Hussein Rawidi
Hussein Rawidi, father of Hussam Rawidi, speaking at a demonstration in Jerusalem, Feb. 26. 2011. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Hundreds demonstrated Friday in Sheikh Jarrah against the "wave of racist violence" they say has engulfed the capital of Israel.

The main speaker at the East Jerusalem protest was Hussein Rawidi, father of Hussam Rawidi, who was attacked and stabbed to death by four Jewish minors two weeks ago in the center of the city.

Hussein Rawidi also spoke at a protest last night in Jersualem's Zion Square.

While Jerusalem police said Hussam Rawidi was attacked for being Arab, the stabbing itself was classified as a criminal, not nationalist, act - an interpretation which angered the victim's father and led him to join the weekly demonstration on Friday.

"There is a direct link between what happened to Hussam and the racism running amok in Jerusalem - which began with incitement against renting apartments to Arabs - and what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah," Rawidi said at the protest.

"My son was murdered because he was an Arab, he was not killed because he got in a fight," the father added.

"He never used violence against another person, he was never involved in a crime and he was never a member of a political party. He was assailed at a time when he was out with a friend, solely because he was an Arab."

For the past 20 years, Hussein Rawidi has been employed by a beverage marketing firm owned by a Jewish businessman, and several years ago Hussam, his eldest son, joined the business.

He was 24 when he was killed earlier this month.

"My son had many Jewish friends from work and he liked them just like he liked the Arab employees," the father told the demonstrators. "We believed in living together, Arabs and Jews. We must not remain quiet when racism rears its ugly head."

Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis For Human Rights, who took part in the demonstration told Haaretz, "We must ask ourselves - if the victim was Jewish and the attackers were Arabs, would the indictment be different?"

"If my son was Jewish, they would not even consider indicting the perpetrators of manslaughter," Rawidi said.

Pollak released from prison, goes right back to protesting

Anti-occupation activist Jonathan Pollak was released from prison Thursday, after serving a three-month sentence for illegal assembly. The charges stemmed from a protest in Tel Aviv three years ago against the blockade on Gaza.

His sentence was reduced by one-third for good behavior. On Friday Pollak participated in a demonstration against the occupation in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah.

Pollak, 28, was indicted after taking part in a non-violent bicycle ride protesting Israel's blockade on Gaza. He was fined NIS 1,500 and the court also imposed a suspended sentence against Pollak for previous demonstrations.

He refused the court's proposal to substitute his prison term with community service.

"I don't think the price [I had to pay for doing what I had to do] is legitimate, but it won't change what I do," Pollak said yesterday. "I know people get arrested at demonstrations, but I still went to Friday's demonstration." (Nir Hasson)