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Downturn in Jewish-Arab Relations in Israeli Cities

Four Jews arrested on suspicion of murdering an Arab in J'lem. Jews incensed by Arab harassment of women, nationalist march planned in Yafo.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/24/2011, 9:52 PM / Last Update: 2/24/2011, 9:54 PM

Flash 90

 

Reports from Israel's largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv Yafo (Jaffa), indicate that relations between Jews and Arabs in the mixed cities are at a boiling point. In Jerusalem, Jews have been arrested on suspicion of murdering an Arab man, while in Yafo, Jewish nationalists are planning a march next week.  
 
On Wednesday, a gag order was lifted on a report that four Jewish youths were arrested on suspicion of murdering an Arab in central Jerusalem two weeks ago. Following this news, Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language service interviewed Bentzi Gupstein, one of the leaders of anti-assimilation group Lehava.
 
"The situation in Jerusalem is on the verge of an explosion," Gupstein said. "Jewish girls are afraid to walk down the streets, they encounter harassment. We must put an end to this. There are Jews who decided to stop the phenomenon but it is the police's duty to do this. If the police do not act in this matter and if the phenomenon continues more Jews will get up and act. I do not want this to happen, stopping the harassment is the job of the authorities, and [if they do it] the Jews will not have to protect their sisters."
 
"We, at the Lehava hotline, continue to receive dozens of calls from all over the country. Girls call us and say that they cannot walk in the streets. These are girls from all sectors. The harassment must stop."
 
Meanwhile, nationalists headed by MK Michael Ben Ari have asked to hold a march down the streets of Yafo next Wednesday. Activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel met with officers from the Tel Aviv District and said that the march is a response to the march that radical leftists and Muslim Arabs held in Yafo last month, in which they chanted slogans against the state of Israel.   
 
The police asked the Jewish nationalists to keep their march a low-profile event, but the activists would have none of that. "It is time to put in their place the Islamic elements seeking to carry put a revolution in central Israel, against the background of the events in Arab countries," they said.
 
Ben Gvir told Arutz Sheva: "If marching down a street in Yafo with the Israeli flag is a provocation, then we are carrying out a provocation. Elements in Yafo are trying to carry out a rebellion like the one in a-Tahrir Square in Egypt, and our job is not to stick our heads in the sand, and to take preventive measures. I find it hard to believe that the police will not approve the march." 
 
The harassment of Jewish women by Arabs has become a hot topic in the past year. The subject of sexual harassment has been the exclusive domain of leftist gender-feminists for decades, and was used almost exclusively with regard to Jewish men. Only recently have nationalists realized that the term can also be used to apply to Arab abuse of Jewish women. The first known conference on the subject was initiated by the Zionist Women's Forum in 2009.