This entry was posted on Monday, October 1st, 2001 at 12:17 and is filed under Memorial Vigils, Umm al-Fahem. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
On October 1, 2001, the day chosen by the Arab community in Israel to commemorate the deaths of 13 of its members and the wounding of over 400 by Israeli police a year ago, Ta’ayush held actions of solidarity and remembrance in the North of Israel.
Over 200 Arab and Jewish activists took 60 private cars bearing protest signs and black flags in a convoy through downtown Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Kfar Saba, Tira, Taybeh, and Baqa el-Gharbiyya, collecting 40 more cars during the journey – on their way to Jat, whose community had lost a son, 20-year-old Rami Ghara, to police violence the previous year.
At 12:00 the convoy stopped by the side of the highway and joined a minute of silence and remembrance observed by all Arabs countrywide, but ignored by the Jewish establishment.
Ta’ayush continued to Jat and participated in Jat’s memorial ceremony, in which representatives of the village and of Ta’ayush spoke. At the grave, Rami’s uncle spoke movingly of the hope for true cooperation and common living between Arabs and Jews in Israel.
As the convoy exited Jat it was informed of the beginnings of violent confrontations between demonstrators and Israeli Police at the entrance to the Israeli Arab town of Umm El-Fahem.
Two busfuls of police and border guards, as well as about a dozen armed jeeps stormed young demonstrators at the entrance to the town, forcing them back into the town and entering after them.
Ta’ayush decided to be present, in order to deter police from using excessive force, and to prevent a repetition of last year’s bloodshed.
Activists spread out at Umm el-Fahem junction, monitoring the confrontation between the police forces and the demonstrators further up the road.
200 demonstrators stood, with local demonstrators from within the town, and called out slogans to end discrimination and police violence, and demanding full civil equality. Activists chanted ‘Arab-Jewish Brotherhood; Yes to Equality, No to Exclusion’ before the confused eyes of police and border guards, shielded and armed to the teeth.
No shots were fired on this day. On this day of polarization, Ta’ayush was a different voice, calling to stand together for a common end of civil equality, and calling the Jewish public to take responsibility for last year’s events, and join in the struggle for true civil justice.
At first the police agreed to our presence. But at 4:15 a high-ranking officer approached and demanded that we move further away; without waiting for a response, the forces forcibly pushed and beat activists. We resisted passively. Police arrested five activists: Ronen Wolf, Gadi Algazi, Lina Yassin, Gerardo Leibner and Yuval Levi. They employed violence, using clubs, shields, booted feet and fists, and continued beating the activists even after their arrest.
The remainder of the activists remained at the junction, until , when dusk fell, the police showed signs of leaving; the scale of confrontations diminished, and many of the forces retreated. After consultation with the representatives of the town, Ta’ayush activists returned home after dark, promising to return should the violence escalate again.
Throughout the day residents of Umm el Fahem welcomed us, and told us that our presence prevented unnecessary violence and even bloodshed. In contrast to last year, another voice was heard; the demonstrators were not left alone to their fate, and acts of solidarity demonstrated that there is an alternative to violence and discrimination.