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An Israeli city where Jews and Arabs lived as neighbors who now see unprecedented violence

At first glance, the Israeli city of Lod in central Israel seems to be simply closed for a siesta. The weather is hot, the shops are closed and even the call from the nearby mosque seems ready for a nap. But the shell of a burned-out car sits on a street in the center of the city, and there are traces of burns in the synagogue just around the corner. An unusually large number of Israeli police officers are stationed on mostly empty streets. Lod has been in a state of emergency since last week, when violent and unprecedented inter-municipal violence erupted between Jews and Arab Israelis. Suliman Zabarka confronts some of the officers leaning against the walls in front of his restaurant, also with lids. He asks why they stood aside when Jewish rebels burned his property. A Palestinian Israeli citizen, Zabarka says police have not acted as they should, allowing tough Israeli nationalists “outside Lod” to take the law into their own hands. Neighbors now fear each other The riots began after Israeli police broke up a demonstration organized by Palestinian Arab Israelis at the start of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, which began more than a week ago. A man named Musa Hasuna was shot and killed on May 10, according to reports from a Jew. The next day, Jigal Yehoshua, a Jew, was hit in the head with a brick and attacked by Arab youths, according to reports. He died Monday from his injuries. The anger disappeared from the bottle. Five synagogues were set on fire as Arab Israelis reported bombings in their homes. Crowds took to the streets, and unrest quickly spread to other mixed cities in Israel. A Jewish settler and a Palestinian protester took pictures with each other on their phones on May 5 amid continuing tensions over a land ownership dispute in the Sheikh Jara district of occupied East Jerusalem. The settlers want to evict Palestinian families, claiming the land is theirs. (Ammar Awad / Reuters) Now people who once called themselves neighbors are scared of each other. “I fear for our lives. I have two children and I am unarmed,” said Tamer Nafar, standing on the edge of a square known as the Hebrew Triangle of Religions. “Look how beautiful it is,” he said. “You have a mosque, you have a church and a synagogue.” Nafar is a famous Lodz-born Palestinian rapper. He is also an activist who says the anger that has recently erupted in the streets among Arab Israelis stems from decades of racism and discrimination. Tamer Nafar, a well-known Palestinian rapper who was born in Lod, says the anger that has recently erupted in the streets among Arab Israelis stems from decades of racism and discrimination. (Stephanie Jenzer / CBC) “I mean, Israel doesn’t” doesn’t consider me an Israeli [national] the hymn says land for the Jews, ignoring the Muslims. “The things we experience here, from housing, from demolishing houses, the media only see it when it escalates and we try to create a dialogue for years.” On the second day of the unrest, Nafar said, he and his wife witnessed on the arrival on stage of armed Jewish hardliners. “So, I call the cops because I’m a born taxpayer and they take my money every week.” He says the police eventually shut him down. The arrival of settlers changed the character of the city. Palestinian Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s population and 30% of Lod’s population. But in recent years there has been an addition to the Lod mixture in the form of hardline nationalists and religious settlers moving to the city, part of the Garin Torani movement. “The main strategy was to establish settlements in mixed cities,” said Amnon Beeri-Sulitsanu of the initiatives of Abraham, an Israeli think tank that promotes equality between Jews and Palestinians and Arab citizens. Israeli paramilitary border police detain Jewish settlers during clashes between Israeli Arabs, Jews and Lod police on May 12 (Heidi Levine / Associated Press) demonstrate Jewish sovereignty or rebuild the area, if you will, “he said. The arrival of settlers has slowly changed the character of some parts of the city, and when riots broke out in Lod, Beeri-Sulizanu said reinforcements had been called in from Israeli settlements. Behind the corner of the Triangle of Religions, cars stop at a large yeshiva still bearing the marks of last week’s riots, and a yeshiva where Jewish students study traditional religious texts bears the marks of violence in Lodz. ) Young people dressed in the uniforms of nationalist religious Jews – knitted bales and long beards and ear locks – arrive for a meeting of volunteers. They set up a sort of neighborhood watchdog to protect the property of Jewish families fleeing the unrest. Police stand guard outside, blocks of dilapidated apartment buildings across the street, Israeli flags hanging from some of the windows. Arab women carry groceries in the building and up the stairs. “We are standing in front of a building [where] two Jewish families and four, six or seven Arab families have lived together for the past 10 years, “said Ayelet Wadler, a physicist and mother of six who lives a few blocks away.” They helped each other change their tires, carry groceries. And on Tuesday night, Monday night, suddenly their neighbors, who have lived with them for 10 years, point out to the rebels: “Here, this is theirs, this is a Jewish car. Burn it. “Ayelet Wadler, a physicist and mother of six who has lived in Lod for 15 years, says she is concerned that a number of Jewish families who lived nearby did not feel safe enough to stay in their homes. (Jean-François Bison / CBC) Wadler has lived in Lod for 15 years, saying she believes the Arab Israelis are responsible for what happened and is happy to see the men across the street. to gather, some of whom stare at bystanders and look menacing. “I don’t see vigilant.” I see people defending the house. “Wadler says she is extremely worried that a number of Jewish families did not feel safe enough to stay in their own homes.” They were refugees in their own country. This is unthinkable. This is something that cannot happen. “They will not leave and we will not leave” Her failure to link her comments to the history of her fellow Palestinians speaks volumes about the challenges of reconciliation and understanding in the country. Palestinians on both sides of the green line between Israel and the occupied territories refer to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 as al-Nakba, the catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have either fled or been forced to flee Israeli troops in the war that came with it WATCH | The ongoing conflict is fueling tensions in Israel’s mixed cities: Beyeri-Sulitsanu says many Jewish Israelis simply do not know the story. “They do not know that within Israel itself, about one-fifth of the Arab population in Israel is an internal refugee, including most Arabs living in Lod. They themselves are refugees because they arrive in Lod after 48 years from destroyed villages in Lod. all over Israel. “Haha Nakib examines one of several vandalized graves in a Muslim cemetery in Lod on May 14 as fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza intensifies. (Heidi Levine / Associated Press) Similarly, many Palestinian Arab Israelis do not understand the heartbreaking tremors that many Jews will feel at the mention of pogrom-like attacks on Jews. “Most [Arab Israelis] “I don’t understand the connotation and what I call the pain we Jews carry on our backs,” Beeri-Sulizanu said. They just aren’t aware of it. “The Torah scrolls, the Jewish scriptures, were removed on May 12 from a synagogue that was set on fire during violent clashes in Lod between Arab-Israeli protesters and police. (Ronen Zwulun / Reuters) It is difficult to imagine how the city will continue. Beyeri-Sulitsanu says the problem of the Arab-Israeli community is not with the Jewish community in Lod, but with the national religious settlers who have infiltrated it, but they seem increasingly established, a settlement in an Israeli city. Zabarka is convinced that it comes down to the local leadership, a mayor who serves only the interests of the Jewish community. “I live in the state of Israel and I have the same rights as any Israeli. But the state does not provide me [them]. I hope the mayor of Lod treats everyone the same. I hope he will pay attention to the Arab sector in this city. “Suliman Zabarka is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who owns a restaurant in Lod and says Jewish rebels have burned his property. He says he feels his rights are not respected and hopes the mayor will” treat everyone in the same way. “(Stephanie Jenser / CBC) Tamer Nafar says this is a symptom of a much deeper problem.” When the dialogue between us is “This is my country, the land for the Jews, not for you,” the whole dialogue has the color of superiority, “he said. “They need to understand that coexistence needs two sides to exist. They are not leaving and we are not leaving. “