Dov Kheinin posted on his Facebook account about an encounter a Palestinian woman had with Israeli Border Police shortly after a series of stabbings occurred on a Tel Aviv public bus last week:
Another sad story you haven’t heard in Israeli media which occurred just after the stabbing attack last week.
Maisa Ayuti of Yafo traveled on a bus to her cleaning job in the Azrieli Mall when the attack happened. When she got off the bus, a riot policeman asked her to give him her ID for inspection. She gave it to him. A moment later another policeman also asked for her ID. She responded that just a moment earlier she’d been questioned by his colleague. The policeman’s response was to twist her hand, breaking it and putting a pistol to her head.
Maisa lost consciousness and was hospitalized. Since the incident, no official representative spoke with her, tried to make contact, or apologized. They dumped her bruised and wounded at Wolfson Hospital. Since then she can’t sleep nights. She’s even more afraid of the police than she was previously; with good reason. A State must not related this way to its citizens. Police should not attack people in this way. A woman wearing a head covering doesn’t automatically turn into a terror suspect.
Yesterday, I came to visit her, to ask how she’s doing, to offer help, and to apologize in the name of the State.
Another similar incident happened in Jerusalem this week. A 21 year old Druze, Tommy Hasson, had just completed his IDF service in which he served in the army honor guard at the president’s residence. After leaving work at a Jerusalem hotel with an East Jerusalem friend, a group of 10 Orthodox Jews heard Hasson speaking Arabic with his friend. One of the group tried to throw a garbage can at him. When he fought back, the mob assaulted him with fists and bottles, which they broke over his head:
“Someone spat at me and I hit him. And then everyone came at me. They all hit me. (With) glass, bottles. They were a big group (and) they yelled – they could not do anything and did not stop. I only managed to escape to the bus station’s entrance after a few minutes and there a few people sat me down, gave me water and took care of me – they called an ambulance until the police arrived. They started asking me questions. In the meantime, blood ran down all over me – my head, my ears and on my shirt,” said Hasson.
Hasson’s father, Ramzi, had this to say:
“On a personal level I believed up until now that this is one nation – I never saw a difference between a Jew and a Druze. I believed and I will continue to believe in the future that this is the land of the Jewish nation – it has a right to live here. There was never doubt about this. I blame myself (and) I blame my Jewish friends for not doing enough to educate. To speak Arabic is not shameful – it does not make you a potential terrorist.”
Let’s go back in time almost 100 years ago to Depression-era Germany. To the time before the Nazis came to power. During that era, the country was riven by some of the same hatreds as those besetting Israel. The difference is that the pre-1933 Nazi saw the Jews as a Fifth Column in their midst and the Israeli far-right sees Palestinians the same way. Ironic, isn’t it? The Nazis too engaged in organized hooliganism against their perceived enemies, like what’s described above. They organized riots, beat Jews and their left-wing opponents, they smashed store windows, they boycotted businesses. They blamed all the ills of society on enemies from within and without. But the enemies within were always the Jews (and the Bolsheviks, who were often one and the same).
The hate spewed incessantly by Israeli leaders against “Arabs,” the mounting levels of violence, the acts of terrorism, the increasing concentration of power in the hands of a few conniving leaders–all this brings to mind what happened nearly 100 years ago. I’m not predicting an Arab Holocaust. After all, the settlerists know the world will not let them repeat history. At any rate, they don’t want to exterminate “Arabs” as Hitler did the Jews. They want to be rid of them. So their goal will be either to expel them or, barring that, rendering them quiescent and powerless.
They’ve done a damn good job of it too. Gaza is little more than an Israeli punching bag just waiting for the next shoe to drop and another series of punishing onslaughts leaving another thousand or two dead civilians. It happens every few years. The next one will probably come right on schedule in 2016 or so.
The West Bank too plays Israel’s game in the form of the PA and its so-called leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The only threat it poses is largely symbolic as it dutifully awaits the international community getting the balls to recognize Palestine (if it ever does). Meanwhile, the settlerists progressively swallow more and more Palestinian land. Their goal to turn Palestine into a few pockets of isolated Bantustans.
As for Palestinians within Israel, they are far better Israelis than most Jewish citizens. They love their country. They strive to make a place for themselves within it despite the vast system of roadblocks placed in their path. They make the best of it. They don’t, except in rare cases, riot or engage in revolutionary acts. Though seen by Israel’s leadership as a Fifth Column, they are not. And perhaps for that reason, these Palestinians too are largely powerless to provoke real change.
But even this level of repression is too little for Israel’s leadership. For them, Palestinians must be neutered, rendered a nullity. I don’t know what form this will ultimately take. But incidents like the ones portrayed here will become everyday occurrences (they almost are now). And then, instead of one a day there will be ten. Until there is an explosion. Not a small, managed riot like those in Tel Aviv’s HaTikvah neighborhood in which African refugees were the prey. But a massive paroxysm of violence. That day will come. A dark day, but it is coming.
The problem is that Israelis and Diaspora Jews see anti-Palestinian racism as a manageable problem. It’s a question of a few hooligans who make the rest of the nation look bad. If we make a few statements of concern and regret once in a while and arrest one in 100 of the assailants that will keep the lid on things. But remember the Nazis before 1933. Weimar Germany viewed them as a minor threat. As a bunch of violent hooligans who beat up their political enemies in beer halls. But as conditions got worse, as the Depression sunk in, the resentments of the average German piled up. By then, it was too late. The Nazis had stormed the barricades and the corridors of power opened wide to them.
So Israeli racism is not an idle threat. It’s a symptom of rot and decay within. It will not be addressed properly because too many in the political elite benefit from it. This is why I harbor less and less hope for Israel to transform itself without a massive level of violence and social upheaval.
Returning to Tommy Hasson, six of the Jerusalem assailants have been arrested. Shall we wager whether they will receive any punishment? When do Jewish Brown Shirts get punished when they beat an “Arab” to a pulp?
A final word on Tommy Hasson: not many Druze live in Jerusalem. Tommy is originally from Haifa. He moved to Jerusalem to pursue a career as a musician. He wants to be an artist and entered a conservatory to learn and practice his art. Will there be a place for art in the this future Israel of Jewish Brown Shirts? Will there be a place for Druze? Will there be a place for anyone but Jews?