March of Jewish extremists inflames Arab stronghold

Riot police protecting 30 far-right Israeli extremists who marched in the country's largest Arab town yesterday chanting "death to terrorists" used a barrage of tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesting residents.

Ten arrests were made during clashes between stone-throwing Israeli Arab youths and riot police after the arrival of the marchers, who were led by two of the country's most extreme right-wing activists, Hebron settlers Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir.

Hundreds of armed police were deployed at the flashpoint on an outer edge and elsewhere in Umm el-Fahm to keep apart local Arab protesters and Jewish ultranationalists taking part in the short symbolic march, which had been permitted by Israel's Supreme Court. The court decision had fuelled tensions between some Israeli Jews and the country's Arab minority, already exacerbated by a series of legislative proposals targeting Arab Israelis and promoted by Avigdor Lieberman, the country's hard-right foreign minister. These include the demand that newly naturalised citizens should pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish state".

After a resident shouted that he had seen a bus bringing the marchers to the neighbourhood, at least two stones were thrown at a protective cordon of police carrying riot shields. Within seconds officers fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades, scattering bystanders, reporters, and around 350 Arab and other demonstrators, including a few from the small ultraorthodox Jewish anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta.

As a minority of the Arab protesters – mainly youths, some masked by headscarves – returned to burn tyres and throw stones at police, undercover officers, dressed as Arabs, made arrests.

Police said four officers had been slightly injured. One arrested teenager could be seen bleeding from a head wound as he was frogmarched away by police. Two Arab Knesset members taking part in the protest, Hanin Zoabi and Afu Aghbaria, were lightly injured by stun grenades. Police kept journalists away from the marchers. But Amneh Jabari, 38, a woman who lives by the designated route, told Associated Press that the marchers brandished Israeli flags and recited prayers, chanting "death to the Arabs" and "Umm el-Fahm will be Jewish".

The leaders of the march are admirers of Meir Kahane, an overtly racist US-born rabbi who demanded that Palestinians should be expelled from Israel and the West Bank. He was shot dead by an Arab gunman in a New York Hotel exactly 20 years ago.

Mr Marzel said that the activists had come to demand that Israel's government should ban the Islamic Movement, which dominates the local council here, as it had Kahane's Kach Party. "If the Kach Party was outlawed, then the Islamic Movement deserves to be outlawed 1,000 times over," he said.

But Khaled Hamdan, the town's mayor, criticised police for protecting the marchers and their leader, calling them "a madman and a bunch of racists. The purpose behind this (march) clearly is to provoke and to cause chaos," he said.

One Arab resident, Adeeb Mahdid, 56, said the marchers were not representative of Israeli Jews. "Arabs cannot do without the Jews, who come here to our shops and are welcome," he said. "Baruch Marzel is just trying to hurt good relations between us."

The march coincided with the separate conviction of an Israeli Arab political activist, Ameer Makhoul, who confessed to espionage for Hizbollah in a plea bargain. He was arrested in May.

Rabbi Meir Kahane: The Ultranationalist

Meir Kahane was an American-Israeli Orthodox rabbi, ultra-nationalist and politician. A passionate activist for Jewish causes in New York, he emigrated to Israel in 1971. Soon after his arrival, he established the militantly anti-Arab Kach party, declaring that all Arabs should be deported. He led Kach to parliament in 1984 before it was eventually banned as racist; his most famous work, They Must Go, has been likened to Mein Kampf.

In 1990, after delivering a speech to mostly Orthodox Jews in Manhattan, he was assassinated by an Arab gunman. The significance of his death became apparent after no charismatic leader emerged to replace him as head of the Israeli right-wing movement. Kahanist ideology later spawned two factions, Kach and Kahane Chai ("Kahane Lives"), deemed as terrorist organisations by the Israeli and US governments. He remains a figurehead of the anti-Arab sentiment, and is still revered among right-wing Israelis.

John Elmes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory