There was a group of Israeli demonstrators just beside the “UNESCO Circle for Tolerance and Peace”, at the lower entrance to the wonderful Bahai Gardens, in the touristic area of the German Colony in the center of Arab downtown Haifa… There were some 30 of them, most of them young, waiving Israeli flags. On the other side of Carmel Avenue there was a small spontaneous Palestinian counter demonstration that soon outnumbered the intruders. But the police outnumbered both groups by far…
It might be better described as a shouting match, with both sides trying to insult and out-shout the other side. But at some point our side fell silent – as the Zionists were waiving their flags, singing and dancing enthusiastically. We wanted to hear better, to be sure what this rhythm that made them so excited was. They were celebrating the achievements of the Israeli army in Gaza by singing and dancing: “In Gaza there is no studying, there are no children left!” (In Hebrew it sounds better, it even ends by a rhyme…)
Preparing for the worst
The general political atmosphere in Haifa during the past month was quite terrible. While during the second “Lebanese War” in July 2006, and during the Zionist Christmas eve onslaught on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, there were almost daily anti-war demonstrations, this time is different.
Even before the beginning of the attack on Gaza on July 7, we lived through a month of Zionist incitement, which meant, on local level, that almost every quite Palestinian protest vigil finished with some of the participants being detained.
This, of course, didn’t deter us from demonstrating against the massacres rampage as it was launched. There was a small protest in the German Colony on the first day of the attack, and a bigger one on Monday 14/7, in Emil Habibi Circle in Wadi Nisnas, which developed into a spontaneous march through the streets of The Wadi, Haifa’s main Arab center.
For the next weekend two big demonstrations were planned. The youth movements (Al-Herak Al-Shababi) called for a march on Friday 18/7, to start in Abbas Circle and march through the Arab neighborhoods. The “Democratic Front” (Al-Jabha Al-Dimokratiya) called for Jews and Arabs to march together on top of the Carmel Mountain, in Moria Avenue, the main route of the Jewish city.
Toward these demonstrations there were even more Zionist incitements, with Haifa’s Mayor, Yona Yahav, which in most times proud himself for presiding over a peaceful center of coexistence, taking a leading role. He called on the police to prevent the demonstrations, even though the Jabha’s demonstration was licensed by the Police under a court order, and even called on them to prevent Arabs from outside Haifa that want to take part in the demonstrations from entering the city.
On Friday the Youth peaceful demonstration was brutally attacked by a big police force, with the Yassam “anti-riot” squads. Some 30 demonstrators were arrested and many were injured.
But the real horror was in the Carmel’s Jewish district, where thousands Zionist fascists gathered to hunt down demonstrators and Arabs in general, shouting “Death to the Arabs!” Many people were beaten on their way to the demonstration, between them Haifa’s Arab deputy mayor Dr. Suhail Assad. After some buses with demonstrators were attacked and their windows broken, the rest of the buses didn’t even try to enter Haifa, just as the mayor wished. The police didn’t do anything to stop the pogrom, until after the Anti-War demonstration was dispersed. Many hard-core demonstrators said this was the most frightening such event they have ever seen. (For a detailed report of this night you may read a previous post in Free Haifa.)
There was not much protest in Haifa since this weekend. We were going to demonstrations in Nazareth, Shefa’amer, Akka, Al-Lid, Tel Aviv and many other places – but Haifa stayed quiet, somewhat traumatized.
When the news came that the right wing is preparing to demonstrate in the German Colony this Saturday, 9/8, supposedly in front of the “Friendship Club” (Nady Al-Ukhuwa) of the Democratic Front, there was some concern. Till now the Right in Haifa almost never enters the Arab neighborhoods. But now, after they smelt blood in the Carmel, would they dare attack us at our homes?
At the event this was not frightening at all. The famous “secret police” officer, who stays on the other side of the street in our demonstrations, was chumming with the few demonstrators, and one of our secret observers heard him asking why so few people showed up. “You know, we put the invitation on Facebook, and these are the people that came”, was the honest answer.
People from different Arab and Democratic parties gathered early to protect the Ukhuwa club, but the right wingers were kept by the police at safe distance near the UNESCO Circle. We went there to have a look. When there is not so many of them they are almost ridiculous. Here are some more slogans we learned:
- “Gaza is a parking” – probably in praise of the flattening of neighborhoods…
- “Bring me Hummus, Chips and Salad” – portraying their view of their relations with local Arabs.
- “You Don’t Have a State!” – Something we already noticed.
- “A Jew is a soul – An Arab is a son of a whore!” –a racist version of a common football chant.
Most of the other stuff I will not repeat here, as it was graphical sexual abuse.
At one point we were astonished again. They all started to sing, to the rhythm of a Hassidic hymm: “The entire world hates Israel!”… We almost joined them.