Representatives of the Tag Meir activist group gathered Thursday night at the home of Suhad Abu-Zmiro, a victim of a recent suspected racist assault, in order to express their solidarity with her.
Abu-Zmiro, a teacher in a Jewish middle school in Ramat Hasharon, was attacked by several religious youths in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe as she exited a car along with a Jewish colleague at the beginning of March.
After noticing that Abu-Zmiro wore a hijab, the teenagers reportedly threw rocks and other objects at the car, broke the windshield, screamed racist obscenities and spat at the two teachers.
Several members of the Sha’ar Hagolan kibbutz in northern Israel heard of the incident and contacted Tag Meir, an anti-racism association, in order to organize a visit to Abu-Zmiro’s home in the village of Kalansaweh, just north of Tel Aviv.
Two residents of Kiryat Moshe, Yossi and Yehudit Yinan also made the journey to Kalansaweh to apologize for the incident in the name of the neighborhood.
“This was a desecration of God’s name,” said Yehudit.
“We have a responsibility to our children, our teachers and our neighborhood.”
Abu-Zmiro thanked the group of approximately 40 people for their visit, saying, “My father taught us to love all people as they are, that everyone is equal, Jews and Arabs.”
“I decided to teach in a Jewish school so that Jewish children should get to know an Arab woman in a personal way so that barriers can be broken.”
Abu-Zmiro is the first Arab teacher in the school. She and her colleague Revital Valkov had been in the capital in order to visit their school’s principal, who was sitting the shiva mourning period when the attack occurred.
“It was a shocking and humiliating incident,” Abu- Zmiro recalled. “To think about the fact that you have been attacked just because you are Arab is not easy; it’s not simple.”
She described the Tag Meir visit as very moving and said that it was encouraging and reassuring that there were people who oppose racism.
“Education is the way to combat this phenomenon,” Abu-Zmiro told The Jerusalem Post.
“Education in school and at home needs to teach that everyone was created by one God, that we need to be able to live together, and that this is not a way to believe, not in Judaism and not in Islam because everyone is equal.”
Ron Kronish, the director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel and a Tag Meir activist, denounced the incident and the wider phenomenon of racist attacks.
“These hate crimes have been perpetrated by Jewish people who have committed many incidents which demonstrate insidious anti-Arab hatred and anti-leftwing hatred,” said Kronish.
According to police, the teenagers were from a local yeshiva high school.
Three teenage boys were arrested four days after the incident on suspicion of carrying out the attack, while two others turned themselves in.