If you want to see apartheid in Israel, go to Fureidis. This rural northern coastal town of 12,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel with not a single Jew, is surrounded by many all-Jewish settlements. Most notable among them is Zichron Ya’akov, which was founded in 1882, as one of the first colonies in what has become known to Jewish Israelis as the first aliyah or immigration.
Yesterday (April 29), Fureidis was the scene of a so-called “price tag attack,” by Jewish vandals, three of whom were filmed by a security video camera. During the attack, dozens of vehicles had their tires slashed and graffiti was spray painted on numerous walls, including those of a mosque.
The Jerusalem Post, quoting Fureidis Village Chairman Yonas Marai on Israel Radio, reported:
“They wrote many things on the mosque wall. They wrote that we have to close down the mosques and build yeshivas in their place. We live here in the State of Israel, a democratic state, we do not live in the West Bank and not in the [Gaza] Strip.”
On the day of the attack residents quickly organized a protest march against “price tag attacks,” which had been mostly limited to the West Bank until recently. There have been at least six other reports of such attacks on Palestinian towns inside the “green line” since December. The news media estimated that between 1500 to 4000 demonstrators participated in the march.
Thursday, most Fureidis residents went on strike to protest the political violence and the lack of a sufficient response from the government to these acts of vandalism and hatred. The commercial center was shuttered as stores closed their doors in solidarity with the protest. In an unusual occurrence, even the banks closed their doors. Schools also were closed for the day.
The name Fureidis is said to come from the Arabic word for “little Garden of Eden” and by extension from the term “paradise.” In the early 70s, this fact was a source of never- ending amusement for the residents of the neighboring Kibbutz Ma’ayan Tzvi, a place at which I briefly lived as a volunteer worker and Hebrew student.
Furiedis was the subject of the brilliant documentary “Paradise Lost” directed by Ebtisam Mara’ana who grew up in the town. The film is a meditation both on occupation and feminism in a Palestinian context.
Palestinian political organizing and protest has been brutally suppressed from the beginning of the state until the present. Maybe this protest is a sign that the long suppressed anger of Israel’s Palestinian citizens will be heard in surprising ways in the near future.