Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

Take a minute for a different protest

own work
own work

When you see a line of people dressed in white filing down the Tel Aviv protest route Sunday evening, you might imagine it’s a funeral procession for Israeli democracy. But each of the 130 coffins they bear represents a real death, Palestinian citizens of the state murdered under the watch of our Minister of Internal Insecurity. The “Death March” they are staging is meant to remind us that while the government coalition spent their days hardening the “unreasonableness law” and ramming it through the Knesset, people are getting murdered in ever larger numbers in broad daylight. It’s only the beginning of August, and we’ve topped the highest yearly record (126 in 2021).

Were some of the murdered ones “criminal elements?” Undoubtedly. Not so different from our government coalition, which might be the most corrupt crime syndicate of all.

Our Minister of Internal Insecurity, Itamar Ben Gvir, took office promising to deal with the crime wave and with the bloody flood of murders washing the country. In the meantime, organized crime and killing have only increased.

Here are some facts: as of June, 2023, the number of police was around 2,000 fewer than the number deemed necessary, and they reportedly hoped to draft 3,200 more. On top of that lies the burden of policing the numerous demonstrations over the past half year, which have taken countless police hours.

In the first four months of the year, 72% of those murdered were Arab. By the middle of June, 11 of those murders had been solved.

In the meantime, Ben-Gvir has blamed the current killing spree on the attorney general, for preventing administrative detention (which would be a blatant infringement of civil rights), and the previous government (which had actually managed to start rounding up illegal weapons). In a conference he attended in Nazareth in June on community security, Ben-Gvir told the attendees that the Arab communities must be the ones to root out the crime in their midst.

The conclusion many voiced: There is no trust between the minister and the Arab communities. The end result might be counterproductive and even dangerous for those communities.

Ben-Gvir has blamed the current killing spree on the attorney general and the previous government

Murder victim number 100, Sarit Ahmed, was reportedly killed because of her sexual identity. Victim number 101 was studying to be a geriatric care professional. The day before, five people were killed at a car wash. Salim al-Huwasheh was killed by a stray bullet in front of his eight children. The murdered are young children, teens, women and men.

Some more facts: Around 40% of young Palestinian male citizens of Israel are unemployed. Crime families are taking up the slack. Estimates of illegal weapons numbers range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. They come from army stores; they come from the West Bank and Jordan; they come from everywhere, unimpeded.

Even a county that dissolves into chaos, unreasonableness and rage – even the most extreme, racist government ever – still bears a basic responsibility to its citizens, including protecting their lives. We can demand no less.

If you agree, you are welcome to join. Habima Square. 19:00. White clothing optional.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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