MEDIA WATCH--A ceasefire from the slaughter in Gaza is good news. It's also woefully inadequate, given it comes with "an inevitable expiration date" amidst the Occupation's "normal" reign of apartheid and horrific, bloodthirsty, ever-new sins visited upon besieged Palestinians. (Photo above: Jewish rioters lynching Said Musa, an Arab man, in Bat Yam. Photo by Reuven Castro)
Add to the 14 Gaza families killed in their homes, the 17-year-old shot in the head and radio journalist targeted in an airstrike and wheelchair-bound man killed with his pregnant wife and three-year-old daughter as they were preparing lunch and hundreds of others; add to the 75,000 people now homeless and the barrage of murder, eviction, random arrest, illegal incarceration, litany of indignities daily endured by Palestinians - add to that the virtual lynching’s of Arabs in what turn out to be tenuously mixed cities by frenzied, emboldened, rampaging, knife-wielding mobs of Israeli extremists, abetted by media and politicians, spewing "Death To Arabs" and vowing, "Kill them one by one," which they sometimes do by dragging them from their cars.
“We are no longer Jews today,” wrote one organizer for a group titled “People from Holon, Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion go out to bring war.” “Today, we are Nazis.”
In what many say constitutes a newly inflamed civil war, bands of Israeli settlers have attacked Arab residents of Jewish-Arab towns - Haifa, Bat Yam, Tiberias in the north, Ramla and Lydd (or Lod) just below Tel Aviv in the center, Beersheba in the south - that long took pride in their peaceful co-existence.
Arabs have also taken to the streets to protest, throw stones and set fire to synagogues, but their level of destruction pales before the settlers'. In Bat Yam, Said Musa, a member of one of the town's oldest Arab families, was dragged from his car and beaten unconscious after he was asked, "Are you an Arab?"; the attack was broadcast on TV.
Just before, rioters had urged, "Get brass knuckles, clubs, knives. Come prepared. Kill them one by one.” Still, from the hospital, a battered Musa insisted, "We're all human beings." Another Arab was dragged from his car and killed; the suspects were all released after senior pols expressed outrage at their arrests.
An ice cream shop and other stores owned by Palestinians were smashed. Over 380 settlers from Yitzhar in the occupied West Bank, long home to some of the worst violence against Palestinians, arrived in six buses. Organizers urged, "Everyone with weapons, bro. Every one of them, dying to kill Arabs."
For many, the onslaught exposed the frailty of their cherished myth of co-existence. "I don't know how to carry on here," said a Lod resident who has given tours to thousands of people telling them "the story of a place that represents a microcosm of Israeli society (where) things can be done differently...That story has now burst in our faces.”
Much of the right-wing violence has been coordinated on social media platforms - WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook - where groups with names like “Death to the Arabs in Haifa, War Group” and “Fucking the Arabs, Afula Branch” send out messages calling for burning vehicles, mosques and Arabs.
They propose weapons to bring - spear guns, Molotov cocktails, short-barreled M-16 rifles, large knives: “Stabbings in the head, terror today.” Also: "Head out with guns, head out with God knows what....The rules are all off. Everything is on fire...Whoever wants to come protect the state is welcome. We're breaking all their bones." Many messages were tracked by Fake Reporter and Adalah, watchdog and advocacy groups. They reported the more inflammatory messages to Israeli police as "a ticking time-bomb," adding, "No one in the authorities can claim they did not know." But police did nothing, and in fact often brazenly supported the violence - a complicity many charge renders it state-sanctioned terrorism.
"The police won't do anything to us," boasts one rioter. "They will back us up and turn a blind eye." So did the pols. Netanyahu called Palestinian protesters "terrorists," intoning, "We will not allow our Jewish citizens to be lynched or live in fear of murderous Arab gangs"; President Rivlin dubbed them a "bloodthirsty Arab mob." Lod's deputy mayor warned "every Arab resident not to leave their home," and assured lawmakers that hundreds of settler "volunteers" were en route to "protect" Jewish homes and "assist with security," apartheid-ese for "blindly suppress Arab rage."
The mainstream media has likewise toed the Occupation line, openly inciting vigilante violence against Palestinians. In an increasingly tense interview with wary Palestinian journalist Rami Younis, senior TV anchor Dov Gil-Har repeatedly harassed him about Arab unrest; in what Younis calls "a perfect example of how structural violence is maintained and nurtured," the anchor suggested to his mostly Jewish viewers that the solution might be "reload the gun magazines.”
Such blatant racism is, of course, part of Israel's longstanding narrative; their proud trumpeting of a ceasefire - and its disingenous implication it means life in Israel can return to "normal" - ignore the brutal truth that, "One person's calm is another person's perpetual oppression."
That facile and contextless half-truth is reflected in what Jonathan Cook charges was the "illusion" of mixed Jewish/Arab cities that Arab protests finally served to smash. Coexistence "worked for only one ethnic group, Jews," he argues, and is built on a "continuing Judaization" of historic Palestinian communities" that often use the pretexts of tourism and archeological preservation - cue a Disney-style Kingdom of David theme park in Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan - they hope will appease a world appalled by their ethnic cleansing and mass bombardments.
Still, in an Israel that's learned to live with condemnation and fosters a discourse of denial - "You hear only one voice, a voice of cheering on the fighting, of asking for more blood" - Gideon Levy argues "it's time to move to deeds." They begin, says a Palestinian pastor, with calling things by their name. It's not a conflict. It's an Occupation, a genocide, apartheid, racism: "These are the descriptors that define our daily lives."
And today, with grievous history come full circle - most painfully, for those of us whose ancestors arduously labored to escape them - Jews are holding pogroms.
A man was taken out of his car and beaten in Bat Yam for being suspected of being an Arab in what Israeli media is calling a lynch. I have no words. pic.twitter.com/lKjMDsOOFR
(CityWatch guest columnist, Abby Zimet, writes for the excellent CommonDreams.org … where this piece was first posted.)