Monday, 31st March , 2008 , 01:48 [am] | International
Israeli Arab leader on Land Day: We’ll fight Israel’s ‘rising fascism’
The chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said Sunday that the Israeli Arab sector and its leadership would fight what he called the “rising fascism” of Israeli society.
Israeli Arabs and supporters gathered Sunday across the country to mark the 32nd Land Day, an annual event protesting government policy regarding Israel’s largest minority.
Speaking to protesters in Sakhnin, committee chairman Shuweiki Hatib said: “We have reached an age of a race to see who can incite more against the Israeli Arab public and its leadership.”
“We have patience and we have faith and this leadership will know how ro deal with the rising fascism in Israeli society,” he added.
“The establishment is continuing its long-standing policy of discrimination with the intention to disenfranchise us,” he added. “But we stand firm on our land. The discrimination is everywhere, whether in funding, or expanding of Arab municipal jurisdiction. They’re talking about building a new Arab city. My question is, who’s stopping you?”
Hatib also called upon the Jewish public to drive out fascism from their midst.
During the events, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka launched an attack on the judicial system.
“We have been let down by Israel’s judicial system and democracy – 80 percent of our lands have been expropriated by the Knesset’s pseudo-democratic legislation,” he said.
An unusual participant in the Arabeh procession was Rabbi Menachem Froman, of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa.
“I decided to come when I heard [Hadash MK] Mohammad Barakeh inviting Jews to join them, and then I heard a Jewish MK accusing the Arabs of trying to ruin our country,” he said. “I want to promote justice and peace on earth, and this procession has the same goal.”
At the main Land Day event, held Sunday in the nothern Israeli Arab village of Arabeh, Hadash MK Dov Khenin told protesters: “The Arab population has nowhere to go either, vis-a-vis the policy of discrimination, house demolition and land expropriation.”
The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee had classified the purpose of Land Day demonstrations as a protest against “the ongoing government policy of house demolition and suspension of development plans for Arab towns.”
In his address to the rally, MK Khenin said: “Land Day is more relevant than ever. The entire Israeli public should assist the Arab community in their struggle for equality in their homeland.”
The first Land Day protests were held on March 30, 1976, to protest government expropriations of Galilee land for “security and settlement purposes.”
The 1976 protests deteriorated into violent clashes with security forces, leaving six Arab protesters dead.
Earlier on Sunday, Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israel Defense Forces soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus.
Several hundred protesters approached the Hawara checkpoint and scuffled with IDF troops. The soldiers responded with tear gas and stun grenades and detained two people. There were no serious injuries reported.
The army said on Sunday it used only non-lethal measures to disperse the crowd at Hawara. It also said anyone who was detained has been released.
The disturbance came as visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to advance peace negotiations.
On Friday, some 1,000 Israeli Arabs, most of them from Jaffa, marked the 32nd annual Land Day in a procession in Jaffa , which hosted the event for the first time.
“We’ll redeem you, Jaffa, with spirit and blood,” protesters called, some of them holding up Palestinian flags.haaretz, Voice of a Nation