Editorial |

Abandoned to the Angry Mob

Haaretz cartoon, July 30, 2020.
Haaretz cartoon, July 30, 2020.Credit: Amos Biderman

“A huge gang came out and surrounded me. I tried to run. They kicked me in every possible place of my body.”

“They threatened: ‘This time you’ll get a bullet like a terrorist, you son of a bitch.”

“He spit in my face, right into my mouth. … He ripped off two of my necklaces and grabbed me by the shirt.”

“Three guys surrounded my wife and started to curse and spit at her. Meanwhile someone came up to me from behind and pushed me and gave me a serious punch in the back.”

Why Israel’s anti-Bibi left is so lost – and chasing yet another general as its Messiah. LISTENCredit: Haaretz

These testimonies and others appeared in a Hebrew Haaretz report on Sunday. They are from people who were demonstrating against the prime minister and were victims of physical and/or verbal violence perpetrated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters.

These testimonies ought to be a wake-up call to the entire Israeli public, from the ordinary citizen through the political leadership to the president, regardless of their political affiliation. What emerges from them is a most worrisome picture of a dangerous public climate, explosive and boding catastrophe, in which Netanyahu opponents are being targeted as fair game.

Those protesting against Netanyahu in recent months at the junctions, bridges and in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem have been consistently cursed, spit at, pushed, kicked and punched. Sometimes things are thrown at them. There have been pepper spray attacks.

Despite the palpable threats, the police move at a snail’s pace to assure the protesters’ safety. They are primarily engaged in dispersing the demonstrations, using undue force even though the protesters aren’t violent. The drop in the number of protesters hasn’t kept the police at bay; they continue to act as if they’ve been ordered to suppress the protest, in the service of Netanyahu.

Although the violence is accompanying the protest like some unofficial security detail of the prime minister’s, Netanyahu himself refuses to address it seriously and is doing nothing to stop it. When asked about it at a press conference, given the accumulating evidence of attacks on demonstrators by the thugs of the anti-Arab group La Familia, he weakly condemned the violence “on any side,” giving credence to the lie that political violence in Israel is two-directional.

This is a gross falsehood that serves the one who seeks to cultivate political violence to preserve his rule. Political violence in Israel is one-way only; it always, without exception goes from right to left.

Before a disaster occurs, there must be serious, effective action, with no fakery. Police must stop leaving protesters unprotected, and the political leadership had better wake up. Again, the writing is on the wall.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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