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THE TIMES, London - 11 October 2000:
MOB DRIVES ARABS FROM TEL AVIV RESTAURANT
FROM SAM KILEY IN HATIKVA, TEL AVIV
"The level of rage that has driven the Arabs
of their country to hurl themselves at policemen
armed with automatic weapons has terrified Israel's
Jewish population, who now see the whole of the
Arab world, including the one million Arabs who
are Israeli citizens, as the enemy."
SHORTLY after the end of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of
Atonement, on Monday night the roar of a crowd echoed down
Etsel Street as a mob of about 2,000 Jews wanted blood - Arab
They stormed into the Yehuva Avazi, one of Israel's most famous
restaurants, dragged out the clients, locked in the ethnic Arab
Israelis who worked there and tried to burn them alive. As rocks
crashed through the windows and the waiters cowered, watching
the flames lick up the curtains, the framed photographs of Simon
Le Bon, the pop star, as well as Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, the
Prime Minister, and other celebrities smiled down from the walls.
Owned by a partnership of Jews, the Yehuda Avazi, a kosher
restaurant employing Arab staff, was a place of pilgrimage for
international food fanatics keen to try dishes such as udder and
turkey testicles. Now it has become a symbol, and a victim, of
Jewish paranoia. The 20 Arab workers escaped the blaze by
hiding in a fume-filled back room, protected by the police.
Estelle Korim, who worked in a kebab shop across the street,
said that all the ethnic Arabs who worked in the bustling street of
shops and eateries, had fled. "I'm glad they have gone. I am afraid
they want to kill us all and take over the country. They have all
gone because if they stay, the Jews will kill them," she said.
For the past decade, led by the late Mr Rabin, Israelis have been
inching timorously towards a feeling that peace by negotiation with
the Arab world was, perhaps, possible.
Their textbooks have recently been changed to try to show that
there is an alternative view to the few against the many perception
of Israelis.However, two weeks into the al-Aqsa intifada, Israel's
hopes of ending the culture of obsessisve self-defence lie smashed
amid the broken glass at the Yehuda Avazi restaurant. And in the
ashes of two Jewish banks, a Burger King and a Jewish clothes
shop, which were destroyed by Israeli Arabs in Nazareth.
"I sometimes get the impression we are moving apart from each
other, breaking up into ethnic and other groups who define
themselves in terms of hostility or enmity to he who is different,"
Mr Barak said at a memorial ceremony in Jerusalem for the dead
of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Then, in a warning that had the chill
of prophesy, he added: "This process is more dangerous to us than
any enemy or any external war."
Most of the dead from two weeks of clashes between Palestinians
and Israeli soldiers have been Palestinians. The next largest group,
11 dead, are ethnic Israeli Arabs. But the level of rage that has
driven the Arabs of their country to hurl themselves at policemen
armed with automatic weapons has terrified Israel's Jewish
population, who now see the whole of the Arab world, including
the one million Arabs who are Israeli citizens, as the enemy.
Mordechai Gilat, the Israeli commentator, summed it up: "The
mobs remind us of Bosnia and Kosovo."
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