Saturday, May 13, 2006

Israel: Russian Youth Attack Synagogue in Petah Tikva

Thank you to RandomPottins, for alerting me to this story.

Report from Ha'aretz, 11 May 2006:

Neo-Nazi gangs assaulting ultra-Orthodox Jews in Petah Tikva
By Moti Katz

A week after the desecration of the Great Synagogue in Petah Tikva, nothing remains of the horror the worshipers encountered there last Thursday when they arrived for morning prayers. The walls, which had been sprayed with swastikas and blasphemy, have been newly painted, the floor polished and the curtain covering the holy ark replaced. However, the danger is far from over. For the past two years the ultra-Orthodox community there, which includes some 5,000 families and 300 synagogues, has been subjected to incessant attacks by street gangs from the former Soviet Union (FSU).

The gangs have been beating ultra-Orthodox men, hurling curses at them and desecrating synagogues. "These youths feel out of place in the Russian community they belong to, but they are not accepted in Israeli society either," says Bella Alexandrov, the director of the multi-disciplinary youth center in Petah Tikva. She distinguishes between two kinds of immigrants - punks and skinheads.

"The skinheads buy Russian videos about 'white power' that call for cleansing Russia of Jews. They don't get it from home. It comes from not belonging and not finding answers to their distress."

On Sukkot eve last year, a number of teens bearing knives burst into the big Lithuanian yeshiva Or Israel on Rothschild Street in the city center. They started beating pupils, and throwing prayer books and scriptures on the floor. Yeshiva head Rabbi Yigal Rozen has no doubt that these incidents are anti-Semitic.

"There has always been violence in Israel, but never directed at synagogues. This started only in recent years. A month after the Sukkot incident, two yeshiva students were attacked and beaten up by Russian teens. The police arrested three of the attackers," he says. Most of the victims were dressed like ultra-Orthodox Jews, Rozen says, and therefore concludes that the assailants could not be Jewish.

"It's time the police realized these are anti-Semitic attacks. These gangs are not after money. The charity boxes were not robbed, nor were the Torah books, which are worth a fortune," he says.

Skinheads in the parks

Many of the incidents occur in the parks in the city center because numerous low-income immigrant families from Russia live there, says Rahamim Arbel, Jewish cultural coordinator for Petah Tikva's community centers. "On Friday nights Russian teens gather in parks with lots of alcohol and bongs. It's very unpleasant for the residents of the neighborhood," he says.

Arbel himself was attacked two years ago. He was with his small son and two friends, and they were returning from a lesson. On Rothschild street they were accosted by a group of drunk teenage boys and girls, aged 15 to 16. "They started swearing at us. I whispered to the others to walk away. The girls ran after us spitting and kicking. We fled. I got over it but my son will never forget that day," he recalls. An elderly man was attacked on Friday night a year ago but did not go to the police.

"I live in the center, near a park where the Russian gangs gather on Friday nights. Returning from a family visit I approached the park," he says. "A few boys demanded money and threatened me with a broken bottle. I told them I had no money because it was the Sabbath and went on walking. They knocked my hat off, kicked my shin and started kicking my hat. I tried to run and they followed me, cursing and throwing empty beer bottles. They were definitely harassing me because of my religious dress, because others passed by undisturbed," he says. "My parents survived the Holocaust. I come from exile and know what persecution is; and that's what I felt. Their appearance and the chains around their necks reminded me of neo-Nazis," he says.

A security camera on the menorah

Acting Mayor Paltiel Eisental tries to be reassuring. The relations between the city's secular and religious residents are very good, he says. This is a small gang, not a widespread trend, he says. "You must distinguish between vandalism due to theft and what happened in the Great Synagogue last week, which was brutality and hatred. I don't believe Jews could have done that. Those were acts aimed against a nation, against an idea. It's Nazism," he says.

The city council held an emergency meeting last week after the synagogue's desecration, and decided to safeguard the synagogue and find the vandals and indict them. Eisental says the city has a vandalism patrol in problem areas, but is having trouble reinforcing it due to a personnel shortage. "Every Hanukkah we put a nice big menorah at the yeshiva's entrance, right on the street," says Rabbi Rozen. "This year we were forced to put a security camera on it so that it wouldn't be vandalized," he adds sadly.

See: Haaretz Daily


Graeme said...

I think Putin had a hand in creating some of the nationalist sentiment in Russia. Now it seems as if it is growing too powerful and it is back firing on him

beatroot said...

But wait. These are anti-Semitic Iraeli citizens! That's novel.

I was in Israel for six months once. Lovely people.

Most of the newer settlers in occupied territories are Russian and Americans. These are the most fanatic Zionists in the country and ordinary Israelis are ashamed of them.

But the Russians are also the poorest ethnic group there. Unemployment, bad housing, bad schooling etc is rife in those communities.

So it's no suprise that there is a skinhead problem. And it also shows that the ideologically lite ruling elites in Israel these days are failing to keep the nation together. It's no good just pointing at the Palastinians as 'the problem'. It's they who are the problem.

Jennifer said...

Some of the Russians are neo-nazis now?

What I always used to say: Fools Russian.

beatroot said...

Please. This is a story about Israel...not Russia. The anti-Semite skins are Jewish! It happened in a place which is up near Jaffa, but inland near the west bank. It's one of the oldest towns in Israel, with established, Orthodox communities. The Russian Jews are newcomers who are not fitting in very well.

Putin had nothing to do with it. These are Jews attacking Jews.

glenda said...

Well, there are sunnis fighting shiites, Jews fighting Jews, and Irish Catholics bashing in the heads of Irish Protestants and vice versa. What next, Cubans attacking Mexicans?

ramo said...

How can the Russians who are also Jews, act like Neo-Nazi skinheads? Hitler considered both Russians and Jews to be slaves. Such people need to treated in mental hospital.

Anonymous said...

Dude, did you see the report on Nightline a couple days ago that profiled the NeoNazi movement in Russia? They operate with impunity under police protection/ambivalence and have been carrying out coordinated, videotaped attacks against non-Russian ethnic minorities all across Moscow.

They showed some clips of their videotaped adventures where they just ran up and stabbed this Kazakhstani father of 5 kids who was just minding his little fruit stand...or some shit like that.

Basically, Russian youth are descending into the despair and that gave rise to the Third Reich. Putin aint helping things either with his appeals to nationalism..

beatroot said...

I still think you all are missing the point. These are anti-Semitic Jews!

Mike Ballard said...

In Australia, they are called "hoons". Hoons are Australians and sometimes they attack other Australians. Hoons are always young and usually bored, looking for some action and then there's he funny looking guy in the bowler hat with pigtails. Hoons love to attack funny looking people. Heck, there's a mosque up the road from where I live which some hoon painted with big words, "Mohammed sucks!".

The problem is capitalism, no jobs, people being treated like objects, generalized legitimation of violence by the State and the media, no future, no places to have fun, no places where teenagers can meet without being harassed by the police or gangs of hoons from rival turf. Yeah, a lot of it is territorial--stay off my turf...soon to be, "my private property."

Mike Ballard said...

Sorry. Did I say "hoons"? I meant "yabbos". Hoons stay in their cars and drive around peeling rubber and making a lot of noise. Yabbos walk around assaulting people and making a nuisance of themselves. Sometimes though, a hoon will get out of his car (they are almost all guys), at that point, I supposed they can become yabbos.

? said...

The state officials are also to blame. This infectious outbreak could not be accurately traced to any other than the political as well as the religious. Wars of dubious justification: the savaging of humanity and destabilisation of the globe.

beatroot said...

Mike B is right. The only topic in the last Israeli election was security, security, security. The old ideological divide between Lakud and the Labor Party has all but gone. The new Labor party leader ( a Russian outside of the old establishment) tried to campaign on inequalities - the Russians are the poorest in the country - but to little effect.

People are not intersted in Politics anywhere anymore.

Graeme said...

Why bother with politics? it is so much easier to scare people into voting for you

Frank Partisan said...

Russian Jews are more secular and hawkish, than Israeli's born in Israel.

Many of them were housed in illegal settlements,in Gaza.

I always wondered about how they would take to being stuck in a desert, after living an urban life, for most of their lives?

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Did I say "hoons"? I meant "yabbos". Hoons stay in their cars and drive around peeling rubber and making a lot of noise. Yabbos walk around assaulting people and making a nuisance of themselves. Sometimes though, a hoon will get out of his car (they are almost all guys), at that point, I supposed they can become yabbos.

Actually, no. You're confusing the yobbos with the yabbis -- the latter being fresh water crayfish.

Mike Ballard said...

I didn't know that about the Russians emigres. Says a lot about the idiocies of "identity politics".

troutsky said...

I live in a relatively sheltered environment and so I ask, is a skinhead the same creature wherever you go? Is it some ideology which transcends nationalism, a mutated nazism? Who else do they hate? Are they always poor ,working class?

Frank Partisan said...

There are both racist and nonracist skinhead groups.

One group is called SHARP Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.

beatroot said...

Ren: there are no more settlments in mean west bank.

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

We think the Russian youth are descending into despair that gave rise to the Third Reich? How about our own country and its supposed adults lending a hand to the descending into our own form of Third Reich... We had best impeach Bush and deal with the consequences rather quickly or Russia will drop one on us and the Middle East will consume us...

Frank Partisan said...

I was talking about someone who hypothetically went from living in Moscow, then ending up in Gaza.

Poetryman: We are talking about ethnic Russian Jews, living in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Anti-semetic Semites?....Russian jews as skin heads?...First of all, Hitler would have sent them all to the concentration camps based on his racial views...How can russian jews rationalize being "neo-nazi skin heads"?

Sangroncito said...

Why are scapegoats always needed?

Anonymous said...

I linked you back by your blog title "Renegade Eye". You are in the politics section. Thanks for the link. Also I cannot figure out why some people cannot comment. You are the second one I heard of who cannot. If you have any idea why please let me know. I have put in the tag board for that very reason. I just do not understand it. Anyways, thanks again. I really love your site.

Interesting point you made on non-racist skinheads. I never heard of that before. Going to have to study that. Wow.

beatroot said...

Non racist skins? Not new at all.

The early skins of the 1960's in the UK (we invented these guys) were into reggae and west indian culture in general. There were black skinheads (called 'rude boys' in Lodon)at that time too.

My elder brother was one of these non racist skinheads.

In the 1980's check out the band Redskins - communist skinheads who were members of the SWP. Also check out the Specials and the Two Tone movement...

And later in the 1990's you got the emergence of gay skinheads...!

? said...

Further to my earlier comment, the effects of the extermination of the Jews will not be forgotten in the same way as slavery.

Hitlers idea: to wipe out the non-germans particulary Jews.

This should never be allowed to re-surface in the 21st century and people participating in any resurgence should be condemned and criminalised.

Anonymous said...

Kol Hakavod for Moti Katz's writings. I am especially impressed by his recent articles on the gay parade in Jerusalem. Good work.