Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Peki'in Pogrom: A Conspiracy of Silence?

I hate the word "conspiracy". Say the word and you're immediately branded as an avid reader of the National Enquirer.

And yet...I've received a powerpoint presentation so many times in the past 24 hours, that it's hard to ignore. Arutz Sheva has a similar story today as well.
First, some background on Peki'in: The Galilee city of Peki'in s populated primarily with Druze families, but there are also a number of Muslim, Christian and Jewish families living in the village. Peki'in is also home to a very unique Jewish family. The Zenati family has continuously lived in Peki'in there since Second Temple times, and are the only known family to have lived in Eretz Yisrael continuously since then.

The old synagogue in Peki’in is located in the heart of a village that is one of the most charming and interesting in the country.

A tiny cave in the heart of the village is reputedly the place where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Mishnaic-era sage, and rebel against Rome, hid with his son from the Romans.

No knows how old the shul is; the last time it was restored was in 1890, yet the Zenati family claims that 2 of shul's stone carvings said to have been brought here for safekeeping by refugees fleeing the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Source: here
Two weeks ago, I reported on my blog about the cellphone-tower riot in Peki'in, how the Israeli police went in with over 300 policemen at night, a policewoman was held hostage by a mob of Druze Arabs, and how the mob wounded over 30 wounded policemen and MDA paramedics. (There were also wounded on the mob's side).

I barely noted at the time that a Jewish home was destroyed, thinking it had been part of the general mayhem.

However, Arutz Sheva and the powerpoint presentation I received paints a much more sinister picture.

"While the generally accepted version is that the riots were caused by a police raid following an attack on a cell phone transmission tower, Ynet published an account Wednesday afternoon of the suffering of the Jewish inhabitants of Peki'in at the hands of a violent Druze nationalist gang – then abruptly pulled it from the front page and hid all direct links to it.

According to this version of the story, the Jewish families living in the ancient village said that the transmitter was "just an excuse" for violence and that six of the eight Jewish families' homes in ancient Peki'in were either burned or ransacked in the morning after the riots that received media coverage. "

Jewish Peki'in resident Orit Ziegelman recounted the harrowing night between Monday and Tuesday thus: "All night long masked youths roamed about, armed with clubs and live weapons, guns and grenades. There was constant firing in the air. Overnight our car was burned, again. Then the police came, with all of the stories that were in the media. We went out in the morning [on Tuesday] as if everything was normal… but there was something bad in the air. It was clear that something bad was about to happen. 30 minutes after we left we were told that our house had been completely burned. To the ground." Ziegelman said she would not go back to her home after it was torched. "I don't intend to be a victim," she said.

Margalit Zenati, an elderly Peki'in native from the family that has lived there since Second Temple times, said the troublemakers are Druze nationalist youths: "Until yesterday, we thought there were only a few dozen of them, but now it's clear there are between 100 and 200 of them," she said. (Arutz Sheva)

I can't find the original YNET reports describing the suffering of the Jewish inhabitants of Peki'in at the hands of a violent Druze nationalist gang.

All I could find now was the obvious "conciliatory" posting about how everyone kissed and made up.
Both sides said that the atmosphere in the meeting was pleasant and friendly. “We had coffee and went out for a joint tour of the town… we proved that Peki’in is a quiet place, and we invite everyone to visit here,” said Peki’in local council head Muhammad Khir. YNET
I find the above hard to accept in light of the PowerPoint presentation going around. It's signed by the author Gil Sapir, together with his phone number and address, and describes the destruction of his daughter Orit's home in Peki'in. (same Orit as mentioned above).

Gil's powerpoint presentation in Hebrew shows the following pictures of his daughter's home, which were a result of the Druze mob (or pogrom as he calls it). (Rough translation by me)

The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.

We were taught that State of Israel would be a place where pogroms would no longer take place.

On Tuesday, October 30th, a pogrom against Jews occurred, in the State of Israel.

The Story:

On Friday, the 26th of October, Druze Arabs teenagers from the ancient Peki'in village burned down a cellphone antenna in the new Jewish area of Peki'in.

The police did not interfere.

On their way back from the attack, the teenagers threw a shock grenade at a Jewish home in ancient Peki'in.

Miraculously, the Jewish owner of the home was not harmed by the grenade which exploded next to him.

On the 27th of October, Saturday evening, the Druze teenagers went to the new Jewish neighborhood of Peki'in and destroyed again the fixed antenna.

This time, the police were waiting for the teenagers, back in their village of ancient Peki'in.

A battle ensued between the mob and the police, including tear gas. Again, a grenade was thrown at the same Jewish home in ancient Peki'in.

At 1:00 AM one of the Jewish families decided to flee the mob, squashed themselves into their grandfather's car, and were safely escorted out by the Israeli police.

The mob torched their remaining family car.

The family returned the following afternoon. (Sunday)

The Jewish family in the home which had been attacked by grenades remained in Peki'in, as the Israeli police were unable to safely evacuate them.

On Monday the 29th, masked Druze Arabs started to roam the ancient village with batons and guns.

At 4:00 AM on Tuesday, the police started to make arrests. 5 Druze Arabs were arrested.

During the arrest, a battle broke out and the Druze kidnapped an Israeli Border policewoman.

After negotiations between the town's Druze elders and the police, the policewoman was released...and in exchange the Israeli police released the 5 Druze they had arrested.

After the prisoner exchange took place, the Israeli police left Peki'in.

The Jewish family that had left previously decided that the Druze rage had been directed against the Jews...and decided to leave.

Another Jewish family fled as well.

Two Jewish homes were completely destroyed by the Druze mob, and two more homes were damaged.

This has nothing to do with cellphone towers.

It was a pogrom against Jews for being Jews.

The Israeli media is not reporting this story, so I wanted people to know that pogroms against Jews occur in the State of Israel.

Trying to be a responsible blogger, I just called up Gil Sapir to ask him a few questions. I do not know him, and introduced myself to him (not as Jameel), but with my real name and location, and explained that the story seems rather bizarre. He said it was true word for word.
Jameel: YNET reported that a "conciliatory" meeting between Peki'in's Jewish and Druze residents took place this past Friday. Did this meeting indeed take place? Was your daughter at that meeting?

Gil: The meeting took place exclusively between the Jewish owner of the cellphone tower that was burned down and the Druze population. No one has contacted my daughter about any sort of apology for her home's destruction.
So why does Israel want this hushed-up? That's another discussion.

If you feel like making a donation to help these families...

If you do not need a receipt as an Israeli tax-free donation
Amutat Morsehet Galil Elyon (checks payable to same name)
POB 350
24952 Maalot Tashicha
If you need a receipt (as an Israeli tax-free donation, but not US)
Yeshivat Hesder Maalot
POB 350
24952 Maalot Tashicha
attn: Naftali

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


JoeSettler said...

I recall reading in one of the mainstream online papers that the police were now allowing the Jewish residents to return to their homes. Not much about why specifically the Jewish residents weren't able to be in their homes.

I can't find the link right now.

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H No, Jameel, this couldn't possibly be true. There aren't any investigatory commissions popping up all over the place.

Are you suggesting that the Israeli government places a lesser value on Jewish lives than Druze,...or Muslim?

I'm shocked,...truly shocked!


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