“We are the victim,” said MK Abu Shehadeh. “The settlers want to show the Arabs who’s boss, and who’s the lord of this racist and shocking country.”
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
As unrest rocks eastern Jerusalem and Jaffa, an MK from the Arab Joint List refused to condemn violent anti-Semitic attacks on Jews and subsequent riots.
During an interview with Ynet on Monday, Sami Abu Shehadeh of the Balad party justified the violence, which saw a rabbi in his sixties beaten, several Arab Israelis arrested, police physically attacked by protesters, and property vandalized and burned.
The violent street protests in Jaffa were sparked by an unprovoked attack on Rabbi Eliyahu Mali on Sunday morning. Mali, the head of the Shirat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva, together with the yeshiva’s director, were beaten by two Arab Israelis after visiting an apartment they were considering purchasing for use by the school.
Several hours later, a crowd of mostly haredi Jewish protesters gathered at the scene of the attack, decrying violence against Jews in Jaffa.
In response, Arab-Israeli counter-demonstrators taunted the Jewish protesters, chanting, “Settlers, go home!”
After police were called to enforce a safe distance between the two groups, the Arab-Israeli side of the demonstration devolved into a riot.
Police were pelted with stones, fireworks, and other projectiles, and several Arab-Israeli protesters were arrested.
During the riots, a Jewish man who was driving through Jaffa was attacked by a mob who kicked his vehicle and threw a barrage of stones.
— dudi dolev (@dudi_dolev) April 19, 2021
During the attack, all the windows were shattered and he was forced to abandon his vehicle and fight his way through an angry mob, as the road was blocked by burning debris.
“I saw death with my own eyes,” the driver told Ynet. “I thought this was my end. I couldn’t sleep all night [after the attack.] I felt that they wanted to slaughter me. I saw murder in their eyes.”
At the same time, riots over Ramadan coronavirus restrictions in eastern Jerusalem saw the seventh consecutive night of clashes between Arab residents of the capital city and Israeli police.
Abu Shehadeh placed the blame squarely on the Jews who had considered buying an apartment in Jaffa.
“We are the victim,” he said. “The settlers want to show the Arabs who’s boss, and who’s the lord of this racist and shocking country.
“What happened was very difficult and unfortunately also predictable…The settlers came to cause a provocation,” he said.
He did not elaborate on how a Jew inquiring about buying an apartment in the Jewish State would constitute a “provocation.”
Abu Shehadeh then appeared to blame the tensions on the Muslim holy month, adding, “We are in the month of Ramadan, people are praying in the evening.”
“I’m proud of the youth of Jaffa who are always trying to defend [the city],” he said. He concluded the interview by calling on the police to release all the detained rioters.
“The State of Israel is not a shtetl in which Jews can be harmed,” Naftali Bennett, chair of the Yemina party, tweeted.
“The severe and overt violence against Rabbi Eliyahu Mali is a national disgrace.”