Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged Israelis to boycott the businesses of Arab citizens who are taking part in a general strike in protest of the Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip and the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
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In a Facebook post published Monday afternoon, Lieberman wrote, “I call upon everyone not to shop anymore at the stores and businesses of those among the Arab sector who are participating today in the general strike that was declared by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee as a sign of empathy for Gaza residents and against Operation Protective Edge.”
Members of the Israeli-Arab community expressed great interest in the strike, which was called for by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee on Monday morning. The number of residents of large Arab cities - like Nazareth, Umm al Fahm and Sakhnin - and various communities who responded to the call was relatively large, particularly when compared to previous years in which the committee declared a strike and most of the Israeli-Arab public turned a cheek.
The committee explained that the troubling pictures emerging from Gaza – particularly those that came out of Shujaiyeh on Sunday – have shaken up the Israeli-Arab population, and in the face of those pictures they can’t remain indifferent. Furthermore, it said, the Ramadan atmosphere has contributed to the strike.
MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) said Lieberman’s statement is “an example of incitement, racism and of the creation of a herd mentality.” He also said “The atmosphere of war and racist criticism, which goes as far as actual violence against Arabs, is nourished by inciteful and racist declarations of senior members of the Israeli government.” Ghattas added that the real problem facing Israel today "is that extreme right-wingers and messianic settlers, who were on the fringes a few years ago, have risen to power."
Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On also responded to Lieberman’s Facebook post, saying, “Once again the foreign minister, who is supposed to be the face of the State of Israel, is exposing his racist, ugly face. Israeli-Arab citizens, like every other citizen, have the right to express solidarity with their brothers who are suffering in Gaza and the suffering of innocent (people) in Gaza.”
In addition to the strike, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has declared Monday a day of mourning, and will hold a procession in Nazareth at 5:00 P.M. tonight.