CMEP Bulletin: Hate Crime in Jerusalem, U.S. Calls Settler Violence “Terrorism”
weekly news update from Churches for Middle East Peace
Last week’s bulletin analyzed the growing problem of settler violence after a firebomb attack in the West Bank injured six Palestinians, including two children. Hours later in Jerusalem, another brutal hate crime was committed by Israeli youth that left an Arab teen in a coma. These events sparked a national conversation on ways to end the violence epidemic among extremist Israelis.
Late at night on August 16 in Jerusalem’s crowded Zion Square, 40 young Israelis chased several Palestinian Arab youths from East Jerusalem while shouting “Death to Arabs” and other racial epithets. One of the Arabs, 17 year-old Jamal Julani, fell while trying to run away and at least ten Israelis beat and kicked him until he was unconscious. While police say none of the hundreds of bystanders intervened to stop the beating, one young Israeli medical student saved Julani’s life after the attackers ran off. The hero told Yedioth Ahronoth, “From the moment that Jamal was on the ground I was right there beside him, giving him CPR. He lost his pulse twice and I restored it.” Julani remained in a coma for two days and is now recovering in the hospital.
By Monday, August 20, seven Israeli teens were in custody for what police and witnesses are calling an attempted lynching. New York Times writer Isabel Kershner reports that the event has led to “soul-searching and acknowledgment that the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it.”
Many prominent Israeli politicians have denounced the attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying, “We will not tolerate racism, and we will not tolerate the combination of racism and violence. This is something we just cannot accept, not as Jews, not as Israelis.”
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon turned to social media to call the attacks “hate crimes” and “terrorist acts.” Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann calls this condemnation a “game-changer in terms of the discourse.” He writes, “[Ya’alon] will be standing in Likud primaries some time soon, and he probably caused himself electoral damage by this statement, and did it with open eyes. And he did it because in spite of his move to the right, because this violates his values, and worries him. My guess is he is not alone.”
Many Israelis are now wondering how to ratchet down the violence and racism that is becoming increasingly common. Ami Nahshon, president of the Abraham Fund Initiatives told the Jewish Week, “There is an atmosphere that feeds on itself, and the only answer is a definitive, proactive investment by Israeli leaders to close the gaps between Arabs and Jews, to teach tolerance to combat racism and to pursue and prosecute the offenders of hate crimes.”
Please pray for the young man recovering from his injuries, for the young people arrested for their acts of hate, and for all Israelis and Palestinians affected by hate and violence.
Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:
- State Department report on terrorism includes “Price Tag”
- Republicans keep two-state plank
- Further reading