Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

There ought to be a law

21 August 2009

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz – 21 Aug 2009

The coupling of Arab toughs from Jaljulya and young Jewish girls, in the case of the murder last weekend of Aryeh Karp at the Tel Baruch beach, enflamed the people who respond to Internet news sites and phone in to radio talk shows. If they didn’t post a comment demanding the death penalty for the killers, they wrote something like: “This is what happens when girls go around freely with Arabs in Tel Aviv,” as one talkbacker had it. Following the ostensibly inter-religious murder, one might think that the law proposed by Meir Kahane in the 11th Knesset (1984-1988) – prohibiting mixed marriages and sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews, and imposing prison sentences on offenders – would pass in the parliament today with understanding, if not enthusiasm.

Currently the fight against intermarriage is spearheaded by the Yad L’Achim organization . Not long ago its chairman, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipschitz, wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, warning of “a fundamental failure in the Jewish education and values in the secular education system in Israel.”

Education Ministry director general Shimshon Shoshani replied, on behalf of the minister, that “there is no doubt that the generation connected to Judaism is dwindling,” and promised that in the coming school year, the ministry would begin taking measures to strengthen the values of Judaism and Zionism in schools.

Shoshani’s letter appears (in Hebrew) on the Web site of Yad L’Achim, a recognized nonprofit association whose donors enjoy a tax exemption. The site also states, in English as well, that most cases of relationships between Arab men and Jewish teenage girls or women, “lead to marriage, which then deteriorate into violence. Among the many serious problems that result from such relationships is the identity of the children. They are Jews, but are raised as Arabs.” The site reports that the organization tends to some 1,000 cases annually.

In recent weeks the local paper Zman Ma’aleh, which is published in the large West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, reported on a small group of residents who go out to various nightspots to “explain” to mixed couples that they seek love among their own kind. The group is headed by Shai Haim, a young, energetic and newly religious man, who stresses to us that he refrains from violence and that his activity and that of his group is conducted “in a pleasant manner.”

The phenomenon involves Israeli Arabs, but it is impossible to prevent their entry into a city or to impose sanctions on them, as could be done in the case of Palestinians living in the territories. But Haim has come up with a creative solution, which he shared with the local paper’s reporter, Avinoam Meir: After he and his colleagues “explain in every way possible,” as he put it, that a relationship between a Jewish woman and Arab man is “unhealthy,” they “do a search of their car, check to see if they have a criminal past and give them [traffic] tickets.” Haim confirms that his remarks were quoted accurately in the newspaper. We ask who has authorized him to write out tickets or to search vehicles.

“Let’s say I am a lawman in uniform,” he giggles. The truth is that during the day, he serves as a parking inspector for the Jerusalem Municipality. It should be noted that the Israel Police has complained that the uniforms of the capital’s parking inspectors bear too great a resemblance to regular police uniforms.

The day after the incident at Tel Baruch, Haim sounded agitated: “It hurts me that Arab guys are touching Jewish girls, and soldier girls at that. Why are they coming into our space? There should be a law against this. I will see to it that there will be a group of guys, and I’ll be their chief of staff.” He related that a week ago, he “gave a pep talk to the guys to deal with Arabs who go with Jewish girls,” and in the wake of that, the group went to the local pub and beat up two Arabs.

The commander of the police station in Ma’aleh Adumim, Chief Superintendent Uri Yoran, knows Shai Haim. A few weeks ago, Haim, accompanied by two rabbis, visited Yoran to discuss “problems of assimilation among Jewish girls.”

Yoran: “I made it clear to them that it is not permissible to do anything against people who hold blue [Israeli] identity cards, and that I will not condone harassment of Muslims who come into the town legally.”

Last week, Zman Ma’aleh reported on a squad calling itself Shlom Hano’ar (Youth Protection) that operates in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of northern Jerusalem. These people also go out every evening in search of mixed couples. They told Moshe Zigdan, the paper’s editor, who accompanied them, that recently they came upon two teenage girls who had run away from home, in the car of Palestinians.

“We bought them clothes so they would feel good, but they went back to the Arabs and they phoned us and claimed that the Arabs were beating them,” Zigdan reported. “We informed the police, who arrested two Arabs and freed the girls.”

One of the “leaders” of the squad, Moshe Ben Zikri, also newly religious, relates that for two months now, some 20 volunteers have been working with him, and “go out to the field” every evening. “From the religious point of view, we want to prevent Jewish girls from going out with Arabs,” Ben Zikri says. According to him, policemen also cooperate with them, checking out Arabs who meet with underage Jewish girls and reporting to their parents.

Jerusalem Police District spokesman Chief Superintendent Shmuel Ben-Ruby says that he has no knowledge of any such cooperation or of the phenomenon, in general. To date, he adds, no complaint has come in to the police from Palestinians or from Jewish girls against the “guardians of morality” from Pisgat Zeev.

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