Arab-Israeli uprising: ‘This time is different’

Tamer Nafer, a Palestinian rapper from Lod, the city of Israel captures a paroxysm of communal violence between Jews and Arabs, thinking he saw it all.

At the age of 43, he lived to be the first and second Palestinian intifadas or uprisings, the steady rise of Israel’s increasingly popular population, and a cycle of wars between the country whose passport he holds and his fellow Arabs in Gaza. Never before has there been such a strong feeling of the Arab minority community in Israel, he said.

“This time it’s different, a kind of awakening born of 70… Years of oppression,” he said, the morning after his hometown seemed to be in ruins – Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens interacted. street fighting, because the police and special forces did not enforce order. “In this country, equality is a technicality – it’s a Jewish country, and the national anthem itself doesn’t care about the two million Arabs and Christians.”

This week Nafer’s own anthems – like Innocent Criminals (“If Jews protest, police use clubs / if Arabs protest, police take their souls”) – car stereos are released by young Arab men driving around the mixed cities such as Lod, Jaffa and East Jerusalem, uprising.

With Israeli Jews and Arab minorities fighting in the streets and the Israeli military bombing Palestinian militants in Gaza and Hamas firing rockets at Israeli towns and cities, Israel has been missing for a week. from seemingly strong, stable and prosperous in a struggling nation. internal conflict and war with invincible enemies nearby.

With nearly a dozen people killed in communal fighting and hundreds arrested, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Now we have no greater threat than riots.”

The brutality of the Arab-Jews challenged Israel’s account of peaceful coexistence and declared that all citizens would be treated equally. Arabs, who make up a fifth of the population, say their daily lives are embroiled in bureaucratic and legal discrimination enshrined in Israeli law. Israel has many laws that are selective or applied only to Arabs, according to Adalah, a group that advocates for equality for Arabs and Jews.

Jewish residents retrieve a Torah scroll from the burned synagogue in Lod © Abir Sultan / EPA / Shutterstock

Human Rights Watch last month said Israel’s system of governance had crossed the threshold into apartheid, discriminating against Arab citizens while violating the human rights of five million Palestinians in the occupied territories. B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, made that payment in January.

Both groups drew condemnation from the Israeli government, dismissing the HRW report as “infinite and inaccurate”. It says policies driven by security considerations are no different.

“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s a government on the right or left, it’s still a Zionist government,” said Tony Copti, a documentary filmmaker who worked on the winning film. Ajami, about crime and poverty in a corner of Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood. “This fire is changing all the time – it’s like a bubble that Palestinian citizens are told to live in Israel, but we can’t do it anymore.”

The immediate cause of the unrest this week was a quick mix of many people’s issues on the calendar – a court ruling over the anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem that would have seen Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem driven from their homes; images of heavy Israeli police beating Muslim protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan prayers and an even more aggressive throwing of the palace at the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.

The al-Aqsa mosque is in a compound-known to Muslims as that Haram ash-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and the Jewish Temple Mount – that is sacred in both religions.

Palestinian protesters disperse tear gas fired by Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
Palestinian protesters disperse tear gas fired by Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem © Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty

The long list of Arab grievances – from historic injustices to bans around al -Aqsa – has strengthened ties between Palestinians within Israel’s borders and the occupied territories. of these, the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Within days, Hamas, the militant group that controls the blocked Gaza Strip, fired a volley of Israeli rockets, starting a conflict that threatened to turn into a full -blown war. It was quickly fed up with communal violence in Israel.

For some of the Arab minority community, mostly generations of Palestinians who remained within the Jewish states when Israel was born in 1948, the scenes evoked attacks by Jewish militias. to their parents and grandparents.

The Jews were deeply shaken by the violence, which some called a “pogrom” reminiscent of their suffering in 20th century Europe. Arab protesters set fire to Jewish synagogues and schools. Dozens of Jews were attacked, hundreds of their cars were set on fire. Arab mobs stoned and destroyed Jewish property. A Jew is stabbed towards the synagogue. “The civil war has started,” said Yair Revivo, mayor of Lod.

Israeli leader Reuven Rivlin said: “Watching the Lod pogrom and the unrest across the country by a threatening and bloodthirsty Arab rioter, injuring people, damaged the property and even attacks on Jewish sacred places are unforgivable. ”

For the Arabs, the violence turned out to be poorly spent by Asma Eid al-Fitr, the day Muslims celebrated their dawn Ramadan with a festival, hid at home. The 48-year-old mother asked her two sons to give her an Eid wish-to lock the doors, drop Ramadan balloons from the windows and hide in Ajami’s house, a Arab neighborhood south of Tel Aviv’s glittering skies and inviting beaches. .

Outside, the street was deserted; in the midst of the crisis intensified on social media. In the news, and on their phones, Asma and her family watched videos of a mob man shouting “Death to the Arabs”, about five minutes from his home. In another video, the men disguised with the Star of David in extreme exhaustion of their army display their stun grenades and block the path in a path he does not recognize. “The world can see the ugly truth,” Asma said in the videos.

He stuffed his drawers, and issued his Israeli passport, used only once on his flight to Istanbul for his 45th birthday. “I had to get rid of it,” he said. “It’s worthless.”

For Nafer, the rapper, the struggle is not over yet. “I don’t want to live, I just want to have.”

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