Chanting “God is Great” and waving the green flags of the Israel Islamic Movement, around 50 activists gathered outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on Thursday, to protest an anti-Islamic film that has inflamed passions across the region.

Attorney Zahi Nujeidat, spokesman for the Islamic Movement, said Thursday that the protesters came from across Israel to the embassy to “express our rage about this despicable movie that has harmed the honor of our prophet.”



Nujeidat said he and the protesters did not see the movie Innocence of Muslims as merely the creation of a single individual, rather a direct result of US policy in the Muslim world.

“We are protesting here because US policy, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, is directly responsible for inspiring people to express this hatred towards Muslims and Islam,” he said.

While the riots have so far taken the life of the US ambassador to Libya and seen violent disturbances in cities across the Arab world, the protest Thursday was a decidedly mellow, beachside Tel Aviv happening.

The crowd stood on the promenade with signs criticizing the US in English, Hebrew and Arabic, while across the street about a dozen Tel Aviv police officers watched along with a small contingent of embassy security personnel.

All the while, shirtless bike riders and beachfront joggers cruised past the protesters, who dispersed peacefully after about an hour in the sun.

Israeli-Arab MKs also voiced their anger at the film on Thursday.

“Zionist elements” are to blame for increasing hatred and fear of Islam, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al) said on Thursday, in reaction to rioting over the film.

“This is an abomination and a desecration of God’s name,” a-Sanaa stated.

“Whoever made this is playing with fire.”

The UAL-Ta’al MK said whoever is responsible for the film does not understand the role Muhammad plays in the individual and collective identity of Muslims.

He added that “Zionist elements” are trying increase Islamophobia “out of political considerations.”

“Western countries are to blame, because they encourage the demonization of Muslims and Islam,” a-Sanaa said. “The UN should intervene and stop the wave [of violence], or there will be a world war.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) asked YouTube to remove the video, saying that it offended the sensitivities and faith of hundreds of millions of people around the world, and the clip’s removal could stem the current violence and anger.

Tibi condemned the murder of US Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and the attacks on American consulates.

“What is the connection between the American people and a group of bizarre people who produced a pathetic video? There is no connection, and we cannot make generalizations,” he said.

Tibi called the video “despicable and contemptible, meant to light bonfires of hate while there are waves of Islamophobia in the West.”

“The response to the video may not be violent or brutal,” he added. “The principles of Islam are clear, and do not allow outbursts of violence, and nothing justifies murder.” Tibi said people should ignore the video, and violent responses are only playing into the hands of its creators.

MK Yariv Levin (Likud) called for Tibi and a-Sanaa to be removed from the Knesset, saying that they are trying to incite Israeli-Arabs into starting a religious war.

“They are directly responsible for any violence that could happen as a result of their words,” he said. “Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein should immediately take action against them before they cause a serious wave of violence.

MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu) said “Tibi and his friends forgot that they are supposed to represent the State of Israel and continue to serve as messengers of terrorist organizations.” Miller added that the MKs’ words could lead to rioting like in Libya, and said they are strengthening al-Qaida.

“I have never heard these hypocrites condemn anti-Israel films,” he stated.

“They preach about democracy and equality, so I would like to remind them that freedom of artistic expression is an integral part of democracy.”

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