Tonight: Joint Jewish-Arab Rally in Tel-Aviv vs. Racism & Incitement

In light of the tragic January 18 events involving home demolitions in the Arab-Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran — which took the lives of a local resident, Yakoub Moussa Abu al-Qee’an, and a policeman, Erez Levi — some 20 political, human rights and peace movements and groups, among them Hadash, the Communist Party of Israel and Meretz, will hold at 19:30 tonight (Saturday, February 4) a joint Jewish-Arab rally in Tel Aviv’s Magen David Square (Allenby Street corner of King George). The slogan chosen for the event is “A joint future: they destroy, we build. … This is the moment to stand together, Arabs and Jews, and to issue a clear call: all citizens are equal — both Arabs and Jews, and this home belongs to us all.”

Official poster for tonight's demonstration in Tel-Aviv against racism and incitement, on the backdrop of a policy of home demolitions in the communities of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Official poster for tonight’s demonstration in Tel-Aviv against racism and incitement, on the backdrop of a policy of home demolitions in the communities of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Calls to create a committee of inquiry to investigate police deadly conduct during the January 18 eviction of the residents of Umm al-Hiran in the south of Israel were initiated by Hadash and Joint List MKs even before the eviction of the settlers from the occupied West Bank illegal outpost of Amona on February 1. The gentle handling of the settler evacuation further substantiates the need for such a committee. Hadash and the Joint List are demanding an investigation into two main aspects of the incident. The first is the violent eviction of the village of Umm al-Hiran, which was built without permits, under orders more appropriate to a military operation. The second is the shooting death by police of Yakoub Moussa Abu al-Qee’an, who the authorities claim is guilty of a vehicular attack that led to the death of policeman Erez Levy.

There is no effective, official way to clear his name and remove the stigma of ‘terrorist’ with which the police have branded him, except through a committee of inquiry,” al-Qee’an’s widow, Dr. Amal Abu al-Qee’an’s, told the Al-Monitor website in her first media interview. “We don’t understand how the police were able to immediately determine that he had acted under the influence of the Islamic State and committed a terrorist attack without first investigating his background that of his family. We are convinced that he was not the kind of person who could even think of doing a thing like that.” She described to journalist Shlomi Eldar that her husband as an introverted educator, saying that he was quiet, calm and optimistic. There was nothing about his behavior to indicate that he intended to engage in an act of violence. “He had just bought a new car and new clothes and was planning to build a house. He had his whole life ahead of him,” she said.

Dr. Abu al-Qee’an is a medical doctor and also holds a doctorate in science education. She heads a research program at Kaye College and studies interfamilial marriages and genetic diseases in Arab-Bedouin society. Dr. Abu al-Qee’an has three young daughters, and here deceased husband also had four additional children from a previous marriage. One of them is finishing his medical studies, another is an engineer and the two girls are studying education at Kaye College. “Everyone in our family has at least a BA,” she said. One of the late al-Qee’an’s brothers is an inspector for the Ministry of Education, while another is a school principal. All of his nephews and nieces are doctors, medical students, pharmacists or nurses.

Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List in the Knesset, was hit in Umm al-Hiran by two rubber bullets during the eviction: one in the forehead and another in his back. In an interview with Al-Monitor, he said that the government’s refusal to create a committee of inquiry proves that it has something to hide.

“First they accused Yacoub [Moussa Abu al-Qee’an] of being a member of the Islamic State without even looking into his past or his family background. Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan echoed these claims,” said Odeh. “These events have left a stain on Yacoub’s good name. He was buried as a terrorist. They have stigmatized his family. And they have left a blot on all of Bedouin society. As a result of the event, the Bedouin are seen as living in a violent and dangerous society, which must be contained so as to prevent the ideas of the Islamic State from penetrating it. All of this happened without even looking into the accusations. They were all based on the single fact that an Israeli newspaper [Israel Today, which had headlines about terror attacks] was found lying in his home.”

Odeh added that there will be a mass demonstration in Tel-Aviv, tonight, February 4, to call for the creation of a committee of inquiry. “It is the only way we have to act and exert pressure,” he explained, noting he and his colleagues are also considering an appeal to the Supreme Court. They hope to petition the court to instruct the government “to investigate the incident and clear Yacoub’s name after a highly admired educator beloved by all of his students was made out to be a terrorist.” MK Odeh, Dr. Amal Abu al-Qee’an, Meretz chairwomen MK Zehava Galon and former Hadash MK Muhammad Barakeh, chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel will be among the speakers in the Jewish-Arab rally, tonight in Tel-Aviv.

Facebook page (in Hebrew and Arabic) for Tonight’s Jewish-Arab rally, in Tel-Aviv: