Knesset speaker condemns racist attack

Fri, Aug 24, 2012, 01:00

THE SPEAKER of Israel’s Knesset parliament has apologised to the Palestinian victim of a racist attack in central Jerusalem, saying it cannot be treated as an isolated incident.

Speaking at the bedside of Jamal Julani (17) shortly before his release from a Jerusalem hospital, Reuven Rivlin said he had come to apologise on behalf of the state of Israel.

“We are not just sorry, we are also angry. It is hard to see you in hospital because of something so inconceivable,” Mr Rivlin told Mr Julani. “The time has come for us to stop covering up. This is a microcosm of a national problem that can endanger Israeli democracy. This is a shared responsibility of every leader and every publicly elected official.”

Mr Julani was attacked a week ago by a mob of about a dozen Jewish youths in downtown Jerusalem and was brought to hospital after losing consciousness.

He told reporters yesterday that he could not remember anything about the attack, but he was not afraid to go back to downtown Jerusalem.

“I intend to go on with my life as usual,” he said. “I have never done any harm to anyone.”

The police have so far arrested eight Jewish teenagers – the youngest aged only 13 – in connection with the attack.

Some of the Jewish suspects expressed no remorse and indicated that the attack came in response to Arab youths “starting with Jewish girls” in the centre of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police rejected allegations that police officers had seen the attempted lynching and had chosen not to intervene.

An Arab eyewitness who works near the scene of the attack called the police and claimed that the police officer who arrived chose not to intervene when he saw that the brawl was among teenagers. However, a police investigation determined that this referred to an earlier altercation nearby.

Investigations revealed that the attackers had fled the scene before the arrival of the police and followed the Arab victims to nearby Zion Square. There, some 40 minutes later, the attackers began beating Mr Julani. Police then received multiple calls and sent additional officers to the scene.

Police commissioner Insp Gen Yohanan Danino added his condemnation to that of Israeli leaders. “The lynch in Jerusalem was the most severe and contemptible act imaginable in a democratic law-abiding country,” he said.