Archive for Palestinians

Settlers, Amongst IDF Soldiers Shoot at Palestinians

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2012 by loonwatch

Fanatical Yitzhar Settlers have once again attacked Palestinians. One Settler was armed with a “Tavor” rifle only used by IDF infantry soldiers. They were also accompanied by soldiers who according B’TSelem didn’t do enough to protect Palestinians from Settler violence.

Video: Settlers, amongst soldiers, fire on Palestinians

(Ma’an News)

An Israeli human rights group released footage on Sunday of settlers firing on a Nablus village a day earlier, and called on Israel’s military to investigate the assailants, as well as the army’s role.

Settlers entered Asira al-Qibliya on Saturday and threw rocks at properties in the village, which borders Yitzhar settlement, before the arrival of Israeli forces, a Ma’an correspondent said.

In the ensuing clashes Nimir Fathi, 24, was shot in the neck, while Ahmad Jaber Jibrel, 30, was hit in the face with a rock.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem released footage by volunteer photographers showing the settlers, some of whom were masked and armed, arriving in the village.

Palestinian youth from the village arrived and threw stones at settlers, and Israeli forces arrived at the scene, while rounds of live ammunition are heard, B’Tselem said.

The group said the footage raises “grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians … and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing.”

B’Tselem said the one settler used a “Tavor” rifle, only used by Israeli infantry soldiers, and called for the army to investigate suspicions that the assailant was thus a soldier on leave.

Another two settlers were armed with M4 rifles, and one with a pistol while another appears to be wearing a police cap, the group said.

B’Tselem said it had written to police and military authorities calling on them to apprehend the shooters and investigate the “suspicion that the soldiers did not adhere to their obligation to protect Palestinians from settler violence.”

An Israeli military spokeswoman said at the time that settlers has clashed with Palestinians in the village, and she was looking into further details.

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian Presidency Tayeb Abdel Rahim, visiting the wounded men in Rafidia Hospital in Nablus later Saturday, condemned the “barbaric attack by settlers.”

The Palestinian Authority will not stand idly by while these “completely unacceptable and reprehensible actions” take place, he said.

Abdel Rahim demanded the international community fulfill its responsibilities towards such “crimes that will lead to the collapse and security-destabilization of the region as a whole.”

In 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that settler attacks had increased by 50 percent on the previous year.

Settler violence against local Palestinian communities is widespread, but figures compiled by Israeli rights group Yesh Din have repeatedly shown that nine out of 10 police investigations about settler crimes fail to lead to a prosecution.

Surveys Show Muslims in Every Country Less Likely to Justify Killing Civilians than Americans and Israelis

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2011 by loonwatch

(source for comic)

I recently published an article entitled Gallup Poll: Jews and Christians Way More Likely than Muslims to Justify Killing Civilians.  The poll found that Muslim-Americans (21%) were far less likely than their fellow Jewish (52%) and Christian (58%) countrymen to think it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians.  (For the record, these numbers were 64% in Mormons and 43% in people with no religion/atheists/agnostics.)

Islamophobes didn’t like the results of this poll and quickly protested.  LibertyPhile, an anti-Muslim bigot who spends his free time spreading hatred of Muslims (one wonders how empty his personal life is that he kills his spare time doing this?), whined:

…The survey is of American Muslims, who are unlikely to be representative of Muslims in Muslim countries or of Muslims in Europe.

LibertyPhile is among a select group of Islamophobes who have compiled various poll results which portray Muslims in a negative light.  The operative logic is usually as follows: x% of Muslims believe it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians, and x% is a lot!

I agree that x% is a lot.  Even the 21% of Muslim-Americans who think it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians is unacceptably high.  Yet, the point that Islamophobes intentionally fail to mention is that this number is less–far less in this case–than the general public (including Jews and Christians). So while it’s absolutely atrocious that 21% of Muslim-Americans would think so, more than twice that percentage of Jewish- and Christian-Americans think so! This fact “steals their (the Islamophobes’) thunder,” so to speak.

With regard to LibertyPhile’s comment, the data we have from Muslim and European countries confirms that Muslims in general are less likely to justify the killing of civilians as compared to Jews and Christians in America.  Interestingly enough, LibertyPhile himself links to a site that references a poll that proves this!

LibertyPhile links to a website citing the Populus for Policy Exchange, a British study that found that between 7-16% of British Muslims think that it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians. This means that Jewish- and Christian Americans justify targeting and killing civilians 350% more than British Muslims.

LibertyPhile cites Pew Research Center.  Yet, Pew found the same results for French-Muslims: once again, only 16% of Muslims in France believe it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians.  Pew notes that this is the case for the Muslims in all the European countries they polled; says Pew (emphasis added):

Like Muslims elsewhere in Europe only a tiny minority of French Muslims (16%) say that suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets in defense of Islam can often or sometimes be justified.

Indeed, for Muslims in Germany that number is only 17% (according to a Pew poll), far less than the whopping 52% and 58% among American Jews and Christians, respectively.  According to the same poll, the percentage of Muslims in Spain is significantly higher, at 31%–which is still almost half of what it is for Christians in the United States.

The conclusion we draw from this is that Muslims in Western countries (such as United States, the U.K., France, Germany, and Spain) are far less likely than Jews and Christians in America to justify the targeting and killing of civilians.  This is quite the opposite of the picture that Islamophobes such as LibertyPhile paint.

What about Muslims in the Muslim-majority world?  Do they support the targeting and killing of civilians?  Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch published an article from CNS News, formerly called the Conservative News Service, which cited a Pew poll to prove that a sizable portion of the population did indeed support this.

Yet, even this source shows that support for the targeting and killing of civilians among Muslims in the Muslim world is still lower than what it is among Jews and Christians here in the United States. The article cited by Spencer reads:

In the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll released on Thursday, 68 percent of Palestinian Muslim respondents said suicide bombings against civilians were justifiable “to defend Islam from its enemies.”

That view was shared by 43 percent of respondents in Nigeria and 38 percent in Lebanon, where 51 percent of Shi’ites held the view compared to 25 percent of Sunnis.

Elsewhere, the proportion of Muslim respondents supporting suicide bombings against civilians was 15 percent in Egypt, 13 percent in Indonesia, 12 percent in Jordan, seven percent in Israel (Muslim Arab citizens), five percent in Pakistan and four percent in Turkey.

The Palestinians are split in between those inside of Israeli proper (1.5 million) and those in the Israeli Occupied Territories (4 million).  Using simple math (1.5×0.07+4×0.68)/(1.5+4)=0.51, we find that 51% of Palestinians overall think its sometimes justified to target and kill civilians.  On the the other hand, according to a Gallup poll 52% of Israelis think it is OK to target and kill civilians.

What we have then is:

Percentage of people who said it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians:

Mormon-Americans 64%
Christian-Americans 58%
Jewish-Americans 52%
Israeli Jews 52%
Palestinians* 51%
No religion/Atheists/Agnostics (U.S.A.) 43%
Nigerians* 43%
Lebanese* 38%
Spanish Muslims 31%
Muslim-Americans 21%
German Muslims 17%
French Muslims 16%
British Muslims 16%
Egyptians* 15%
Indonesians* 13%
Jordanians* 12%
Pakistanis* 5%
Turks* 4%

*refers to Muslims only

Therefore, Muslims in every country are less likely than U.S. Jews and Christians (and Israeli Jews) to believe that it is sometimes justified to target and kill civilians.

*  *  *  *  *

The recent Gallup poll shows us how important context is when it comes to statistics.  For several years, the Islamophobes such as LibertyPhile have been peddling statistics showing that an inordinate number of Muslims in various countries believe it is justifiable to target and kill civilians.  For example, they would say something along the lines of:

16% of British Muslims believe it is justified to target and kill civilians.  There are over 2.5 million Muslims in the U.K.  Sixteen percent of 2.5 million is a lot!  That’s how many Muslims there are who believe terrorism is OK.

This number of 16% is certainly alarming, but the Islamophobe needs to prove that Muslims are more accepting of violence than people of other faiths, especially their own Judeo-Christian faith.  In order to draw such a conclusion, there must be another value from the other group to compare it to.  That’s what the recent Gallup poll gives us: a number to compare the 16% to.  And certainly, 58% and 52% are far greater than 16%.

The need for context–and something fair to compare a statistic to–is reflected in other such Muslim-bashing “factoids” that Islamophobes like LibertyPhile peddle.  For example, the site LibertyPhile links to notes that x% of Muslims want Sharia.  Aside from the fact that Muslims have a whole variety of views about what Sharia means and entails, we need to compare x% with the percentage of Jews and Christians who want Halacha and Biblical law in Israel and America.  For the Islamophobes, doing so would steal their thunder.

Ranting and raving about how many Muslims think it’s sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians while your own religious group is worse really is a case of throwing stones living inside a glass house.  Throughout the Understanding Jihad Series, I have repeatedly harped on the overwhelming hypocrisy and double-standard Jewish and Christian Islamophobes use when they attack Islam.  More often than not, whatever they vilify in Islam is also found in their own religious faith.

*  *  *  *  *

The only worthwhile conclusion that we can draw from all this is that an unacceptable number of people in general–whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or even atheist/agnostic–think it’s OK to sometimes target and kill civilians.  This is a sobering thought, and should remind us that we should all work together to end war and bring peace to this earth.  The hateful and violent state of humanity–egged on by Islamophobes like Robert Spencer and LibertyPhile (as well as their counterparts in the Muslim world)–is truly disturbing.  Something is truly wrong when so many people–of every faith (as well as those of no faith)–believe it’s sometimes justified to take the life of an innocent human being.

My intention here is not to vilify Jews and Christians (see here).  It is only to prevent the line of thinking that has become endemic among us Americans: Those Foreign-Looking Moozlum People Over There are Evil and Wicked, Whereas We White Judeo-Christian People are Good and Holy.  Once it is acknowledged that we too have the same problem as they, we can draw not only a more accurate conclusion, but a more sensitive, tolerant, and helpful one.

Of course, it would be worthwhile to consider actual results on the ground: we Americans have (at minimum, using conservative numbers) killed 30 times as many Muslim civilians as Muslims have killed of ours, whereas Israelis have killed many-fold the number of civilians as Palestinians have killed of theirs.  Clearly, what people and states do is far more relevant than what they merely believe.

Dov Lior: Rabbi Who Supported the Murder of Babies Arrest Causes Firestorm in Israel

Posted in Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2011 by loonwatch
Wild Celebrations as Rabbi Dov Lior is Released from Prison

Where do we even begin with this one? We did a story on the Rabbi’s who penned and supported the work, “The King’s Teachings,” in which all manner of immoral actions are allowed in the name of security. At the time and since, nearly the entire religious establishment of Israel has supported the Rabbis, even if some have not given their explicit endorsement.

Do we have to ask, what if they were Muslim?

(Hat tip: Tony)

There is more at Haaretz as well about the reaction from parliamentarians who are outraged at the arrest of Lior.

Rabbi’s Arrest Provokes New Friction Between Religion And Government In Israel

(Huffington Post)

JERUSALEM — The arrest of a prominent Israeli settler rabbi who endorsed a book sanctioning the killing of non-Jews under some conditions is sharpening the battle lines between some Jewish religious sages and the Israeli government.

After Rabbi Dov Lior, spiritual leader of the radical Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank, was detained and brought in for police questioning, hundreds of his followers, most of them teenagers, went on a rampage. Other rabbis fulminated against the idea that a rabbi could be arrested at all.

On the other side, secular Israelis complained that some rabbis in Israel think they are above the law.

Lior, a longtime symbol of religious and nationalist extremism, was brought in for questioning Monday after his car was stopped on a West Bank road. Lior, who was freed after a brief interrogation, accused officers of “Bolshevik” tactics.

Joining critics of his own government’s action, the Minister of Religious Affairs, Yaakov Margi, raged that the rabbi, who is in his late 70s, was “abducted on his way to Jerusalem like the lowest criminal.”

Lior was brought in Monday after ignoring a series of official police orders to report for interrogation.

His arrest angered supporters as a mark of disrespect for a venerated scholar.

Hundreds of disciples tried to block the road to the entrance to the city, snarling traffic at afternoon rush hour. Others tried to attack the Supreme Court. Hundreds besieged the home of a government official they thought was responsible for the arrest warrant.

The warrant had been pending for months in connection with a preface Lior wrote in support of a book, “The King’s Teachings.” The book quotes some religious sages as permitting, under certain conditions, the killing of non-Jews, including babies, “if there is a good chance they will grow up to be like their evil parents.”

Police wanted to question Lior over the possibility that his endorsement of the book was incitement to murder.

Backers accused authorities of assaulting Lior’s freedom of speech and complained that inflammatory statements by leftists against nationalist Israelis did not draw similar sanctions.

Critics of Lior and his camp saw a sign that some rabbis and their followers believe that secular law does not apply to them.

“Those who favor freedom of expression will of course find it difficult to accept as self evident the arrest of a person, any persona, for things that he said or wrote,” read an editorial in Wednesday’s Haaretz newspaper.

“But from the moment that the police decided to summon Rabbi Dov Lior to an investigation, he should have reported, even if he is firmly opposed to doing so, and taken advantage of every legitimate way of protesting against the claims against him,” Haaretz wrote, calling for Lior’s dismissal from his official, state-paid positions.

The Jerusalem Post wrote it was not clear that Lior committed a crime.

“He has, however, placed his rabbinic reputation behind a morally repugnant book” with “far-reaching and horrid implications, particularly in wartime settings,” the newspaper said.

Lior told reporters afterward that he ignored the police orders to report for questioning because he considered them illegitimate.

Although respected in the religious nationalist community, Lior’s teachings and commentaries have made him a polarizing figure in Israel for decades.

Following a shooting attack on a Jerusalem seminary in 2008, he ruled that Jewish law forbids employing and renting homes to Palestinians. He also praised Baruch Goldstein, the American immigrant doctor who massacred 29 Palestinians at a religious shrine in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994.

Some rabbis have repudiated “The King’s Teachings,” which doesn’t explicitly mention Arabs or Palestinians.

On Wednesday, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported that a sequel to “The King’s Teachings” was in the works. Its author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, said he has sold more than 2,000 additional copies of “The King’s Teachings” since Lior’s arrest.

Shapira was arrested briefly for questioning about the book last year. No one has been charged.

Breaking News: Benjamin Netanyahu’s Son Hates Islam and Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Can I just say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Imagine if this had been a Muslim leaders son and he said something similar? Now Bibi is crying for context and understanding, sad.

Yair Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister’s Son, Creates Facebook Ruckus With Arab, Muslim Posts

JERUSALEM — The Israeli prime minister’s 19-year-old son posted disparaging comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page, an Israeli paper reported Friday

Earlier this year, Yair Netanyahu posted that Muslims “celebrate hate and death,” the Haaretz daily reported. After Palestinian assailants entered a West Bank settlement and stabbed five members of an Israeli family to death, he wrote that “terror has a religion and it is Islam.”

Yair Netanyahu, the eldest of the prime minister’s two sons, is currently a soldier in the Israeli military’s media liaison unit.

A lawyer for the Netanyahu family, David Shimron, said the comments were those of a “teenager” and were “taken out of context in an attempt to defame the prime minister and his family,” Shimron said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

According to the Haaretz report, the prime minister’s son also ran a Facebook group that called for a boycott of Arab businesses and products, and used obscenities to describe Arabs. He was 17 at the time. The group had a total of 23 members, the paper reported.

In another comment, he wrote that there had never been a Palestinian state and that he hoped “there would never be one.”

Haaretz said the comments in question were removed within two hours of the paper’s request for a response from the prime minister’s representatives.

The younger Netanyahu’s Facebook page also included comments on the Israeli version of the TV show Big Brother and a “like” directed at Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, alongside photos of himself with world leaders like Bill Clinton and Silvio Berlusconi.

A military spokesman said commanders had spoken to Netanyahu “to clarify to the soldier the military commands, outlining his mistakes, as would be done with any soldier in a similar situation.”

Some of the comments predated his military service, the military said.

Shimron, the Netanyahu family’s attorney, slammed Haaretz for reporting the comments.

“Bringing them up now is ridiculous and shows the cynical use of the words of a teenager, said in anger, when he could not imagine that someone would someday make use of them,” the lawyer wrote.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife believe in moderation and tolerance, and they respect all people without regard for their religion, origin or nationality and that is how they raise their children,” the statement said.

The families of Israeli leaders have typically been kept out of the spotlight, but Netanyahu’s family has sometimes drawn media attention in ways that have been a liability for the Israeli leader.

Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s third wife, has been criticized for allegedly mistreating her household staff and for meddling in state affairs. She has denied the accusations.

David Horowitz: “Islam is Religion of Hate…Palestinians are Morally Sick”

Posted in Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by loonwatch
David Horowitz

David Horowitz, founder and editor of FrontPageMag as well as Robert Spencer’s financier and boss is at it again, targeting Palestinians and Islam. Horowitz said of the Palestinians,

“No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians”, adding, “In the history of all mankind, there was never a people who strapped bombs on their bodies and killed innocent people. No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians, and everyone is afraid to say it.”

About Islam Horowitz was likewise unrestrained, describing Islam as a religion possessed by,

“hate, violence and racism”,

This is the radical anti-Muslim and racist anti-Palestinian agenda that drives both Horowitz and Spencer. While Spencer’s anti-Muslim and anti-Islam animus is clear and copiously documented it is unknown whether he shares the same opinion about Palestinians/Arabs as his boss. What is certain however is that Spencer does not mind these statements, nor does he condemn them and therefore he is complicit in his boss’s hateful rhetoric about Arabs.

The full article can be read at Israel National News,

FrontPage Editor at Bklyn College: Palestinians are Morally Sick

by Fern Sidman, INN New York Correspondent

David Horowitz,  conservative commentator, prolific author and founder of theFrontPage Mag web site, spoke out  in response to ongoing Israeli Apartheid Week on campus. A full house gathered at the Brooklyn College library auditorium on Thursday evening,  under exceptionally heavy security, to hear him.

The speech, delivered one day before the barbaricmassacre of five members of the Fogel family on Friday night in Itamar, became tragically prescient..

Describing the Palestinians, Horowitz said:  ”No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians”, adding, “In the history of all mankind, there was never a people who strapped bombs on their bodies and killed innocent people. No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians, and everyone is afraid to say it.”

Describing Islam as a religion possessed by “hate, violence and racism”, he said that a resolution to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio could is not beyond reach. “If you disarm the Palestinians in the Middle East there will be peace, but if you disarm the Jews, there wil be further death and destruction.”

“Racism Originated in the Torah” say Israeli Rabbis

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by loonwatch

Racism from high ranking Rabbis across Israel who are stating that racism is a part of Judaism and Jews shouldn’t rent apartments to Arabs. Imagine if they were Muslim?

We must also take note of those voices speaking out against such rhetoric and pronouncements because many are opposed to the language used by these Rabbis.

Top rabbis move to forbid renting homes to Arabs, say ‘Israel belongs to Jews’

(Haaretz)

A number of leading rabbis who signed on to a religious ruling to forbid renting homes to gentiles – a move particularly aimed against Arabs – defended their decision on Tuesday with the declaration that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews.

Dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis signed on to the ruling, which comes just months after the chief rabbi of Safed initiated a call urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews.

Signatories include the chief rabbis of Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Letzion, Carmiel, Gadera, Afula, Nahariya, Herzliya, Nahariya and Pardes Hannah, among a number of other cities.

“We don’t need to help Arabs set down roots in Israel,” Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of the Beit El settlement, said on Tuesday. Aviner explained that he supported the move for two reasons: one, a Jew looking for an apartment should get preference over a gentile; and two, to keep the growing Arab population from settling too deeply.

“Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva. “The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the [sage] Rashi interpreted.”

He added that he did not see the move as racist so much as segregationist. “The world is so big and the State of Israel is small, that God intended it for the people of Israel and the whole world covets it. That is the injustice.”

Upon news of the religious ruling, Meretz faction whip Ilan Ghilon immediately asked the attorney general to dismiss each of the rabbis who had signed their names.

“We are witnessing an epidemic of racism and xenophobia and we must act firmly,” he said.

Deputy Knesset chairman MK Ahmed Tibi decried the letter as a “mass crime [committed] by a group of racist rabbis who should be given intensive course in Jewish history.”

The entire group should be tried for “incitement to racism,” added Tibi, “Muslim clerics have recently been tried or fired from their jobs for much less but the rabbis are able to pursue their unruly behavior without concern.

Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav termed the ruling the “real desecration of God’s name. It is bringing hatred against those with whom we have chosen to live our lives.”

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy also decried the moving, declaring that “whoever thinks it damages one side is mistaken. We are all children of the land. Both nations must search for common ground and not bring about escalation.”

In their ruling, the rabbis called on the religious community to voice support Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who could face trial for incitement against Arabs for initiating the move against renting to gentiles.

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman has also asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to begin the process of suspending Eliyahu immediately from his post as municipal rabbi.

Politicos from the national religious sector believe that the mass of prominent figures who signed on to the ruling – all of whose salaries are paid by public funds – will send a message to the attorney general to take Eliyahu’s position seriously.

The rabbis’ letter prompted by Eliyahu, which was first published months ago and reprinted in October, urges Jewish owners of apartments to reconsider renting their properties to Arabs since it would deflate the value of their homes as well as those in the neighborhood.

“Their way of life is different than that of Jews,” the letter stated. “Among [the gentiles] are those who are bitter and hateful toward us and who meddle into our lives to the point where they are a danger.”

The rabbis also urge neighbors of anyone renting or selling property to Arabs to caution that person. After delivering the warning, the neighbor is then encouraged to issue notices to the general public and inform the community.

“The neighbors and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed,” the letter reads.

 

Safed: Racism and Violence against Palestinians; What if they Were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by loonwatch
Safed

Safed, a town that before the creation of Israel used to be a mixed majority Arab and minority Jewish neighborhood has become the scene of Orthodox Jews attacking Palestinian students claiming that they are undermining the Jewish character of Safed. Imagine if they were Muslims who were attacking Jews or Christians because they were “undermining the Muslim character” of a city?

Allegations of racism and questions about a town’s character

By Joel Greenberg

(Washington Post)

In the winding stone alleys of this Galilee hill town, a centuries-old center of Jewish mysticism, a campaign is underway.

It is being waged by the town rabbi, Shmuel Eliahu, who along with other area rabbis issued a religious ruling several months ago forbidding residents to rent apartments to Israeli Arab students from the local community college.

The rabbi has warned that the Jewish character of Safed, long revered as sacred, is at risk and that intermarriages could follow if the students mingle with the locals.

Last month, Eliahu called a public meeting to sound the alarm. On the agenda was “the quiet war,” a reference to the feared Arab influx, and “fighting assimilation in the holy city of Safed.”

Several days later, a building that houses Arab students was attacked by a group of young Jews, and an elderly Holocaust survivor renting a room to students received threats.

To civil rights advocates and other critics, the unsettling developments in this normally quiet community of 32,000 are a window into ugly currents of racism in Israeli society. The events here, the critics say, reflect a general atmosphere of growing intolerance under a government and parliament dominated by parties of the nationalist right.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that public attitudes have been legitimized by proposals in parliament that send a message of exclusion to Israeli Arabs. One bill authorizes rural Jewish communities to review applications for residence on the basis of social and cultural compatibility, language that critics say is code for keeping out Arabs.

But people in Safed dismiss the accusations of racism, saying that the issue is a culture clash between rowdy Arab students and the city’s strictly religious Jews who feel that their way of life is being threatened.

In a city park next to a college building on a recent afternoon, “Death to Arabs” was scrawled on a gatepost. The park is a hangout for the Arab students, who were scattered on benches during a break between classes.

Nasrat Ghadban, a student from the village of Arrabeh, said that he had been trying to find an apartment to rent in Safed but that his phone inquiries were repeatedly turned down.

Similar accounts were heard from other Arab students, who make up about half of the student population at the school, the Tzfat Academic College. Because of a shortage of dormitory space, many Arab students commute from their villages. Some who have found apartments in Safed said they have recently felt uneasy walking the streets and preferred to stay in at night, fearing run-ins with religious Jewish youths.

Last month, a group of young Jewish men attacked apartments of Arab students near the old city of Safed. An indictment against two of the assailants said that before the attack, the group had talked about an increasing presence of Arabs in town and their alleged harassment of local Jewish women.

The mob gathered outside a building housing Arab students, shouted “Death to Arabs!” and “Stinking Muslims!” and hurled stones and bottles, smashing a window, according to the indictment. The Arab students threw stones back, and a shot was fired by one of the Jewish youth. He and the other indicted youth were charged with racist incitement, rioting and vandalism.

Eliahu Zvieli, an 89-year-old resident of the old city who rents a room to three Arab students, said he had received numerous phone calls and visits, including from Rabbi Eliahu, urging him to remove his tenants. One caller threatened to burn down Zvieli’s house, he said. A sign was posted on the gate calling the Arabs’ presence “a shameful disgrace.”

Zvieli, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who endured forced-labor and prisoner-of-war camps, said he was not fazed. “I’ve been through a few things, and I’m handling it,” he said. “You can’t surrender to terror.”

Across the street at his food stand, Yosef Pe’er, bearded with a large knitted skullcap, said that providing housing for Arab students in the heart of the old city, where many strictly Orthodox and newly observant Jews live, is a provocation.

“This place has a particular character, and it’s preferable that it remain Jewish,” he said. Arab students drive by in cars blaring loud music on Friday night, during the Jewish Sabbath, and generally “don’t respect where they are,” Pe’er said.

Safed’s mayor, Ilan Shohat, said the students were “behaving like they were back in their villages.” He said the municipality had received complaints from religious residents after Sabbath weekends of disruptive behavior by students, ranging from playing loud music to smoking a hookah opposite a synagogue and badgering young women.

“Safed is not a racist city at all,” Shohat said. “There’s a cultural problem, which because of the Jewish-Arab divide in Israeli society, is interpreted by the residents as a provocation.”

Arab students denied the allegations of inappropriate behavior, saying that most stay home on weekends and that those in town were often at work at hotels, replacing Jewish employees who were off Saturdays. Some students noted that they had warm relations with their Jewish landlords, who they said treated them like family.

On the streets of Safed, memorial plaques commemorate Jewish fighters killed in the town during Israel’s war of independence in 1948. Safed’s Arab majority fled the fighting, changing it from a mixed city to a Jewish one. The sign plastered on the home of Zvieli, the man threatened for renting to Arab students, accused him of “returning Arabs to Safed.”

Yisrael Lee, an architect and a neighbor, said that the past still hangs heavy over the town. “Memories here are strong,” he said.

Greenberg is a special correspondent.

———————————————–

In the meantime here is an excellent video exploring what it feels like being in the shoes of a Palestinian.

Note: This article is part of our “What if they were Muslim?” series. In this series, we examine the double standards used by anti-Muslim activists when discussing religious extremism in Islam as compared to other religions. We reject using extremists of any religion to justify prejudice, stereotypes, and hostility towards all members of that religion. Period.