Thousands of young Israelis, many of them children, rampaged through the Old City of occupied Jerusalem on Sunday chanting “Death to the Arabs” and other racist and anti-Muslim slogans.
Some attacked bystanders and journalists and banged on the shutters of Palestinian stores that had been ordered to close at midday.
The mob march was the climax of “Jerusalem Day,” an Israeli national holiday to celebrate the occupation of the eastern part of the city in 1967. Zionist militias ethnically cleansed and captured the western sector of Jerusalem in 1948.
Under international law, Israel’s purported annexation of Jerusalem following the 1967 conquest is null and void and is not recognized by any country in the world.
Sunday’s violent scenes began as occupation forces allowed large numbers of religious and nationalist Israeli Jews to flow into into the area of the Damascus Gate in the late afternoon.
This is an entrance to the walled Old City that was long a bustling market for Palestinians from surrounding villages until Israel made access to the city virtually impossible for millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Groups of young men and boys banded together in circles, chanting and dancing.
The atmosphere quickly shifted to that of an angry mob, which first turned on two women who held the Palestinian flag and then, with increasing frequency, toward random Palestinian bystanders and journalists, according to The Electronic Intifada’s Charlotte Silver, who reported from the scene.
Haaretz published a video of a mob attacking a Jordanian television crew and The Times of Israel captured video of young Israelis harassing a female journalist and preventing her from speaking to her cameraperson.
Many sang Bible verses set to popular music, often embellished or altered to justify Israeli rule over Palestinians. Among the numerous racist slogans was “A Jew is a soul, an Arab is a son of a whore.”
The frenzied, sustained and widespread nature of the racist vitriol is documented in a large amount of footage obtained by The Electronic Intifada, only a small part of which is included in this post. This video, shot by the Jerusalem resident known as Zalameh, provides a good sense of the mixture of Jewish extremism and outright racism on display:The video also shows two women holding a Palestinian flag being verbally abused.
But Israeli Border Police on horseback, armed with sound bombs and guns, kept most Palestinians out of the Damascus Gate area. Police monitored the crowd, attempting to intervene when a pack of marchers would attack someone, Silver said.
“May they all die”
In this video, several youths who spoke to Silver make virulently racist comments. One says that they had come to celebrate the “liberation of Jerusalem from the Palestinians,” others chiming in with “may their memory be erased.”“May they all die today, all together,” another interjects. A child asserts repeatedly that Jerusalem was “liberated” from “the donkeys.”
Similar expressions could be heard throughout the day from the chanting mobs.
Israel expert Dena Shunra notes that the curse calling for someone’s name or memory to be erased was typically used for enemies as despised as Adolf Hitler; its use by Jewish youths against Palestinians is an indicator of extreme levels of hatred.
While deeply disturbing, children cannot be held responsible for spouting such views. But the large number of children participating in the hate march underscores the systematic indoctrination and anti-Palestinian incitement to which Israeli youth are exposed.
Jewish women as Jewish “goods”
The marchers then entered the Old City, charging down the narrow streets which are usually full of Palestinian business owners and shoppers.
Members of the anti-miscengenation group Lehava, some again appearing to be very young, also took part in the march, shouting “Arab beware – my sister is not abandoned goods” (see video at the top of this post).
They also chanted, “Girls of Israel, for the Nation of Israel [Jews].”
These are warnings to Palestinian men to stay away from Jewish women who are described, in effect, as property exclusively available to Jewish men.
The same marchers can also be heard singing “Kahane still lives” to the tune of a popular religious-nationalist song, “Our Father Still Lives” – which refers to Abraham.
Meir Kahane, the assassinated Brooklyn rabbi who founded the the Jewish Defense League, is thus elevated almost to the level of a biblical patriarch.
Kahane also founded Kach – an organization so racist and extreme that even in Israel it was outlawed and classified as a terrorist group.
He is most remembered for his demand that the entire Palestinian population be expelled from lands occupied by Israel.
Voices can also be heard chanting that the Muslim prophet Muhammad was a “homo” and a “son of a whore,” among other slogans calculated to provoke and denigrate.
The expressions of virulent, even genocidal, hatred for Palestinians are reminiscent of the “Death to the Arabs” marches in the city which culminated in the abduction and burning alive of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khudair last July.
Demolish Jerusalem’s mosques
Jewish extremist organizations handed out leaflets demanding that the Israeli government demolish Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock to make way for a Jewish Third Temple in their place.
The destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest places for Muslims, is a long-standing goal of some Israeli Jewish organizations backed and financed by the Israeli government.
The leaflet in the picture, collected at the Sunday march, states:
In honor of Jerusalem Day, we all demand of the Israeli government: to bring down the mosques on the Temple Mount so that we can build the Temple and renew the offering of sacrifices.
It is signed by an organization called “Returning to the [Temple] Mount.”
The atmosphere of intense hatred and religious-nationalist chauvinism was no doubt encouraged by a declaration from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people alone – and not of any other nation.”
With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation and analysis.