try to avoid entering the Old City in the evenings,” said the resident, who wished only to be identified as Omri. “Every time I enter the city I feel like I’m taking a chance. I feel like they’re staring at me and talking about me.”

“I would have been happy if (Arabs) weren’t here,” the girlfriend added.

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