Jewish supremacists visit social justice protests

How long can the social justice protests go on without defining what “social justice” means? While there was no official rejection of the Kahanists’ visit by protest leaders, some activists confronted them and skirmishes broke out

Yesterday far-right groups and prominent settlers, including extremist leader Baruch Marzel, showed up at the tent encampment on Rothschild Boulevard to “join” the protest,  donning “Tel Aviv is Jewish” shirts and other such racist garb. They expressed their desire for “social justice” in the form of more construction in the West Bank, and clarified that they do not want to bring down the government but rather empower it to bring about solutions. Ynet reported that some tent protest organizers had no problem with them being there, stating that it is a battle of all the people, right and left, while others clearly had a problem with their presence – and there were skirmishes between them yesterday.

Clashes between rightists and tent protesters (photo: Activestills)
Clashes between rightists and tent protesters (photo: Activestills)

Baruch Marzel, who lives in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside of Hebron, reportedly called out chants saying “Tel Aviv is Jewish, Sudanese go to Sudan.” This is obviously not the kind of person you want in your social justice revolution. I have come into contact with Marzel on several occasions, mostly while protesting illegal hilltops in the Hebron area, and I can assure you he is not a social justice activist.

Here is a report in Haaretz from one such action two years ago, in which Marzel physically assaulted an Israeli activist. It was all caught on tape, but unfortunately the YouTube channel carrying the video was hacked and removed. Here he is, in a photo I took that day, right after assaulting a non-violent Israeli activist:

He is also not very progressive on LGBT rights, to say the least:

Baruch Marzel and others protesting the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, 2009 (photo: Mairav Zonszein)
Baruch Marzel and others protesting the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, 2009 (photo: Mairav Zonszein)

Yesterday’s spectacle of far rightists at the tent protest visiting from their illegal settlements in the West Bank was significant because they were scuffling with fellow citizens, rather than their disenfranchised and discriminated Palestinian neighbors who they usually scuffle with.  They brought their extremist politics to a turf filled with secular Jews, activists, anarchists, gays and transgenders, making them appear the odd ones out.

This should be a clear sign to those in the movement that there is a need to formalize and sharpen definitions of “social justice,” even at the expense of alienating fellow citizens and calling attention to the deep cracks that divide Jewish society here. Today a Facebook event was started calling for a protest on Saturday in reaction to the visit, which will specifically assert that Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a multi-cultural city and calling for unity and tolerance, not fascism, homophobia and racism. This is a step in the right direction.

Indeed it is shared values that should connect the people in this movement, not shared citizenship.