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Four Israelis arrested in Susya for painting over anti-Arab graffiti

Israeli activists went to the Palestinian village to replace the vandalism committed by settlers with a message of nonviolence and solidarity – and were subsequently arrested for damaging property. 

While tens of thousands of people were demonstrating last night (Saturday) in Tel Aviv for the mandatory military enlistment of all Israeli citizens, four other citizens were sitting in jail after being arrested for painting over hate speech graffitied on a rock by settlers in Susya and proceeding to write “Stop the Violence” and “Free Susya” next to it.

The charge: damage to property. The four were brought Sunday morning before a Jerusalem judge, who ruled that they indeed damaged property and are prohibited from entering the entire Hebron area for the next 30 days. They plan to appeal the decision.

Last week, on July 2, just a few days after a large protest in solidarity with Susya, which is under threat of destruction by Israel, graffiti was found on a rock reading: “Price Tag” and “Avenge the Arabs!”

'Price Tag' graffiti in Susya (photo: Israeli Ta'ayush activist)

Another one says: “Price tag forever” and “Greetings from the goat!” referring to a goat that settlers stole from Palestinian residents a few days ago.

'Price Tag' graffiti in Susya (photo: Israeli Ta'ayush activist)

Ta’ayush activists went to Susya on Saturday to show solidarity with the residents and protest the hateful graffiti. No legal action was taken against the perpetrators.

In the video below shot by activist and filmmaker Nissim Mossek, you can see an Israeli Ta’ayush activist painting over the graffiti with black spray-paint, and then get taken away by military police.  Watch as he hands them over his I.D. card more than willingly, and tells the police officer plainly: “I very much want you to arrest me for the fact that I wiped out this graffiti,” then turns to the other officer who is filming and says: “You documented the whole thing, right, before I erased as well?” and then turns back to the officer arresting him and says: “I made sure this was documented, and I would be very pleased for you to detain me for this.”

Afterwards, three more activists were arrested after spraying “Stop the Violence” and “Free Susya” on a nearby rock (two are caught on this film). When the last one of them is arrested, he says to the officers, “I’m doing this to prove that when settlers come in the middle of the night and graffiti ‘Death to Arabs’ you do nothing. So I am here to prove whose side you are on. I am proof.”

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    1. AYLA

      “Greetings from the Goat”. I’m stealing that. As a title.
      “I am proof”, indeed. We are all proof of something, activists or not, in our very being. The first thing we have to do is acknowledge that. The second thing we have to do is choose what we want to be proof of.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Rafael

      Israel is a hellhole and a joke.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn9

      Rafael, let us work together to rescue the poor Palestinians from that hell by giving them opportunities to live life in freedom and dignity somewhere else? Imagine how happy Palestinians would be in an Arab or Muslim country like Qatar or Turkey.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Maor

      This video is great – the police acted with respect to the protesters, the policemen were extremely professional and avoided unnecessary confrontations, without using even a tiny bit of force (from the type that every other police in every other incident in every other place in the world usually uses). They called the protesters to leave the area, and decided to arrest the “vandals” after the action continued. When the protesters tried to provoke the policemen by blocking the road, we see that they still decided to avoid confrontation.

      It’s interesting to see a picture that went viral on facebook over the past few days that shows how it usually works: a few demonstrators are filming a soldier while other demonstrators provoke him, get as close as they can to him, try to do everything to get him to react, so that there will be some new material to Mairav and the Guardian – but this time the soldier didn’t give them what they wished for.

      Reply to Comment
    5. aristeides

      K9 – I’ve got a better idea. Let the Palestinians live in freedom and dignity in their own homeland while the interlopers go somewhere else.

      Reply to Comment
    6. ish yehudi

      hey aristeides– where should we go?
      i’ll let you fill in the blanks- but there’s only one land in this world that we know as home—
      until you can accept that, we will work on repeating that message. i’m willing to accept and honor and work towards your dignity and story in our land— can you acknowledge mine?

      Reply to Comment
    7. XYZ

      What I see in the response of Rafael and the ongoing radicalization of parts of the Left, some of which we even see here at 972, is ongoing rage and anger at Israel’s success. Some think Israel shouldn’t exist at all, others are upset that the “wrong” people are in power, while others are in despair at the failure of the so-called “peace process”. If Israel isn’t they way the want it, it has no right to exist as they see it, and yet its ongoing prosperity, strength and developing relations with the new powers in the world like China, Russia and India goes against their world view and shows that it is wrong. Thus, the extreme emotional reactions.

      Reply to Comment
    8. AYLA

      @Maor–I feel silly doing this, but let’s try it anyway: you and your family and all the jews you know are under military occupation and have been for forty years. People from the occupying side live right above you in a relatively new settlement as compared to yours’ that’s been there, and in your family, since 1830. (you live in “Jewish Susya”, a ghetto by contrast to “Aryan Susya”) and they regularly taunt you. Recently, they came by night and put graffiti that says, “Death to Jews.” There are, however, a few good people on the Aryan side who have been hanging out with you and have come to know you. Some have helped you build biogas systems and have put in solar panels and feel really invested in you and your family and your orchards, and they decide to, gasp, spray paint over the “Death to Jews”. The Aryan army arrests them, and later gets praised for handling the people who covered “death to jews”, “with respect”. I’ve been to Susiya, Maor. They’re a wonderful community doing no harm. You should go meet them. You can see the ancient Jewish temple when you’re there, just like christians come from all over the world to see their much-more-historically-important sites in Ein Kerem while we Jews live there (now…). It’s exciting that we found an ancient temple in Susya. We can make it a tourist destination without kicking anyone out of their home. Could even bring some business to the Susya embroidery store. Imagine how simple it could be.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Maor

      Ayla, you were right, that was quite silly… who said that I don’t agree with you about Susiya? (not with the Nazi comparison childish crap of course, I don’t remember the Nazis ever arresting graffiti sprayer and even without violence, so please stop using the evil Zionists to demonize and delegitimize the Nazis/Aryans).

      What does it have to do with what I wrote about a dignified, professional behavior of the police?

      Reply to Comment
    10. AYLA

      @Maor. “Aryan” is not “Nazi”. There are two susya’s: Jewish and Palestinian. I don’t know what you mean by “agreeing with me” about Susya, but you don’t if you think this video makes the Israeli army look good or professional in any way.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Maor

      Ayla, it should be possible to discuss various aspects of an event or situation without necessarily referring to other issues or bigger issues. While I agree that Israel’s behavior in Susya is wrong and I wish to see better policies there, the police (not army, police) in this video acted well (professionally, without using unnecessary violence, also patiently) to do their job in this specific situation and event.

      What, this video is really supposed to shock me to see how brutal the police is to protesters in the West Bank? Well, it did the opposite. To whoever distributed this: try again next time, bring something better. I know you’re trying hard, and the fact that it’s so difficult to come up with videos that will show me the police brutality is actually comforting.

      Reply to Comment
    12. AYLA

      good point: police, not army. No–the intention in this case was not to shock the audience about police brutality; there are plenty of other videos for that, and you are correct: this is not police brutality. woo hoo! do we deserve high grades for not being brutal with non-violent protestors? Rather, the point of this action is very simple: to show where the police’s allegiances lie; what they’re condemning and what they’re endorsing. Not to mention where their energy, and our tax shekels, are going.

      Reply to Comment
    13. AYLA

      anyway, Maor–if we both believe that “Israel’s behavior in Susya is wrong” and we’re both aware of the problem, we already have more in common than I have with the vast majority of Israelis including many in my community who I loosely call friends. so with respect, I’m suggesting that you could put your energy to better use than being impressed by police non-violence when they follow orders and arrest people for painting over “Death to Arabs”. Maybe the police should consider that the original painting was, in fact, a death threat, and concern themselves with this? Now that you’ve expressed more, it seems you might be on board with that.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Alon

      The graffiti reads “Vengeance against the Arabs”, not “Death to Arabs”. No need to exaggerate the actual story in my opinion, it’s rotten enough.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Piotr Berman

      avenge: to take vengeance for or on behalf of

      Avenge the Arabs == take vengeance for the wrongs suffered by the Arabs

      Was it really the text of a graffiti in Hebrew?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Rafael

      “Rafael, let us work together to rescue the poor Palestinians from that hell by giving them opportunities to live life in freedom and dignity somewhere else?”
      What about just giving them their land back and allowing them to build their state? Complete independence — no more charity, either Westerner or Muslim.
      “Imagine how happy Palestinians would be in an Arab or Muslim country like Qatar or Turkey.”
      I don’t honestly think that either in Turkey or in Qatar Palestinians have their goats stolen, and lives threatened, and their lands confiscated, with the cooperation of security forces. So I don’t really know what you’re on about. Enlighten me.

      Reply to Comment
    17. […] parking lot. It seems that many have answered our calls for more activists. Even without our four suspended activists, we still had a kickass group of interesting people. Noticeably, there were much more women than […]

      Reply to Comment