Daily Israel Report

Planned Israeli Pro-Zionist March in Yafo Causes Controversy

Nationalist activists plan to march in Yafo with Israeli flags, to counter Muslim extremism there. Not all religious Zionist residents approve.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/25/2011, 9:30 AM / Last Update: 2/25/2011, 11:15 AM

file

Nationalist activists led by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) are planning to show their pride in being Israeli Zionists in the midst of the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Yafo, just south of Tel Aviv. The activists plan to march through Yafo next week holding Israeli flags.

The march was planned in an attempt to counter recent Muslim extremism in the area, which has been bolstered by support from the extreme Israeli left, activists said. Last month, Muslims and leftists marched in Yafo, and many chanted slogans against Israel.

Activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel requested permission to march from police. Officers asked them to keep their plans under wraps, but they replied that they would not do so, and instead plan to publicize the event.

“The time has come to stand up to the Islamists who are calling for a revolution in central Israel like those in the Arab world,” the two said.

Ben-Gvir spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service and responded to detractors who accuse nationalists of provoking Israeli Arabs. “If marching down a street in Yafo with the Israeli flag is a provocation, then we are carrying out a provocation,” he said.

The march is geared to nip clashes between Jews and Arabs in the bud, not cause new ones, he added. “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,” he explained.

Ben-Gvir and Marzel previously held a march in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el-Fahm. Hundreds of Arab residents gathered to throw rockets at police officers protecting the march, leading to several injuries on both sides.

Among those who oppose the planned march are leaders of a group of religious-Zionist families who moved there to enhance Jewish life in the city as par of what is known as a  “Garin Torani'” [seed group for Torah, ed]. “We are firmly against any attempt, by anyone, Jew or Arab, to stir up tensions in Yafo in order to win political ratings at the expense of residents of the city,” said members Itai Garnek and Yuval Alpert.

“It would be fine to wave an Israeli flag and march in Yafo,” they continued. “But there is no room for a march the sole purpose of which is to fan the flames, and thus play into the hands of the extreme Left, which opposes the religious-Zionist presence in Yafo.”