“Akko riots expose Arab-Jewish tinderbox” by Leslie Susser
JERUSALEM (JTA) – The rioting in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Akko, which erupted after an Arab man drove through a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur, shows just how combustible Arab-Jewish relations in Israel are. Yet after four successive nights of clashes, in which rampaging Arabs stoned Jewish-owned shops and cars as Jewish mobs torched Arab homes, there was no sign of the violence spreading to other mixed-ethnic cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth or Lod.
Nor did the current Jewish-Arab tensions appear likely to reach the proportions they did following October 2000, when Israeli police shot dead 12 Israeli Arabs and a visitor from the West Bank in clashes across northern Israel that coincided with the launching of the second Palestinian intifada.
But the rioting in Akko is more than an isolated violent episode in need of containment. Even if the rioting abates, it is sounding warning bells for the Israeli government. Jewish-Arab tensions in Akko and in the country as a whole have been simmering under the surface for years. The rioting was an expression of Arab frustration and Jewish mistrust.
The latest trouble started on the eve of Yom Kippur, Oct. 8. On this holiest day of the Jewish calendar, everything in Israel comes to a halt. For the duration of the 25-hour fast, businesses and places of entertainment are shuttered, and the roads are virtually free of cars. Even completely secular Jews and non-Jewish Israelis refrain from driving in Jewish neighborhoods. Click here to read more online at JTA.org.
See also this from the Jerusalem Post: “Arab-Jewish coexistence groups remain committed to staying the course in Acre.”
I find your posting of this JTA article with no critical commentary to be troubling. By doing so it appears that you and Meretz USA are endorsing the reporter’s analysis of events rather than deploring some of it. For example the article says this:
“The latest trouble started on the eve of Yom Kippur, Oct. 8. On this holiest day of the Jewish calendar, everything in Israel comes to a halt. For the duration of the 25-hour fast, businesses and places of entertainment are shuttered, and the roads are virtually free of cars. Even completely secular Jews and non-Jewish Israelis refrain from driving in Jewish neighborhoods.”
“So when an Akko Arab drove his car into a Jewish neighborhood that night, reportedly blaring loud music, the act seemed like a deliberate provocation.”
“Angry Jews forced the car to stop, pulled out the driver and beat him.”
The author thus implies, because virtually everyone refrains from driving in Jewish neighborhoods (and god knows there should be no Palestinians living in, working in, visiting or traveling through “Jewish neighborhoods”) that it was “a provocation” for a Palestinian citizen of Israel not to subscribe to a Jewish religious dictate. Do you and Meretz USA support the idea that no one, including non-Jews, should be able to drive on Yom Kippur, that all must change their behavior and be denied freedom of movement due to a Jewish religious concern?
The reporter also never questions the beating of the Palestinian driver as fundamentally wrong and a criminal act. After all, everyone refrains from driving and then “an Akko Arab drove his car into a Jewish neighborhood that night, reportedly blaring loud music, the act seemed like a deliberate provocation.” The appropriateness of beating the driver of the car in reaction seems to follow.
Indeed, we know that in democratic Israel, a model for the Middle East, the driver was detained (though now released). Personally, I have found no reporting that the people who beat him were arrested.
Do you and Meretz USA endorse the idea that in Israel non-Jews’ rights to freedom of movement should be subject to the dictates of Jewish religion conventions, and that the beating of the driver was therefore appropriate because he committed “a provocation” by exercising his right to freedom of movement?
Again, I suggest that by posting this article with no critical commentary whatsoever, you and Meretz USA appear to be endorsing these positions.
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Ted is a bit of a provocateur. Of course we don’t believe that Palestinian citizens of Israel should have a problem entering a Jewish neighborhood, or even in living there. This was a news story about a nasty situation.
Ted should also look at the Jerusalem Post story linked to this posting, which tells of Israeli Zionist youth engaged in a project for coexistence.
A search for articles on this incident on the Ynet News website provides a range of articles that illuminate many more aspects than are in the JTA article, or the back-and-forth “here.”
Take a look – and scroll back a few days to see some rather insightful articles, opinion pieces, etc.
>> Arieh Lebowitz – see below: