Violence in Akko
The five days of rioting, stone-throwing and arson in Akko seemed to have petered out as we went to press. But the stark reality of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel remains. Whether or not the outbreak of violence was caused by Tawfik Jamal’s alleged reckless driving and disregard for religious feeling, or by a Jewish mob trying to lynch him, the fact that the incident that sparked the unrest took place on Yom Kippur only makes it more poignant. The quarter of Israel’s population that is not Jewish is feeling more and more ostracised and disenfranchised. The wake-up call exactly eight years ago, when 12 Israeli Arabs were killed in the rioting that took place at the start of the Second Intifada, seems to have gone unheeded. Jewish politicians and pundits might have a point when they complain about lawlessness and disloyalty to the state among a small minority of Israeli Arabs; but the deplorable state of the infrastructure in many Arab towns and villages, the lack of adequate planning, the dilapidated equipment in schools, are a disgrace for a democratic society. For now, the speedy intervention of political and religious leaders on both sides seems to have defused the immediate manifestation of the tension. But if the new Israeli government does not speedily launch a serious programme to integrate the Arab community, there may well be another round of rioting just be around the corner.