Racists Vandalize Christian and Muslim Holy Sites in Israel

Anger gripped Fureidis, an arab village south of Haifa, on Tuesday, after unidentified racists sprayed graffiti on a mosque and slashed dozens of tires the previous night, in a so called “price tag” attack. Graffiti reading, “Shut down mosques, not yeshivas,” was sprayed on the walls both outside and inside of the mosque. The vandals also spray-painted a Star of David. They slashed the tires of cars belonging to the local residents.

"Shut down mosques, not yeshivas" sprayed on the outside of the mosque in Fureidis (Photo: Al Ittihad)

“Shut down mosques, not yeshivas” sprayed on the outside of the mosque in Fureidis (Photo: Al Ittihad)

In response to the vandalism, a general strike was called for Wednesday in the village of some 12,000 residents, and all schools and businesses will be shut down. On Tuesday night, thousands took part in a protest march through the village, among them Hadash chairman MK Muhammad Barakeh, calling for an end to extreme-right “price tag” attacks and for police to find the perpetrators. In addition, dozens of residents of nearby Zichron Ya’acov and other Jewish towns came to protest, in solidarity against the racist attacks.

Fureidis village chairman Yunes Marai, a member of the Zionist right-wing Likud party, told Israel Radio: “They wrote many things on the mosque wall. They wrote that we have to close down the mosques and build yeshivas in their place. We live here in the State of Israel, a democratic state, we do not live in the West Bank and not in the [Gaza] Strip.”

Though racist attacks began in the West Bank, the past few months there has been a marked increase of “price tag” provocations within the Green Line. Just since December there have been six attacks, with property damage and anti-Arab graffiti reported in Jaljulya, Umm el-Fahm, Kafr Akbara, Kafr Kasim and Baka al-Gharbiya, in addition to Fureidis. Hadash MK and resident of Umm el-Fahm, Afo Agbaria, pointed out that Monday was Holocaust Remembrance Day and that many spoke out against rising anti-Semitism against Jews in Europe, saying that the vandalism is no different from fascist and neo-Nazi anti-Semitic acts.

MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) told “The Jerusalem Post”: “We call on the government to take the matter more seriously. We cannot believe that the security forces in Israel are unable to put their hands on them, to find them and bring them to justice.” We condemn these actions carried out by “the religious extreme Right against Arabs. It is disgusting,” he said. Asked if he sees a correlation between the attacks and the peace talks, Swaid responded that he does not. “It is because of racism,” he said.

Right-wing extremists also vandalized Tabgha church on Tuesday located on the northwestern shore of Lake Tiberias in Galilee. The racists vandalized the church pews and smashed the cross. Meanwhile, a Jewish extremist handed Monday night a written threat to the housemaid of Catholic bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.

According to “Al Ittihad” the communist daily newspaper in Arabic, the threat was made by a Jewish extremist from Safad against Marcuzzo himself and the Christian community, which stated that they have until May 5th to leave the so-called “Land of Israel”, or otherwise they will pay dearly in lives for that. MK Barakeh stated “Threatening the Latin Bishop of Nazareth demonstrates the historical fact that all Arabs, Christians and Muslims alike, are targeted. Our battle has never been sectarian or religious but national.”