Afula residents


The mayor of Afula and one of his deputies were among those taking part in a far-right demonstration along with several dozen residents against an Arab family buying a home in the town in the Jezreel Valley.

The protest was part of a series of similar demonstrations in Afula over the last two years against the sale of homes to Arab residents, a trend which has been increasing recently, as middle-class Arab families in different parts of Israel are moving to Jewish towns and neighbourhoods. Some of the recent protests, including the one in which Mayor Avi Elkabetz took part in last Saturday night, have been organised by the local branch of the Kahanist far-right Jewish Power party. Some of the participants were waving flags of the another Kahanist group, the anti-miscegenation group, Lehava. When approached for comments by reporters, Mr Elkabetz said that he was there as a private citizen and that the demonstration was not organised by City Hall.

Mayor Elkabetz, who is not officially affiliated with any of the national political parties, ran his re-election campaign last year with the slogan “Preserving Afula’s Jewish identity” and after the local election, the newly-elected, a sentence in that spirit was added to the council-members pledge of allegiance. In recent months, the city’s main park has a number of times been closed for the use of only local residents and Mr Alkabetz wrote “the occupation of the city park must end. We need to proudly fly Israeli flags thoughout the park and play Hebrew music.”

There was no response to the demonstration by government politicians but Knesset members on the left were vociferous in their condemnation. MK Yousef Jabarin (Hadash) who lives in nearby Umm al-Fahm, wrote to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding that those who participated in the event be investigating for charges of incitement to racism and violence.

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