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November 23, 2014 2:28 pm

Ashkelon Mayor is Not Racist

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Ashkelon City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

On Thursday, Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni announced that he would suspend the work of Arab laborers renovating bomb shelters in a small number of nursery schools in his city. He also said he would be posting security guards at kindergartens near construction sites where Arabs are employed.

The storm that ensued makes the snowfall in Buffalo look like a flurry. Ironically, it is a tempest that resulted in a rare case of consensus among Israeli politicians, nearly all of whom immediately denounced Shimoni.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there was “no place in Israel for discrimination against its Arab citizens.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate Shimoni for violating the Equal Opportunities in the Workplace Law.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, Economy Minister Naftali Bennet and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stressed that “only a tiny minority” of Israeli Arabs are violent and warned against the evils of discrimination and racism.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz bemoaned the souring of relations between Arabs and Jews over the actions of a few jihadists.

Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog declared that even during difficult times, Israel has never taken discriminatory measures against its Arab citizens.

Meretz leader MK Zehava Gal-On called Shimoni’s edict illegal and immoral.

Ra’am-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi said that security should not constantly serve as an excuse for racism and apartheid.

The Israeli media also went ballistic, accusing Shimoni not only of criminal racism, but of engaging in it to “regain the spotlight he lost” when Operation Protective Edge ended and he was no longer in the news every day.

They failed to mention that the reason for his previous “fame” was that Ashkelon is situated a mere eight miles from Gaza, and suffered the highest number of rocket attacks from Gaza during the war. They also left out the part about terror tunnels leading from Gaza into Ashkelon, with one shaft discovered under a kindergarten.

A far more important omission during the initial blitz on Shimoni was the context in which he was operating when he made his decision to temporarily forbid Arab men from wielding sharp tools around Jewish children.

On Tuesday, two terrorists slaughtered four rabbis praying at a Jerusalem synagogue, killed a policeman who had come to their rescue, severely wounded several others and traumatized the survivors. The men who committed the heinous act, with the use of guns and meat cleavers, possessed Israeli identity cards. One of them worked at a nearby grocery store.

Three weeks prior to this massacre, which was celebrated widely in the streets of Gaza and cheered in the Palestinian Authority press, Jewish activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick — a leader in the campaign for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount — was gunned down by a terrorist outside of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, where he had just given a lecture. This attempted assassin, who had spent years in prison for previous terrorist activities against Jews, was an employee of the restaurant at the Begin Center.

In the interim between these two events, several other innocent Israelis were killed or wounded in stabbings and vehicular attacks, executed by Arab men who live and work freely among the rest of Israeli society.

During this period, which is being called the third intifada, terrorist states and organizations have been calling on Arabs in and around Israel to harm as many Jews as possible. On Thursday, a shipment of low-grade weapons headed for east Jerusalem, falsely labeled as Christmas ornaments, was intercepted by Israeli security services.

In addition, Hamas declared this Friday another “day of rage.”

Many residents of Ashkelon thus heaved a sigh of relief at Shimoni’s decree. Though the city’s official parents’ union condemned it, parents with children in the nursery schools in question held a demonstration on his behalf. Like Shimoni, they insisted that this was not due to a lack of faith in the majority of the Arab population in Ashkelon (which makes up 20 percent of the total), but rather to the current climate and special circumstances.

“I would rather be taken to the Supreme Court than, heaven forbid, to the funeral of a kindergarten child,” Shimoni told Channel 2 on Thursday evening.

Shimoni may well find himself at the wrong end of the law. But there is nothing in his behavior that warrants being labeled a racist. Willing to face ostracism and possible indictment in order to protect the weakest sector of his city from a palpable threat, he is exhibiting leadership.

Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.'” This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • Robert Davis

    This show of COWARDICE brings far more terrorism than some discrimination against arabs which would show them Israelis are not afraid of arabs nor leftist reactions such as those of the poltical class which gives in on every occasion showing their cowardice which inspires no respect.

  • felix



  • Knee-jerk reactions are bad, and this was a knee-jerk reaction.

  • art

    How many times have arab workers turned upon Israelis? Abbas plo hamas atah etc have all been calling for an infitada better safe than sorry. Why so few cries of racism when abbas directly calls of people who may be trying to kill you? Would you trust that the for the murder Jews. Would you want to rely on the work the strength of concrete the workmanship for the protection of your children

  • Mickey Oberman

    There is nothing at all wrong with putting yourself as far away as possible from those who might harm or murder you.

    A very wise man, the mayor.

    Mickey Oberman

  • Remy

    “I would rather be taken to the Supreme Court than, heaven forbid, to the funeral of a kindergarten child,” Shimoni told Channel 2 on Thursday evening.

    A good man’s comment.

  • Sam Harris

    The truth is: The Arabs want us dead!We don’t want them dead.

  • We are at war. Many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers as evil.
    We are at war. Many stubbornly and foolishly do not put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers as evil, they delude themselves that the Arabs do not want to destroy us. We are disgracefully politically correct to our detriment and at the cost of life to our people. Throughout history the Jews were bullied, used as scapegoats and persecuted by the various nations of the world. The world is not used to seeing a Jew who is strong, armed and fights for his freedom and rights, well the time has come for the world to realize the Jew will never again cower to atrocities and pogroms as happened in the past, since the destruction of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, with the Almighty’s help we will shall persevere against all odds.
    There are no Luftwaffe overhead or Panzer divisions on our borders. But make no mistake; we the Jewish people are under attack—our values, our tolerance, our freedom, our virtue, our land, and I specify our ancestral land for 4000 years – it was never in history an independent Arab country. Did anyone imagine in the 1920’s what Europe would look like in the 1940’s?
    We dare not wallow in complacency, in a misguided tolerance and naive sense of security. We must not be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders. Radical Islam is the curse of the world and this must be cried out from every house of worship. ISIS MUST BE DESTROYED. Iran is our enemy and they are a destabilizing factor in the Middle East which ignite a third World War. They are the new 21st century Nazis.
    These murderers, these barbarians are radical Islamists.
    This is an all out war. Show no mercy on them. They must be utterly destroyed. They want to murder Jews and we must destroy them first. WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID TO STATE THIS. MOST OF THE WORLD HATES US JEWS for no reason. We should stop appeasing the world and protect ourselves and Israel. Yes we have a few countries such as the U.S.A. to turn to and we have some friends from different religions, yet another holocaust is coming if we Jews remain silent and a third intifada has begun., never again, never forget, never forgive. I am a son of holocaust survivors. The nation of Israel and its people have survived for thousands of years and will continue to survive.
    Have Israeli Arabs ever tried to integrate into Israeli society as have the Druze? Or is it the opposite? Except when it comes to medical care and welfare, do they even see themselves as Israeli Arabs or do they see themselves as Palestinians residing within Israel? Yes, there are exceptions among the educated; fine doctors, lawyers, etc., but they are the exception. Muslims mission is to occupy other countries and than enforce their Sharia laws and their customs on the population at large and take over the hosting country.
    Israeli Arabs could have in the past, and now still could find the same acceptance and appreciation that the Druze have found. Why haven’t they? I think the answer is painfully clear. They want to destroy Israel and the Jews and they declare unashamedly those intention to the world at large.