Troubled times in Lod, Israel

FPI / May 13, 2021

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Jews cower in their homes as Arabs set fire to synagogues and comb the streets for Jewish victims. Failing that, they attempt to break into Jewish homes. They burn cars and whatever else they can lay their hands on.

These events, more reminiscent of the Pale of Settlement, are taking place now, for the last two days, in Israel proper, in the city of Lod, a half hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.

A car set on fire by Israeli Arab residents during riots in the central Israeli town of Lod on May 11. / Yossi Aloni / FLASH90

More than one eyewitness has called it a pogrom. The city’s mayor compared it to Kristallnacht.

What makes it different, indeed intolerable, is that it’s taking place in the Jewish State, established to end such horrors.

Lod is a mixed city. Its Jewish population has been shouting for help as they remain trapped in their own homes while Arabs run riot. The government has quite rightly been criticized for its tepid response. Only about 30 rioters have been arrested. Finally, on Tuesday evening, the government ordered 16 Border Police companies to the city and declared a state of emergency.

As pathetic as has been the government and police response, it’s Lod’s Arabs who deserve the most censure. They are Israeli Arabs. They have grown up in Israel, not on the other side of some imaginary line, not in the so-called ‘occupied territories.’ Israel makes enormous effort to help its Arab citizens feel a part of the country, despite propaganda to the contrary. In short, there is no excuse for the savagery of this ungrateful minority.

One Jewish woman in Lod, appearing on Channel 11 on Tuesday night, described the relations she had had with her Arab neighbors up until then. She said they were a model of warmth and mutual respect. Most fascinating was hearing how the friendly relationships of years changed in the way a switch is flipped. She said she could feel the difference. Suddenly, they looked at her with hostile eyes. The woman, a sociologist by profession, said she couldn’t explain it.

It is reminiscent of accounts from the 1929 Hebron pogrom, where “Arab homeowners had told their Jewish neighbors ‘today will be the great slaughter,’ and several of the victims took tea with so-called friends who, in the afternoon, became their killers.”

Lod resident Michal Avraham told Channel 20: “They know exactly which cars to burn, what to destroy… They’re our neighbors… This is a slap in a face, it’s betrayal, and I don’t have the words to describe the disappointment from what’s going on.”

Uriel, another resident, said “We don’t go down to the bomb shelter when there’s a siren because it’s more dangerous to go there with the Arabs than to stay home.”

Lod’s violence has now spread to other heavily Arab cities. Bedouin in the south lie in wait along the highways, ready to stone passersby.

Israelis are watching and no doubt reaching conclusions. “All the work we have done here for years [regarding coexistence] has gone down the drain,” Lod’s mayor said. Even the most dedicated peace advocates have fallen silent as Arabs, who a month ago were wishing their Jewish neighbors a Happy Passover, took to the streets with chants of “With blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.”

Palestine? There is loyalty. There is dual loyalty. And then there is treason.

Avraham said she saw Arabs outside “dancing with joy” as the Hamas rockets flew by.

The sickly gray smoke hovering above Lod has cast a pall over more than just the city.

David Isaac is managing editor of World Israel News. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Free Press Foundation.