Today riots occured in Umm el-Fahm, a town in Israel with a large Arabic population, between locals and Jewish ultra-nationalists. The British newspaper The Times reports:protest_08_585x435_508826a

Rising ethnic tensions were underscored in Israel today as violent clashes took place in one of Israel’s biggest Arab towns between Jewish ultra-nationalists and local youths.

Police dispersed rock-throwing Arab residents of Umm el-Fahm with stun grenades and tear gas in the town, which is close to Israel’s boundary with the occupied West Bank.

The outbreak of violence took place following a march by right-wing Jews aiming to demonstrate sovereignty over the town, which has a strong Islamic movement.

Michael Ben-Ari, a lawmaker from the far-right National Union party who took part in the march, said: “I want to say that if we don’t wave the flag in Umm el-Fahm … we will bring a state of Palestine all the way to Tel Aviv.”

Among the leaders of the march was Baruch Marzel, who led the anti-Arab Kach party that was banned in 1994 and who has been questioned several times by police in connection with attacks on Arabs.

Umm el-Fahm is in an area of Israel where many of the country’s 1.5 million Arab citizens live, and which Mr Lieberman wants to to cede to a future Palestinian state in exchange for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Mr Lieberman has been slated to become foreign minister in the Netanyahu coalition. protest_10_585x435_508828a

More than 2,000 police were deployed as a buffer between the flag-waving Israelis, including many from openly anti-Arab political groups, and residents of Umm el-Fahm. Toward the end of the march, scores of townspeople, some bearing Palestinian flags, threw rocks at the Jewish demonstrators and at police, who responded with teargas and water cannon. At least 16 residents and 15 police were injured. Reports suggested that a senior police chief was also hurt.

Jamal Zahalka, an Israeli Arab MP, slammed the Jewish demonstrators as racists. “Racism is not freedom of expression, it’s a criminal act and the law should punish it,” he said.

The fact that far-right, anti-Arabic organizations exist and conduct aggressive demonstrations such as this one, with what looks like the protection of Israeli Police, is alarming. Extreme nationalism and fanatical religious views, among Jews as well as Arabs, seem to cause a lot of tension in Israel.

In Art Spiegelman’s Maus we can see how Jews were treated under Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish regime. The far-right anti-Arabic groups in Israel expressing ideas such as “if we don’t wave the flag in Umm el-Fahm … we will bring a state of Palestine all the way to Tel Aviv,” to some extent resonates the Nazis’ fear of the Jews and their efforts to make German towns “Jew free.”

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