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Jerusalem soccer hooligans attack

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by Lisa Goldman

Last Monday, a mob of Beitar Jerusalem football fans rioted at the Malcha Shopping Center. Notorious for their racism, the fans’ chants often include “MAH-vet l’araVEEM” – death to Arabs; this can be heard in the amateur video below, starting from 2:36.

As Haaretz reports, hundreds of  Beitar hooligans swarmed into the mall following a game at the nearby Teddy Stadium. They “hurl[ed] racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor.” Then they mobbed three Arab women eating with their children in the food hall, yelling epithets and spitting on them. Some Arab men employed as cleaners came to the women’s rescue; they had only their broomsticks as weapons, but succeeded in chasing the hooligans away – albeit temporarily. But then…

… a few minutes later [the Beitar fans] returned and assaulted them. “They caught some of them and beat the hell out of them,” said Yair, owner of a bakery located in the food hall. “They hurled people into shops, and smashed them against shop windows. I don’t understand how none shattered into pieces. One cleaner was attacked by some 20 people, poor guy, and then they had a go at his brother who works in a nearby pizza shop and came to his rescue.”

The attackers also asked Jewish shop owners for knives and sticks to serve as weapons but none consented, witnesses said. Avi Biton, Malha’s security director, sent a force of security guards in an attempt to restore order, but they were outnumbered. He called the police who arrived in large numbers about 40 minutes after the brawl started. At about 10.30 P.M., they evacuated the mall and the management shut its doors.

Source: Haaretz

Gideon Avrahami, the director of the mall, called the riot “…disgraceful, shocking, racist incident” and apologized in person to the Arab workers. Avi Biton, the mall’s security director, promised to increase security measures when the next Beitar game was played at the nearby stadium.

Meanwhile, amongst the Israeli media only Haaretz newspaper published a report about this incident – even though it occurred five days ago. One would think that a major race riot in Jerusalem’s largest shopping mall, patronized by Jews and Arabs alike, would garner some significant local media attention. But no.

More shocking and insidious is the fact that, even though the riot was recorded by the Malha shopping centre’s CCTV cameras, no-one has been arrested. Why not? Well, said the police, because no-one filed a complaint.

Okay, let’s try a little thought experiment here. Imagine that a few hundred Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel rioted at the upscale Ramat Aviv mall in northern Tel Aviv. Imagine that they were fans of the Arab soccer team Bnei Sakhnin, that they waved team jerseys and scarves as they chanted “death to Jews” in Arabic and cursed and spat at some nice middle class Jewish women sipping cappuccinos with their children and sharing pains au chocolat at the Arcaffe. Imagine that they ran around the mall, asking for knives to attack the cleaning staff that was trying to protect the women from being attacked. And that they slammed some of those cleaners into plate-glass shop windows.

Imagine that all of this was was recorded on the Ramat Aviv shopping centre’s CCTV cameras.

And then imagine the police announcing to the media that they had not made any arrests because no-one had filed a complaint.

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