The Electronic Intifada / May 19, 2022
Videos posted online show a mob chanting “death to the Arabs” and waving Israeli flags around Tel Aviv University this week.
The mob came to the campus gate on Tuesday to hunt for Palestinian citizens of Israel to harass or attack, in revenge for commemorations earlier in the week when some students waved Palestinian flags to mark Nakba Day, according to Ran Shimoni, a journalist for the newspaper Haaretz.
This is the annual 15 May commemoration of the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of some 800,000 Palestinians by Zionist militias before and after Israel was founded.
Although they also claimed they would not be violent, they later shouted “there will be beatings here,” according to Shimoni.
The chants also included, “Palestine in flames,” “Muhammad is dead” – a denigrating reference to the prophet, “I hate all the Arabs,” “We’ll fuck your mothers” and “Where are you sons of whores?”
The videos show the anti-Palestinian mob moving about freely inciting hatred and violence while waving Israeli flags. This video shows the mob chanting “death to the Arabs” on a street near the university:
Although on a smaller scale, the scene this week in Tel Aviv was reminiscent of what happened a year ago, when well-organized Jewish lynch mobs went around Israeli cities attacking – and in at least once instance killing Palestinians – while at the same time Israel was bombarding Gaza.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List group of predominantly Palestinian parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, also posted video of Tuesday’s scenes.
“Far-right protesters outside Tel Aviv University tonight are chanting ‘death to the Arabs’ and threatening Arab students right in front of the police,” Odeh wrote.
Odeh added that he had spoken to Israel’s public security minister Omer Barlev “to demand that he [Barlev] work to protect the safety of Arab students.”
However, according to Haaretz’s Shimoni, police who were called to the scene did nothing to stop the death-chanting mob.
This is in marked contrast to what happened on the campus during the Nakba Day commemoration on Sunday, when police arrested three Palestinian students, accusing them of assaulting anti-Palestinian protesters.
“Several dozen students participated in the annual event,” Haaretz reported.
“Activists with Im Tirtzu, a right-wing group that champions Nakba denial, said they were attacked, whereas witnesses who were there for the Nakba commemoration say the violence started with an assault of an Arab student by one of the counter protesters.”
A student who attended the event told the newspaper that an Im Tirtzu activist attacked a Palestinian student who entered an area earmarked for the anti-Palestinian protesters, as the police had “blocked all other entrances.”
“Police officers were all over him within seconds,” according to the student, and when other students tried to help him, “police started pepper spraying and arresting people.”
Although he was doing his duty to make the call, Odeh’s appeal to the Israeli government to protect Palestinian students is unlikely to be heeded – as the government itself is participating in the incitement against them.
As Odeh’s own colleague, Joint List chair Sami Abou Shahadeh observed, Tuesday’s mob scenes took place after the Israeli minister of education Yifat Shasha-Biton “joined right-wing extremists in attacking the Nakba commemorations held in Tel Aviv University, built over the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwannis.”
“Just as during the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh the Israeli government and police show [their] racist approach against any kind of Palestinian national identity,” Abou Shahadeh added.
On Tuesday, in an apparent reference to the Nakba Day commemorations, Shasha-Biton vowed that “we will not allow incitement and harm to the state of Israel and its symbols.”
She added that she was pushing Israel’s Council for Higher Education to “consider sanctions on students who take part in incitement, violence or harm to state symbols.”
For Israel, truthful accounts of history constitute “incitement” because they expose the illegitimacy and violence by which the European settler-colonial Zionist state was founded on the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, towns, cities and rural lands.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)