Rightist rally warns against Arabs 'defiling Jewish girls'

People protest to "keep Bat Yam Jewish" and against trend of Jewish girls dating Arabs; activists hold opposition rally condemning racism.

bat yam rally_311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
bat yam rally_311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Hundreds gathered at a demonstration in Bat Yam on Monday evening to protest the presence of Arab residents in the suburb south of Tel Aviv, and to warn against what they said was a worrying trend of Arabs “defiling” Jewish girls there and across Israel.
Posters advertising the protest said “The Arabs are taking over Bat Yam, buying and renting apartments from Jews and taking Jewish girls, whom they defile.” They also stated that “15,000 Jewish girls have been taken to [Arab] villages!” and “What would you do if an Arab man hit on your sister? We’ll put an end to this!”
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The crowd included young men waving flags saying “Kahane lives” – referring to assassinated far-right rabbi Meir Kahane – and school kids wearing shirts saying “Bat Yam is Jewish” and “The Jews have returned for eternity,” who danced the hora while chanting “Arabs out!”
A few dozen Bat Yam residents were also there. Most were high school boys leaning against a street railing. Occasionally, protesters chanted “Death to the Arabs,” but they were admonished by the speakers. One particularly popular slogan was “The girls of Israel for the people of Israel,” appearing on signs and heard in chants.
Far-right MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) attended the rally with his aide and fellow activist Itamar Ben-Gvir in tow. Ben-Ari said he had come “to see the Jews who are standing up for themselves. We are standing before a disaster, and our politicians are more concerned with ideas like democracy, ideas that our enemies exploit in order to attack the State of Israel.”
Moshe Ben-Zikri, a community administrator from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, who recently waged a campaign against the quarter’s Arab residents, told The Jerusalem Post, “Today, the Arab enemy is taking over all over Israel. They act innocent, they say we’re only here to rent an apartment, and then they take over house by house. Our girls fall victim to their temptation. Not only that, but crime and drugs, all of it comes with the Arabs; none of that stuff takes place in a Jewish area until the Arabs come.”
Ben-Zikri said Arabs posed a special threat to innocent Jewish girls, who were easy prey.
“These Arabs, they speak Hebrew, they look just like us and they tempt our women,” he said. “Some guy named Arafat says his name is Ofer, and so on. Our girls don’t know these guys are Arab and they fall victim to them and families are destroyed. They [the Arabs] don’t have to kill people to destroy families.”
Tom Mahager, a spokesman for Abraham Fund Initiatives, which works to bridge gaps between Jews and Arabs in Israel, said the protest showed that racist demonstrations “are only growing and spreading in Israel. There isn’t enough enforcement against actions like this.”
Mahager added that such actions gained legitimacy from the proposed loyalty oath and the recent rabbis’ letter calling for a ban on property sales and rentals to non-Jews.
Mahager also slammed the silence of local leaders, saying that “Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiyani must say we are not a racist city, Bat Yam is not a racist city and we don’t accept these guests as legitimate.”
A counter-protest was held a few hundred meters away, where several dozen demonstrators chanted such slogans as “Bat Yam: A city for everyone” and “Down with racism.” One protester there held a sign reading, “I love Arabs, ask me how,” while another placard showed a picture of a smiling couple under the words “I married an Arab!”
Barak Sella, a 25-year-old organizer for the southern branch of left-wing youth group Hano’ar Ha’oved Vehalomed, said he had come with several other group members “in order to show our opposition to the other protest, but also to get across our message of unity, which is that we will keep Bat Yam Jewish and democratic.”