Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called Sunday on Jewish Israelis to boycott Arab stores and services in Wadi Ara in the wake of a stone-throwing incident there Saturday evening following a protest against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Those people don’t belong in Israel,” he told Reshet Bet. “They must be part of the Palestinian Authority; there they can get unemployment benefits and idleness benefits. They are part of Ramallah. They have no connection to the State of Israel, and I call on the citizens of the State of Israel simply to boycott Wadi Ara.”
“One shouldn’t go into the stores or receive any services,” Liberman said. “These people work to harm the State of Israel; they work against the State of Israel from within our midst... these people have to understand they are not wanted here.”
A bus driver and two passengers were lightly wounded by stones thrown at the Arara Junction on Route 65 after nightfall Saturday. Dozens of people threw stones at police and at other vehicles, according to Yediot Aharonot photographer Gil Nechushtan, who was at the scene and said he narrowly escaped “being lynched.” Earlier, during the demonstration, protesters briefly blocked Route 65 in the southern direction before being cleared without incident, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Other protests in Arab towns on Saturday ended peacefully.
In response to Liberman’s boycott call, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said: “Liberman is the representative of fascist regimes in the extremist government of Netanyahu. The call for a boycott against citizens just because of their national and religious origin remind us of dark regimes in human history. The idea that such a person is responsible for the security of the state has to worry every sane person.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said at press time it had no comment on Liberman’s remark. Housing Minister Yoav Gallant issued a statement of his own in the same vain as Liberman, suggesting that Arab MKs might find themselves removed to Palestinian Authority areas.
Israeli security forces use crowd dispersal methods against Palestinian protestors in Jerusalem, December 9, 2017 (Seth Frantzman)
When Reshet Bet interviewer Aryeh Golan suggested to Liberman that one cannot generalize about all Wadi Ara residents from the behavior of the stone throwers, Liberman responded that thousands of people had participated in July in the funeral of the Umm el-Fahm gunmen who killed two policemen at the entrance to the Temple Mount, also known as al-Haram al-Sharif.
“Let us not delude ourselves,” he said. “We are talking about people who act against Israel, who are incited against Israel. All that they learn in their schools is to hate Israel. Therefore, they have to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of an exchange of territory in which Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev are annexed.”
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel interpreted Liberman’s remarks as a call to cancel the citizenship of Israeli Arabs.
“We want to remind the minister of defense that the appropriate framework for dealing with violence during protest events is investigation and indictment of those who violated the law,” it said. “This racist and inciting statement sullies an entire public. The message it transmits is extremely grave, that in the eyes of a minister of the government of all the citizens of Israel, forced cancellation of the citizenship of Arabs appears to be a legitimate means.”
Sami Abu Shehadeh, a member of the Joint List’s Balad party central committee and former member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council, said: “There is nothing surprising about the racism of Liberman. But the issue is that none of the ministers or the prime minister thought that this was racist and that they should condemn it. This means that Liberman is representing not just his racist view, he’s representing the views of the extreme right wing government that is deteriorating Israeli society into being a fascist society.”
MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union) called on Liberman “to apologize to many of Wadi Ara’s Arab residents who do not throw stones or incite and even work for a shared life in the state of Israel. There are stray weeds who deserve to be condemned and to sit in jail but generalizing about all the residents of Wadi Ara and turning them into enemies doesn’t add anything and harms the security of Israel.”