[News] "Death to the Arabs" rally draws thousands in Tel Aviv

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 20 11:14:20 EDT 2016


  "Death to the Arabs" rally draws thousands in Tel Aviv

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah>19 
April 2016

In Tel Aviv’s Yitzhak Rabin Square on Tuesday evening, thousands of 
rallied in support of Elor Azarya 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/elor-azarya>, the soldier filmed 
a gravely wounded Palestinian last month.

Rally-goers shouted anti-Arab slogans and attacked persons perceived as 
being leftists or journalists.

Hours earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a call 
for leniency for the soldier.

    Few thousand people at the rally. Organizers keel telling crowd they
    aren't angry at the government or army. pic.twitter.com/kEcFGsiYM1

    — Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) April 19, 2016

    NOW: In Tel Aviv to cover rally for Israeli soldier who executed
    Palestinian & got beaten by mob & detained by cops.
    pic.twitter.com/XI5cwyZXQY <https://t.co/XI5cwyZXQY>

    — David Sheen (@davidsheen) April 19, 2016

/Times of Israel/ reporter Judah Ari Gross tweeted 
<https://twitter.com/JudahAriGross/status/722458998788792321> that an 
activist from B’Tselem, the human rights group that released the video 
of Azarya shooting and killing Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, had to be 
escorted out of Rabin Square by police in order to “protect his life 

    Thousands of people here. So much for "liberal" Tel Aviv. This is
    fascist Israel. pic.twitter.com/quAOx3t8Jd <https://t.co/quAOx3t8Jd>

    — Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 19, 2016

    Police escorting a Btselem activist away from the rally in Kikar
    Rabin. pic.twitter.com/PiyrHfih3Z <https://t.co/PiyrHfih3Z>

    — Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) April 19, 2016

    Journalist attacked

Reporter David Sheen 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/david-sheen>, a contributor to 
The Electronic Intifada, was set upon by a mob and then ordered to leave 
the area by police after he was accused of association with B’Tselem.

    After being beaten by TelAviv mob rallying to support killer Israeli
    soldier, cops gave me ultimatum: A night in jail or go home immediately

    — David Sheen (@davidsheen) April 19, 2016

    Thanks to those who reached out after I was attacked by a mob in
    "liberal" Tel Aviv tonight. My phone battery's about to die, but
    I'll live.

    — David Sheen (@davidsheen) April 19, 2016

Sheen told The Electronic Intifada he arrived at Rabin Square before the 
rally began but as several hundred people had already gathered. Some 
asked him to film them with their signs supporting Azarya.

At that point, Sheen said, a man began asking him why he was filming. 
Other members of the crowd quickly began joining in, shouting at Sheen, 
“Are you B’Tselem? Go to Gaza!”

Sheen said he tried to remain calm and exit the square but the 
increasingly agitated mob followed him and began to surround and kick him.

He was then grabbed by a police officer and extracted. Sheen said police 
took his camera equipment and questioned him. After he told them he was 
a journalist, they said he either had to leave immediately or face a 
night in jail. Sheen said he chose to leave and that police returned his 

The police were effectively acting accomplices to the mob, Sheen 
observed, ensuring the removal of journalists who could document what 

Sheen said that the assault was frightening, “because I knew that 
everyone else at that rally was of the same mindset and there wasn’t 
anyone who was going to step in, so it very easily could have gotten 
much worse and there wouldn’t have been anybody to fish me out.”

He said he had been threatened at other recent rallies he has covered, 
but had not experienced that level of violence.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people in Israel harbor hatred towards 
journalists,” Sheen said.

“They don’t see the soldier’s actions as a problem,” he added. “They see 
the problem as exposure to world media that puts pressure on their 
government to withdraw support from that soldier.”

“But it still caught me by surprise how quickly people were whipped up 
into a frothing at the mouth mob,” he said.

Chants from the crowd heard by Sheen included “Kill the leftists” and 
“Elor Azarya is a hero, bring back our boy!”

A video of the mob assault on Sheen was posted on Facebook 
by a user who accuses him of being a B’Tselem videographer intent on 
“provoking” the rally-goers. Sheen is not affiliated with the human 
rights group.

Members of the mob can be heard shouting “son of a whore” and other insults.

    “Kill them all”

Another independent reporter, Dan Cohen, tweeted 
<https://twitter.com/dancohen3000/status/722487878266327040> that many 
in the crowd chanted “Death to Arabs,” a frequently heard 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/death-arabs> rallying cry at 
anti-Palestinian demonstrations.

    Crowd chants "Elor the hero" and "death to Arabs." This seems more
    like a celebration of murder than anything
    pic.twitter.com/2QHDpIT0LJ <https://t.co/2QHDpIT0LJ>

    — Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 19, 2016

Ahmed Tibi <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ahmed-tibi>, a 
Palestinian lawmaker in Israel’s parliament, posted an image of a sign 
displayed at the rally reading “Kill them all.”

    Message of the new Israeli justice & equality: "kill them all" in
    tel aviv rally supporting a murderer soldier
    pic.twitter.com/t9CqN777ya <https://t.co/t9CqN777ya>

    — Ahmad Tibi (@Ahmad_tibi) April 19, 2016

The rally was organized 
by Sharon Gal, an Israeli journalist and former lawmaker, and was 
addressed by Azarya’s parents.

Several Israeli pop icons were also scheduled to entertain the 
rally-goers, including singers Moshik Afia, Maor Edri and Amos Elgali, 
as well as rapper Subliminal, the Israeli website /Ynet/ reported 

But two performers, Eyal Golan and David D’Or, withdrew at the last 
minute in the wake of public outrage that their appearance could be seen 
as an attack on the Israeli army, which has faced heavy criticism for 
taking any measures at all against Azarya.

“I would have liked to come to perform at the assembly in the name of 
art, and personally as a performer and as a human being,” Golan stated. 
“However, I’m sorry to say that there are those who will use this as a 
political spectacle.”

“I wanted to show my sympathy to the family of the soldier,” D’Or said, 
“not to say anything against the IDF [Israeli army] or the IDF chief of 
staff, God forbid.”


Last month, an opinion poll found 
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.711163> that 57 percent 
of the Israeli public saw nothing wrong with Azarya’s actions and 32 
percent supported it outright. Just five percent saw shooting an 
injured, incapacitated person as murder.

That support comes from the highest echelons of Israel’s government. In 
a statement to media hours before the rally, Prime Minister Benjamin 
Netanyahu demanded leniency for Azarya.

“As the father of a soldier and as Prime Minister, I would like to 
reiterate: the IDF backs its soldiers,” Netanyahu said.

“In my familiarity with the military justice system, I am convinced that 
the court will consider all circumstances regarding the incident. Our 
soldiers are not murderers. They act against murderers and I hope that a 
way will be found to balance between the action and the overall context 
of the event,” the prime minister added.

Netanyahu’s attempt to prejudge the outcome of any trial appears to be 
an effort to ride the wave of popularity Azarya is enjoying that was 
vividly – and violently – on display at the Tel Aviv rally.

Previously, B’Tselem has condemned similar statements 
by top Israeli officials as sending messages that “empty the official 
restrictions on use of force, and particularly on live fire, of real 


Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Qasrawi, both 21, were shot dead 
after they allegedly tried to attack Israeli occupation soldiers in the 
West Bank city of Hebron on 24 March.

The killing of al-Sharif was caught on video which shows the youth on 
the ground, incapacitated, as Azarya points a rifle at him from close 
range and fires directly at his head.

The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, which investigated 
the incident, called the killings war crimes and noted the complicity of 
Israeli medical workers and others in the vicinity who did nothing to 
assist the injured al-Sharif before he was extrajudicially executed.

Al-Haq dismissed the arrest of Azarya as part of a public relations 
effort, noting that no one was detained in the shooting of al-Qasrawi, 
whose killing was not filmed.

“The occupation authorities’ detention of the accused soldier is a 
cover-up of the crime, to show the occupier state as law abiding and 
holding violators accountable,” Al-Haq stated.

“The arrest of one soldier and not the other suggests that what the 
other soldier had done was not a crime because it was not captured on 
camera,” the group added.

Israel at first announced Azarya would be charged with murder, but 
following a surge of public support 
the charges were downgraded to manslaughter.

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