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
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?