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A night of violence in West Jerusalem

For years now young Palestinian men have found themselves the targets of groups of Jewish youths roaming the streets of West Jerusalem on weekend nights. As warm weather returns, so are the attacks. One such attack raises the question: who are the police protecting?

By Aviv Tatarsky
(Translated by Ofer Neiman)

Jerusalemites protest against racism in Zion Square on August 18, 2012, two days after a Palestinian youth was seriously injured alongside two others in a mob attack by Israeli youth in crowded central Jerusalem. When paramedics sought to help the injured and get them medical help, bystanders shouted "death the Arabs" and taunted the rescuers, asking "Why do you want to help them? They're just Arabs". (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

Jerusalemites protest against racism in Zion Square on August 18, 2012, two days after a Palestinian youth was seriously injured alongside two others in a mob attack by Israeli youth in crowded central Jerusalem. (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

Thursday night, Zion Square, West Jerusalem. Summer is officially here, and the area that was quite empty during the winter is bustling with thousands of people enjoying a night out. Among them are some Palestinians who have come to partake in “Israelization” — or, at least, that’s how some people have begun describing Palestinians who blend into “Israeli” parts of Jerusalem, adopting modes of behavior that we usually ascribe to ourselves.

At least one of the Palestinians seems — I don’t know, I didn’t see — to have taken his Israelization one step too far, by chatting up a Jewish girl. Maybe he made her laugh, maybe she almost gave him her phone number. Maybe, as is often the case with guys, he didn’t understand he was not wanted. I have no idea. What I do know is that Israelis don’t want this Israelization.

The Palestinian guy runs frantically past me, and a few seconds later, a bunch of Jews are chasing him. The attempted lynching of Jamal Julani immediately comes to mind, an assault that began with such a chase exactly here three years ago. I start running after them.

We sprint down Nahalat Shivaa (an alley of pubs and restaurants). The Jews pass through the stalls of Kikar Hahatulot (Cats’ Square) and pick up some more friends. The area is full of police and border police, but they seem to be oblivious to what’s going on. The gang runs past two female border police officers. No movement by the latter can be discerned. I stop and tell them: “Do you see this group of people? They are chasing a Palestinian guy, and when they catch him this is going to end very badly.” One of them says casually: “OK.”

From July to December, violent attacks on Palestinians in central Jerusalem took place almost every night. It took the police commanders months to start taking action and provide protection in the area. Only winter and the cold, as the number of people out on the town dwindled, did the violence begin to decline. Have the police forgotten that so quickly?

Obstructing a police officer

But I have no time for being shocked. I run up Hillel Street, and catch up with them near an IDF office. The Palestinian has managed to join a few friends, and just as I arrive, around 20 Jews are attacking five Palestinians. One Palestinians gets whacked in the head. One of the Jews pounces on the group of Palestinians and makes stabbing hand gestures. I have no time to understand whether he is holding a knife or not. Instinctively I start to shout, “Police, police,” and the Jews disperse instantly.

I walk up to the Palestinians. Two of them, completely terrified, shout to me: “What the hell did they want from us?” but in English. It turns out they are Canadian citizens visiting relatives in East Jerusalem. I tell them that’s the atmosphere here now, and that they should be careful. I really don’t want to tell them to get out of the area, but I know I have no better suggestion, and so I tell them in English, “It’s best if you leave quickly.” Down Hillel Street, more or less in front of the indifferent female border police officers, the Jewish assailants regroup around us. Someone tells me: “Call the police again and we will bust you up, too,” but most of them focus on cursing and threatening the Palestinians: “We will fuck you up.”

Now the Border Police officers cross the road and hear the threats by the Jews. “What’s going on here?” One of them wants to know. “He spoke to my sister,” one of the guys exclaims. “I will fuck him.” I conclude that now there can be no doubt as to who is the assailant here and who should be protected. But the Israeli Border Police seem to have standard procedures as to how public order should be reinstated, and the police officers seem to follow these strictly. They order the Palestinians to stand aside and then they demand to see their ID cards. They let the Israelis go on cursing and threatening. Two male border police officers arrive.

I walk up to one of the female border police officers. “Remember me? I saw the incident from its beginning. The Palestinians were attacked.” But she tells me I am obstructing a police officer in the line of her duty and instructs me to go back.

This went on for several minutes. the Palestinians humiliated on the corner, the Israeli citizens threatening violently and the officers “doing their duty.” And then it ended. The Palestinians crammed themselves into a cab and fled the scene. One of the Jews shouted, “come on, guys, let’s a have a good time,” and they dispersed without the Border Police officers saying a single word to them throughout the entire incident.

Aviv Tatarsky is a researcher for Ir Amim and a volunteer with an anti-racism group in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Editor’s note: The Jerusalem Police did not respond to a request for comment.

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    1. BigCat


      Muslim Arabs like Jamal Julani will – to restore weird sense of family honor – kill their own sisters and/or mothers if they are caught engaging in any form of platonic romantic relations with “strangers”! Talking with strangers is often enough to get a Muslim girl killed by his male family members – who are often her own younger brother or her own father. Muslim Arabs kill their own daughters/sisters/mothers (along with the stranger if they can get hold of him) to prevent “dishonor”, but somehow think that non-Muslim women are fair-game? Lol…. I am sitting here falling off my chair laughing out loud imagining how little Jamal Julani, who would kill his own sister and/or mother for having a (platonic romantic) relationship with other men, ran cowardly away from real boys, crisscrossing the streets unable to stand his ground, fight and defend his honor against boys doing the same thing Jamal Julani does when it comes to his own sister. What an irony! Lol….

      The Arab Muslim World would be a better places if +972 starts focussing on the evils committed in the Arab Muslim World against women and Young girls insted of the extremely few incidents that take place now and then in Israel (and btw in Europe as well).

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        These kinds of posts show, when you strip away the off-topic whataboutery and abject racist slander and adolescent ghoulishness, how many average Israelis of a certain Beitar Jerusalem kind (see today’s article by Asaf Marziano) think rank discrimination against Arab citizens is just fine, is normal, so normal they don’t even see it. What’s the problem? Is there a problem? Oh. Whatever. It’s funny. It’s great sport. Let’s just laugh at the poor Arab. The demeanor of masters. These kinds of posts are a form of shooting oneself in the foot, they backfire quite predictably. They make the +972 author’s point for them.

        Now what will follow as night follows day is the very predictable ad hominem attack about what a horrible anti-Semite one is, how “obsessed with Jews” one is, which will in turn make Asaf Marziano’s point:

        ‘After all, athletes and civilians are harmed in other places, so why is the focus only on Israel? From here, the road to “everyone is anti-Semitic” isn’t very long. The transition from discriminators to discriminated is complete.”‘

        Because the poster has got absolutely nothing else in his quiver. Wait for it….

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Check this out, Brian Ben David T. Dkkers:

          “At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 30 June 2006, the Criminal Investigations Department of the Rafah Police learned of the burial of Maha Akram El-Hamayda (18), after she had been killed in an ‘honor killing’ crime. The police were able to determine the burial place in the eastern cemetery in Rafah. The father was summoned by the police and the body was removed and submitted to the pathology department of Naser Hospital in Khan Yunis.” http://electronicintifada.net/content/young-woman-killed-rafah-honor-killing/2451

          Now, Brian Ben David T. Dkkers, where was and is your outrage? Why aren’t you getting all emotional and sentimental when Muslim Arabs kill young Muslim girls for mere suspicion of romantic involvement with strangers incl. Jews? Whence are your outrage when Jews are murdered in cold blood? Why is it that your dull sense of right and wrong suddenly awakens and get lucid only when you hear the words “Jew” and/or “Israel” and you only start ranting emotional mumbo jumbo only when you notice that Jews are not the victims, you psychotic obsessive moron?

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Leftist scum would not care if Arabs are brutalized by other Arabs.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            On Trespasser I’m crushed. Gee whillikers. What a devastating reply. Let me try that. Rightist scum would not care if Arabs are brutalized by Jews. Are you crushed too?

            Reply to Comment
    2. Joel

      You’ve got balls, Aviv. I’ll give you that. Kol ha-kavod.

      Just one question. What were you doing in Zion Square before the incident?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Whiplash

      The incident described is ugly. However it is even uglier that the writer ignores Arab violence in Jerusalem against Jews. It is a context lacking, one sided portrayal of violence in Jerusalem.

      On Saturday night two Jewish teenagers were stabbed by a Palestinian outside the Damascus gate. They both went to the hospital with moderate injuries. Stabbing attacks have become a regular feature of life in Jerusalem.

      Last week an Arab driver aimed his car and hit a number of Jewish teenagers standing near a bus stop. Another driver plowed into a group of border police and then tried to back over them before being shot dead. This year an Arab driver killed a 25 year old Jewish man when out for a drive he aimed his car at the victim and crushed him to death. In another attack in late 2014 an Arab driver ran over a Jewish woman and then got out of his car and stabbed her to death. Another driver ran over and killed a 3 month year old baby and a 20 year old woman on a train platform. Palestinian media marked the attack with a victory song called “Run over the 2 Month Baby.”

      The PA recently (May 15, 2015) paid a reward of $2,000 to an attackers’ family in acknowledgment of his contribution to the Palestinian cause. He had tried to kill Israelis with pipe bombs but was shot dead before he could do so.

      Other Palestinian attackers shot a Jewish human rights worker while other Palestinians hacked and slashed to death 4 worshippers and a Druze policeman.

      Jewish daycares and buses carrying young Jewish children are stoned. Jews walking have been harassed and beat up by Arab residents. Arutzsheva last year ran an article from a man who while walking his dog outside the old City’s walls had profanities thrown at him from Arabs in a car who then got out and began to beat him. His life was saved by his dog who fought them off.

      Elder of Ziyon showed a clip of a large number of Arab youth harassing a Charedi youth waking to school.

      Arson attacks, vandalized cars and rocks through windows of Jewish homes are a regular occurrence in Jewish Neighborhoods next to Arab ones.

      Nor can we ignore the violence of Palestinians against Jews following the signing of the Oslo Accords through the second intifada. Can any Jewish parent forget that feeling that when their child left home he might never come back alive? Do you think that the children who survived the bus bombings and suicide attacks, who were splattered with blood and bits of body parts of other Jewish children, or the children on their way to school who witnessed the aftermath of these events, will ever forget them or the Arab people who sent the killers and supported them?

      It is in this context that some Israeli youth have violently and wrongfully acted against Arabs. Two wrongs do not make a right but let us not ignore all the wrongs of the Arabs in creating the atmosphere in which these attacks do occur.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Where can I find a complete set of statistics on who does what to whom, including home demolitions, imprisonment without trial, illegal land confiscation and so on? Where’s the score card?

        Reply to Comment
        • Whiplash

          Bruce OCHA used to keep track of settler attacks and price tag graffiti attacks against Palestinians. United Hatzallah used to keep track of physical attacks by Arabs against Jews in the West Bank and Judea and Samaria. In 2013 OCHA said there 399 attacks by members of Jewish communities in the West Bank for a full year while United Hatzallah reported there were over 5600 attacks against Jews in Judea and Samaria for the first half of that year. Averaged over a whole year that would be 11,200 attacks compared to 399.

          As far as home demolitions, the last stats I saw were from Camera and Israel was shown to demolish as many illegal structures in West as in the eastern part of Jerusalem over a period of time in the last 2000s. As far as demolitions outside of Jerusalem go, the Israeli government has torn asunder thousands of Jewish homes in Gaza, the West Bank, the Sinai and parts of Israel inside the green line. In the West Bank the civil administration has flattened homes, barns, vineyards, shops and other structures belonging to Jews in Judea and Samaria. Israel has also taken down many illegal Arab structures over the years.

          As far as illegal land confiscation the Arabs win hands down on that score. In the eastern part of Jerusalem they have built 25,000 to 30,000 illegal homes alone. In Judea and Samaria they are always encroaching on state land. The EU has funded thousands of illegal land confiscations by Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Cogat does nothing. It took the Human Rights organization Regavim to get the government to start dealing with all the illegal Arab land grabs in Judea and Samaria.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Sarah Kaminker, a city planner in Jerusalem for more than thirty years, describes a decades-long regime of the rankest discrimination in land use, planning, development, draconian bureaucratic measures, and what amounts to a whole bag of dirty tricks:

            “…There are literally a hundred other discriminatory practices that ruthlessly prevent Palestinians from building homes in Jerusalem. There are unjustiably huge charges for building licenses that are imposed only on Arabs…
            …The Israeli government claims that it has no choice but to punish the “scofflaws” in East Jerusalem who build illegally. If only they would ask for a license, the municipality would issue one. The government says it gets about 150 requests from Arabs each year and dutifully supplies them with building licenses. What the municipality does not tell us is that over one thousand Arabs each year ask a special team of Arab civil servants in the city engineer’s office for information about the planning regulations that apply to their land. About 150 of them have land where housing construction is permitted. These lucky few apply for and gain building licenses. The others, having been told informally that their land is not zoned for housing, never get into the data bank, allowing the municipality to continue to claim that it issues licenses to all applicants….”


            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        I saw that. And yet, some here claim these soldiers with Beaking the Silence have just nothing to fear.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Brian Ben David T. Dekkers, quit fixating on- and obsessing with Jewish Affairs that are no way no how any of your business. Find a job to support your empty self first. Then worry about your own country second. Right now in Ohio, a police man was acquitted after he jumped onto the hood of a car and pumped tens of bullets into the bodies of unarmed Black teenagers murdering all of them! There are demonstrations taking place right now because of that. Why don’t you care about your own country and countrymen? Why this round the clock psychotic fixation on- and obsession with Jews and Israel, you psychotic moron?

          Reply to Comment
    4. BigCat

      ICC News!

      The European Union Is Now Condemning the Palestinian Authority For Paying SALARIES To TERRORISTS. This is yet another corroborated evidence of war crimes being gathered and preserved for the right time. The PA is paying their foot soldiers for the e.g. suicide bombings that dismembered Jewish children while they danced in discothèques or ate pizza in restaurants.


      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Good. Prosecute them all, on both sides. A full airing. Fair and balanced. Put them all in the dock. Take it out of the hands of the locals and intervene from outside because the locals have proven themselves incapable. When both the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership have international arrest warrants out for them we’ll finally have progress.

        Reply to Comment