PM on J'lem 'lynch': We will not tolerate racism

Netanyahu claims strong Israeli condemnation of racist attack against Arab youth sets country apart from its neighbors.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Condemnation rained down from across the political spectrum on Tuesday over the mob attack last week against 17- year-old Jamal Julani in downtown Jerusalem. The Ras al-Amud resident was beaten unconscious by around a dozen Jewish teenagers late Thursday night in Zion Square.
An additional teenage girl, aged 17, was arrested on Tuesday night. Eight Jewish teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19, three of them female, were arrested over the past four days in connection with the beating. On Tuesday, the Jerusalem District Court released one 15-year-old girl to house arrest.
The 13-year-old suspect, who police believe was the first to hit Julani, shocked the courtroom yesterday as he told reporters he hoped Julani dies because he is Arab. “He insulted my mom,” the youth said as he was led by police to his hearing. “So I caught him and beat him. I hit him and I hope he gets it again. I hope he dies. You can't go by Damascus Gate without getting stabbed. So why do they come here? I beat him, and I’d beat him again. I’m not sorry for what I did,” he said. On Tuesday he refused to speak to reporters at his lawyers’ urging.
Three additional suspects, two of whom were arrested on Monday, had remand hearings at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Tuesday and will be in custody for the next six days. Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said that police expect additional arrests over the coming days, as the entire event was recorded by surveillance cameras.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sharply condemned the attack on the Arab youths, adding that the country’s abhorrence to such acts – as witnessed by the way the country’s leaders and others have strongly come out against it – sets Israel apart from other countries in its neighborhood.
15-year-old Jerusalem youth suspected of lynch
15-year-old Jerusalem youth suspected of lynch
“The State of Israel is a democratic state, an enlightened state, a state where when we come across acts such as these, the entire state and all of its leaders come out together against such phenomena, and we will continue to do so,” Netanyahu said.
“That is what makes us unique in the environment around us and this will continue to make us unique. I hope that one day our environment will change as well. But we will be persistent in our complete opposition to racism and violence,” he said.
Netanyahu’s comments came at a ceremony where he signed a document encouraging the integration of Ethiopian immigrants and against discrimination and racism.
“We are not prepared to tolerate racism in Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Neither are we prepared to tolerate the combination of racism and violence.”
Netanyahu, who said he spoke with Hadassah Medical Organization Director General Ehud Kokia to inquire about the victims of the attack, said that such acts were “something that we cannot accept – not as Jews, not as Israelis. This is not our way; this goes against our way, and we condemn it in word and deed. We will quickly bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible incident.”
This was the second incident of violence against Arabs that Netanyahu has sharply condemned this week. His office issued three different statements since the fire bomb attack on a Palestinian taxi in Gush Etzion Thursday noting the prime minister’s condemnation of that attack.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar instructed teachers to discuss the beating of an Arab by Jewish teens in Jerusalem on the first day of school next Sunday.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem to prepare for the new school year on Tuesday, Sa’ar said the event is “very serious, in terms of both violence and racism.”
“The large number of teens who participated in the event adds to my concern,” he said.
“The education system must have a say and clearly and sharply discuss values in relation to this issue.” An Education Ministry spokesman said neither a specific set of points nor a text was given to teachers, but they are expected to bring up the topics of violence and racism in class, and hold a discussion with their students in homeroom, rather than teach it in the context of history or civics.
Ronen Avniely, the deputy commander of the Lev Habira police station said on Monday that they believe one girl “was inciting the rest of the group.”
According to the girl’s lawyer, the youths began singing racist songs and chanting anti-Arab slogans in Hatulot Square, where they encountered a group of four Arab teenagers.
The girl’s lawyer said she was present for that part but did not take part in the violence.
“They were looking to hurt an Arab,” Avniely said. He added that the suspects had given them a number of different versions of the events, and some claimed that the Arabs were harassing them.
Avnieli added that they believe around 10 Jewish teenagers attacked Julani, though there were many more witnesses, and that the “teenagers intended to beat him to death.” Police also said that the Julani had a heart defect, which could have been one of the reasons he was lost consciousness during the beating.
Eyewitnesses said approximately two dozen Jewish teenagers surrounded Julani and began beating him, continuing to kick him even after he fell unconscious to the ground.