“I’m at Habima. We are 50-60 proud Israelis, fighting back, standing in front of 300-400 Israel-hating leftists.” That’s how Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi (whose stage name is Shadow) described the scene in front of him in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, on a video he posted to Facebook. In the post he invited right-wing activists to join him in order to disrupt a nonviolent protest that leftists had organized against Operation Protective Edge. “Don’t dismiss this, we need more lions here to stand up to the left,” said Eliasi.
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His call to action did not fall on deaf ears. Within a short time, dozens of right-wingers streamed to Habima Square and set on the demonstrators with clubs, shouting “Death to Arabs” and “Leftists to the ovens.” They threw eggs at the leftists, hit them and chased after them.
According to the police, they tried to protect those being attacked. But the leftist demonstrators say they were beaten without the police intervening, with some people beaten unconscious. None of the rioters was arrested.
Eliasi wrote on his Facebook page, “The police representative (who, by the way, treated us great and we saw the pride on the faces of the special forces and the restraint toward our side) took me aside and wanted to see these lions of the Shadow – and thus he gave a name to the group I’m organizing, which is essentially all of you.”
Less than two weeks after Jews allegedly kidnapped, tortured and burned 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir to death, the government, the Israel Police and other law enforcement authorities still refuse to internalize the real danger inherent in the type of violence displayed on Saturday. Figures like Eliasi and groups such as La Familia, Lehava and Kahane Lives are the dangerous product of incessant incitement by extreme right-wing elements.
When senior ministers like Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, let alone people such as Danny Danon, Miri Regev and Ayelet Shaked, relate to the Arab minority as second-class citizens, it follows that those who demonstrate on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza are a legitimate target.
The Labor and Meretz factions have asked the attorney general, the public security minister and the police commissioner to investigate the police conduct at Saturday night’s event. Israeli citizens have the right to demonstrate anywhere, at any time, and on behalf of any issue, without having to fear for their safety. The police are obligated to protect them and protect democracy.