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Mar-10-2010 03:38TweetFollow @OregonNews
The Heart and Soul of Israel
Tim King Salem-News.com
Israeli woman points and screams at an Arab man near Azad.
Images courtesy: Haifanet.co.il and YouTube
(HAIFA / SALEM) - Nationalism is a dangerous product in the wrong hands, and when you toss in a dose of religious extremism, the kind that leads to the genocidal decimation of an entire culture, you are on dangerous ground.
Welcome to Israel. This is a place where you can't run your own business; the Israeli military runs it. The IDF, according to Israeli law apparently, can decide what dress codes can be enforced, but only for Palestinian restaurant owners.
That is the story of Azad Restaurant, where a simple 'No Uniform' policy long in effect, has led to a closure notice from the city of Haifa.
But that's not enough. Indignant to the bone that a Palestinian would "dare" not serve an Israeli soldier in uniform, demonstrators gathered in front of Azad looking less like a protest and appearing more like a big ugly mob.
Haifanet.co.il published these images of the noisy demonstration organized by the right-wing blocs in universities in front of the restaurant Azad, under the pretext of its owners refusing to receive police and soldiers in their uniform.
This is a place where some Palestinian families have managed to remain, but they do so in the face of laws written to specifically favor the Jewish population.
Most can live with that, but sooner or later families, businesses and individuals run into the apartheid laws of Israel that play one way for Arabs, and a different way for Jews, that is unless they are left wing, in which case they are frequently branded self-hating Jews, as they rally against military occupation, and for peace.
Azad's owner faced death threats over this simple policy that almost instantly became an international incident. Note: here the real issues that exist; no terrorists, no 'rocket attacks', no Hamas, PLO or Hezbollah, just a gang of flag wielding, pissed off Israelis there to show this cafe that they won't be denying entrance to any of the occupational military forces.
Now this restaurant is going to close. Azad, which in Arab means 'The Free Person' or simply, 'Freedom'. It is quite ironic as it turns out, thanks to a 20-year old IDF soldier named Raviv Roth who decided to take revenge against the policies of this peaceful establishment, because he was asked to come back when he wasn't in uniform.
And there you have an example of the 'real' problems of this so-called 'defenseless' population of Israel.
It looks like the only entity getting "wiped off the map" is this quaint little cafe that people have enjoyed for a long time, with good food and a peaceful atmosphere.
I know the city officials in Haifa didn't start out wrong; in the beginning the city and the local police both confirmed that this business can make and enforce its own policy.
The complainant was originally told this by the police. But he knew he could take the place down; in Israel a nationwide draft forces every single person to join the military, including the sons and daughters of very wealthy officials, and people with big connections.
The word of a 20-year old soldier is all it takes to end the livelihood of a Palestinian family in Haifa who did no harm to anyone.
Along with all of this came death threats from a Facebook group page against Azad, on which Facebook allowed calls for direct violence. Others threatened to bulldoze the family home. Nice people, these Israelis.
This is the fourth story I have written about the plight of this place, that is owned by a friend of a friend. I think about it frequently, and can only imagine the helplessness that must accompany this experience.
It is what black Americans knowa all too well. The discrimination that these Israeli citizens exhibit is akin to the pressure put on their ancestors in Germany during the 1930's.
It wasn't cool to be a Jew in Germany then.
It isn't cool to be a Palestinian today in Israel.
If you step out of line there will be a mob in front of your place yelling at your customers, draping an Israeli flag over the sign of your business, while the police officers stand below, as if guarding the sad display.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.
Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org