How a violent night threatened the peaceful coexistence of two Israeli towns
The night of May 12 was supposed to be one of the celebrations of Dib Jurban and Osmat Shab, but instead of returning home from get off work to have dinner with their families to commemorate the end of Ramadan, they spent five painful hours in the dark. Determine if they can live to see the morning.
Their boss Naaman Stavny and his mother Shoshy became their protectors. Hiding their hiding place from a group of angry Jewish men, they surrounded the gas station run by his family for generations.
As the violent conflict between Israeli and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip began to escalate last month, another type of conflict has emerged on the streets of Israel. Angry Jews and Arabs roam the streets, Attack and beat anyone from the other side.
This is ethnic violence that Israel has never seen in decades. But what shocked many people, including gas station workers, was that the violence was not confined to traditional hotspots such as the occupied West Bank. Mixed cities like Lorde.
It spreads to every corner of the country, including those small pockets that have been carefully stitched together for peaceful coexistence over the years.
“Why are all of us?”
Shoshy Stavny’s grandfather opened the Paz gas station in 1952. It became a meeting place for Arabs and Jews, located at a busy intersection not far from Caesarea, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his home. There are also smaller Jewish and Arab towns nearby.
Jurban and Shab have worked there for many years. They knew the customer’s name, so they were suddenly arrested just because they were Arabs, which made them unbelievable.
“We told each other, what do they want from us?” Jurban told CBC News through an interpreter.
“We both have worked here for more than 15 years, and everyone knows each other, so why are all of us?”
That night, when he saw a group of Jewish men approaching, Naaman Stavny immediately felt trouble. He witnessed violence in other parts of the country with his own eyes, so his first idea was to protect his workers.
“They are suing Arabs only because they are Arabs,” he told CBC News.
He said that there were echoes of the Holocaust that night and the Jews avoided the Nazis. But now he is a Jew, hiding the Arabs from other Jews.
“This is pure hatred driven by ideology,” he said.
“When they did spot someone they suspected of being an Arab, they hit the window with a stick. They had wooden boards; they broke the window and I saw the driver fleeing from terror,” Naman said.
“Any Arab we see here is dead”
At the same time, Xiao Xi tried to talk to the men in the crowd.
“They said,’You don’t have to worry, you are Jewish, but any Arabs we see here are dead,'” she told CBC News.
She watched in horror as the crowd attacked an Arab man walking nearby.
“Everyone is by his side, just keep beating him, beating him, beating him. He is already on the floor and they keep going,” she said. “I have never witnessed such violence.”
Fortunately, a nearby business owner rushed in and stood beside the man. When Xiao Xi found the police stationed nearby, he pushed the crowd back. That night, two Arab men were taken to the hospital.
When the fire blazed from the barrel and the crowd poured into anyone they suspected to be an Arab, Naiman said that even he felt unsafe.
“I was yelling,’I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew.’ It’s really scary,” he said, noting that some people in the crowd asked about his political views, which showed that they were targeting anything People with left-wing views.
The symbol of coexistence is incendiary
The seaside town of Akko is often regarded as a beacon of Israeli coexistence, and approximately 21% of its citizens are Arab Israelis. A popular tourist destination, it is home to the famous seafood restaurant Uri Buri, owned by the colorful Uri Jeremias.
The night before the violence at the gas station, less than a week after he hosted an iftar dinner with community members of all faiths to celebrate the end of Ramadan, Jeremias’ restaurant was set on fire by a group of Arab mobs.
“Partly because I am Jewish, and partly because I represent coexistence. The two of them are together, which makes me an enemy of militants,” Jeremyas told CBC News from the black ruins of the restaurant.
Just before the attack, 20 guests and some of his Arab employees, including his chef and sous chef, hid behind the restaurant until they came out safely. But no matter what they went through, Jeremias said he would not fall into a never-ending vortex of revenge.
“I decided on the spot that I would not start opening accounts all over the world, nor would I be led by anger or retaliation.”
Now, when he starts to rebuild his restaurant, he says that repairing the delicate balance between Arabs and Jews will be a long and arduous task.
“A radical man with a match in his hand can create a flame that 1,000 brave fire brigade members cannot extinguish.”
Coexistence but inequality
After a terrible night at their gas station, the Stavny family asked a key question: Why aren’t more people talking about it? It happened at the height of greater riots in other cities and violence in Gaza, but the local news seemed uninterested in reporting the attack. Only a piece of paper wrote this story.
“I think it’s not as interesting as Arab mobs attacking Jews because it was Jewish mobs attacking Arabs,” Shaoshi Stafni said.
Some analysts believe that the widespread violence is at least partly the result of a polarizing political environment instigated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ruben Hazan, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said: “In the past 12 years, 11 of the past 12 years have been polarized, and today Israeli society is splitting up.”
“What we need to do is to do a lot of family therapy in Israel, not just the violence that has occurred in mixed cities between Jews and Arabs in the past few weeks.”
In Israel, there are Hundreds were arrested and more than 500 were charged, But most of the people brought in and facing prosecution are Arab Israelis. Six people were arrested for gas station riots, but only one was charged, which led critics to accuse Israel of unequal application of the law.
A few weeks after the incident, Naaman Stavny said he had insomnia and anxiety. He said he believed that some people involved in the riot had returned to the store, acting as if everything was normal.
“If I see an Israeli flag, sadly it will touch me because it reminds me of the people who planned these riots,” he said.
Dib Jurban said he did not come to work or leave home three days after the incident. Even now, he says he treats customers with a suspicion that he didn’t have before.
Watch | On the ground in Gaza after the deadly air strike:
“I feel lost and afraid of everything I see,” Zhuban said.
But despite these experiences, he and Shabu still hope that the delicate structure of coexistence can be stitched together slowly.
“I don’t hate anyone. I don’t know what happened to those people; some of them we know, some of them we always see and serve them,” he said. “I don’t know what heart they experienced.”