'Arabs Are Enemies': Amid Uptick in Hate Crimes, Arab Village Targeted in Northern Israel

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Hateful graffiti in Hebrew reading 'Arabs are enemies -- expel or kill,' and a Star of David spary-painted on a wall in Manshiya Zabda, northern Israel, December 12, 2019.
Hateful graffiti in Hebrew reading 'Arabs are enemies -- expel or kill,' and a Star of David spary-painted on a wall in Manshiya Zabda, northern Israel, December 12, 2019. Credit: Israel Police

A suspected hate crime was carried out in the Arab village of Manshiya Zabda overnight Wednesday. 

The tires of dozens of vehicles were punctured and hateful slogans were spray-painted on the northern Israeli village's neighborhood walls. A Star of David was scrawled on one of the cars. 

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Two buildings in the village were defiled with the sentences: "Jews wake up, expel the enemy," "Arabs are enemies —  expel or kill" and "Mohammed is a pig." 

Israel Police have launched an investigation into the incident and said in a statement that "we severely view and condemn all sorts of nationalistic hate crimes. We'll employ all the measure at our disposal, in cooperation with other entities, to locate the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

Perpetrators caught on camera slashing tires in Manshiya Zabda.

Sheikh Ali Balal Manshiya Zabda, an imam who resides in the village, told Haaretz that "we are a very small community, and we've never experienced such an incident. We have an excellent relationship with our neighbors. The criminals [responsible for this] must have taken advantage of the fact that we are a quiet community and entered here in the middle of the night to carry out this crime."

The sheikh added that "we hope the criminal will be swiftly found and brought to justice. The entire community is angry and frustrated, and no one is going to work today."

The Emek Yizrael Regional Council, under whose jurdisdiction the village is located, said in a statement that "the council categorically denounces the incident. We support the residents of Manshiya Zabda, who are very dear to us. We call on the police to get to the perpetrators responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice. We'll show zero tolerance to incidents of racism and terrorism."

Tag Meir, an NGO founded to promote solidarity, said that "price tag criminals continue carrying out serial hate crimes without disturbance or condemnation by the Israeli government. Every five to six days in average, Jewish militias raid on Arab and Palestinian communities, vandalizing vehicles, chop off olive trees and mainly sow fear and terror among the local population. The State of Israel has failed to fulfill its basic duty to protect civilians and Arab/Palestinian residents for whom it is responsible." 

The Racism Crisis Center – an organization established to lend legal and other assistance to individuals targeted by acts of discrimination and racism – called to set up a special commission of inquiry to handle the repeated occurrence of hate crimes.

"This is a serious incident, and a growing phenomenon. This year, some 200 vehicles and dozens of houses have been vandalized. Incidents in such a wide-ranging scope demand decisive action. It's time to establish a special commission of inquiry to deal with this phenomenon.

"The latest incident is even worse than previous ones since it harms the most important symbols of the religion of Israel's Arab citizens. The difference between vandalizing vehicles and physical violence is becoming smaller. It’s inconceivable that this is ongoing while law enforcement authorities fail to arrest suspects or reach any conclusions." 

On Monday, the tires of over 160 vehicles were slashed and threatening graffiti was sprayed in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

The phrase "When Jews are stabbed we will not be silent" and a Star of David were spray painted on one wall, and graffiti reading "Arabs = enemies" and "There's no place in Israel for enemies" was also found.

Police said they are investigating the incident, and an police statement said that a large number of officers were sent to check the scene, where they uncovered even more vandalized cars.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen condemned the vandalism on Twitter, writing: "Another severe hate crime - in Shuafat. Again, the authorities are closing their eyes. Hundreds of cars have been damaged at this point, as well as dozens of houses of prayer and thousands of trees. Not to forget the murder of the Dawabshe family."

He added, "If similar acts had been carried out by Arabs in Jewish towns, would it occur to anyone that they would happen again and again so often without catching the perpetrators?"  

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