The hashtag #Arab_Lives_Matter, alongside its Arabic and Hebrew translations, has been gaining traction on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, targeted at raising awareness of the continual shootings and killings that are plaguing Arab communities in Israel.
“Should have been obvious that ALL lives matter, including Arab lives, but apparently it is not,” posted Mira Awad, Arab-Israeli singer, actress and songwriter, after three Arab citizens were killed in the previous 24 hours in shootings across the country. “And here we are, yet another murdered Arab citizen of Israel.”
The Abraham Initiatives group, an organization of Jewish and Arab citizens working to create a shared, functioning and integrative society, fashioned a symbol for the movement which many are retweeting. Thousands used the hashtag over the past day, making the term trend on Twitter by Wednesday morning.
“Meretz joins the protest and commits to acting from within the government to stop the lawlessness,” reads a post by the left-wing party. “We won’t stop until we put an end to this.”
Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev also tweeted the hashtag.
“Decades of neglect, ignorance and fear of confronting the issues in the Arab communities, along with the assumption that ‘as long as they’re killing each other, it’s their problem,’” wrote Bar Lev. “In my first hundred days in office, I have done more to deal with the crime in the Arab sector than has been done in the past several decades.”
עשרות שנים של הזנחה, התעלמות ופחד להיכנס לעובי הקורה של בעיות המגזר הערבי, וההנחה שרווחה ש״כל עוד הם הורגים אחד את השני, אז זו בעיה שלהם״. ב100 ימי הראשונים בתפקיד עשיתי יותר משנעשה בעשרות השנים האחרונות בהתמודדות עם הפשיעה במגזר הערבי.כן, #חיי_ערבים_חשובים #Arab_Lives_Matter>>— עמר בר-לב (@omerbarlev) September 21, 2021
Likud spokesman Eli Hazan responded to the hashtag trend by posting on social media: “All lives matter.” Other Twitter users used the phrase alongside “Jewish lives matter” in Hebrew, while others responded in fury and used the hashtag in irony or resentment.
“The State of Israel has a responsibility to solve this, but so does the public, including the Arab community and its leaders,” said Yaya Fink, CEO of Darkenu. Activists of the 420,000-strong community protested this morning in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Tel Aviv, carrying a coffin marked with the words: “A good Arab is a living Arab.” The statement comes to negate a well-known racial slur, “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” and protests how the Israeli community and leadership seem to choose to be powerless bystanders while the crime rates soar.
“Eighty-eight murder victims from the beginning of the year is an unbelievable number,” says Fink. “Our country knows how to handle incredibly complex situations, like bringing in the Iranian nuclear archives or demolishing tunnel infrastructures in Gaza. Our country can definitely confiscate the illegal weapons in the Arab community.”
אם אנחנו יודעים להביא את הארכיון של הגרעין האיראני, לתפוס אוניות נשק בלב ים, לחסל את פרויקט המנהור העזתי ולמצוא 6 אסירים נמלטים תוך ימים ספורים, אנחנו יכולים לאסוף את הנשק הבלתי חוקי בחברה הערבית,#חיי_ערבים_חשובים#ArabLivesMatterזאת היהדות שלי— yayafink (יאיא פינק) (@yayafink) September 21, 2021
Darkenu, comprised mostly of Jewish activists but with a growing representation of Arab participants, is joining hands with groups like the Abraham Initiatives as well as student unions to try to raise this issue to the top of the national interest.
“This is where we are tested as a Jewish and democratic state,” says Fink. “In our attitude toward the minorities living among us. I say this as a religious man as well. We’re certain that if such a thing were to happen in the Jewish community, a lot more resources would have been put forth toward this issue.”
The police announced on Wednesday morning that over 1,000 weapons have been confiscated over the past nine months in the northern district.
Still, security forces have been unable to contain or even reduce the wave of shooting incidents, which have reached multiple deaths per week. A volunteer police officer in his 30s was run over Tuesday and died of his wounds; the driver was arrested and is suspected of murder and attempted murder. Two men were shot to death on the eve of Yom Kippur, in addition to two more on Tuesday.
“Chaos reigns unchecked,” tweeted Furat Nassar in a video showing a man firing several shots in the air in the middle of a crowded street in Nazareth in broad daylight. “Where are the police?”
“This is one of the country’s most significant moral tests,” concluded Fink. “This must be one of the top priorities of the new government.”