During the ethnic violence that rampaged through Israel last month, a mob of radical Jewish nationalist said: “any Arab we see here is dead”. As we read in CBC:
Shoshy Stavy’s grandfather opened the Paz gas station in 1952. It became a meeting place for Arabs and Jews, situated at a busy intersection not far from Caesaria, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a home. There are also smaller Jewish and Arab towns nearby.
Jurban and Shab have worked there for years. They knew customers by name, so to suddenly be hunted simply because they’re Arab had them in disbelief.
“We said to each other, what do they want from us?” Jurban told CBC News through an interpreter.
“Both of us have worked here for over 15 years and everybody knows one another, so why us of all people?”
As he saw the mob of Jewish men approach that night, Naaman Stavy could immediately sense trouble. He had seen the violence in other parts of the country so his first thought was to protect his workers.
“They were prosecuting Arabs just because they were Arabs,” he told CBC News.
That night, he said, had echoes of the Holocaust, of Jews hiding from the Nazis. Except now it was a Jew hiding Arabs from other Jews.
“It was pure hatred driven by ideology,” he said.
“When they did find someone they suspected was Arab, they hit windows with clubs. They had planks of wood; they broke the windows, and I saw drivers escaping terror,” Naaman said.
Meanwhile, Shoshy tried to talk to the men in the crowd.
“They said, ‘you don’t have to worry, you’re Jewish but any Arab we see here is dead,'” she told CBC News.
She watched in horror as the crowd attacked an Arab man who was walking nearby.
“Everyone was all over him and just kept beating and beating and beating him. He was already on the floor and they kept going,” she said. “I’ve never witnessed such violence.”
Luckily a nearby business owner rushed in and stood over the man, pushing the crowd back as Shoshy got police who were stationed nearby. Two Arab men were taken to hospital that night.
As fires raged from barrels and the crowd swarmed anyone they suspected was Arab, Naaman said even he didn’t feel safe.
“I was shouting, ‘I’m a Jew, I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish.’ And that was really terrifying,” he said, noting some in the crowd asked about his political opinions, a sign he said that they were targeting anyone with left-wing views.