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Restaurant attacked for barring armed Israeli soldier

andy neyer
04-01-2010, 08:11 PM
An Arab-owned restaurant in the Israeli city of Haifa has been caught in a whirlwind of legal action and threats of violence after staff refused to serve a soldier in uniform, an incident that is rapidly tarnishing the city's reputation as a model of good Jewish-Arabs relations.

The soldier, Raviv Roth, has launched a damages claim for $16,000 over his treatment at Azad, a restaurant located in a bohemian neighborhood of the northern port city.

Roth's lawyer alleges that the restaurant broke anti-discrimination laws and humiliated the soldier, while Azad's owner says he only wants to ensure a relaxed and non-partisan atmosphere for all his customers.

Since the incident occurred late last month, soldiers and right-wing students have staged a large demonstration outside Azad demanding a boycott of the restaurant, and Azad's staff have received dozens of calls threatening to kill them or burn the premises down.

A Facebook group demanding Azad's closure has attracted tens of thousands of supporters. The local municipality has launched its own legal action to close the restaurant, arguing it has violated licensing conditions in refusing to serve the soldier.

"I can't believe what's been happening," said Anas Deeb, Azad's owner. "The soldier and municipality have been waging a vendetta campaign against me ever since they learned we have a dress code that does not allow uniforms. Our policy is not 'against' the army -- it covers every uniform, even the boy scouts.

"Everyone is talking as if we refused to serve the soldier, but that's not true. He was told he was welcome here any time but only if he first changed out of his army uniform."

One in 10 residents of Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel with a population of 270,000, is Arab. The city is often cited as a unique example in Israel of a multicultural community that has sought to integrate, rather than marginalize, its Arab population.

But the rapid escalation of tensions over the Azad incident risks creating a deep ethnic fissure, as has occurred in other mixed cities in Israel. In Acre, 20 kilometers up the coast, ethnic strains led in late 2008 to clashes between groups of Arab and Jewish youths. Several Arab families were chased out of mixed neighborhoods and had their homes set on fire.

Orna Sasson-Levy, a sociologist at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, said the Haifa restaurant had violated one of Israel's "great taboos" in refusing to welcome a soldier.

"The army is the symbol of the Israeli nation," she said. "Although it is okay not to serve in the army -- and many Jews don't -- it is definitely not okay to show that you are in any way against the army."

In Israel, where most of the secular Jewish population is conscripted for three years and many men continue to do annual reserve duty until their 40s, soldiers expect to be treated as heroes.

Buses give soldiers discounted tickets, those who have served in the army are entitled to lower tax rates, cheap mortgages and preferential rights to buy land, and employers often specify that only former soldiers will be considered for jobs.

Almost all of Israel's Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of the country's population, are exempted from the army and do not receive such benefits.

Deeb, 30, said he established his restaurant -- whose Arabic name means "Free man" -- to offer a space where the city's Jews and Arabs could "mix as equals and without intimidation."

"Haifa is famous for being a multicultural city," he said. "Many of my clients are Jews, so this case has nothing to do with discrimination. All I want is peaceful dialogue.

"Places all over the world have dress codes, including requirements to wear a tie or a jacket, and no one makes any fuss. Why is an army uniform any different?"

Roth's lawyer, Pinhas Weller, said Deeb must pay compensation to the 23-year-old soldier or he would be sued in the courts. Roth, he said, had been told not talk to the media by the army.

Weller added that the refusal to allow the soldier entry to Azad was no less discriminatory than refusing to serve someone because of his skin color or his religion.

"In Israel, most people at some stage in their life wear a military uniform and the army is seen as protecting our way of life," he said. "If you refuse to serve someone in the army, it says something about your attitude to the country."

Similar sentiments were expressed at a demonstration outside Azad this month. Police had to stop protesters breaking into the restaurant as they waved Israeli flags and held banners saying "Don't discriminate against soldiers" and "Soldiers keep us safe."

One man was filmed shouting at customers and staff inside: "Until you're shut down, we won't leave this spot and we'll give you trouble. The soldiers protect you and me too. It's because of them that you exist ... All of Israel, all businesses, will welcome the army and those in uniform with respect."

However, human rights lawyers say the restaurant has broken no laws. Anti-discrimination legislation, introduced in 2000, covers race, religious affiliation, nationality and sexual orientation, but not military service.

Sawsan Zaher, of the Haifa-based Adalah legal center for the Arab minority, said the involvement of the municipality was of particular concern.

"We regard this as a case of harassment by city officials," said Zaher. "In arguing that the restaurant should have its license revoked because it discriminated against the soldier, the municipality is including a licensing criterion that is not authorized by the law."

But Reshev Cheyne, the City Attorney, maintained that barring a soldier in uniform did constitute discrimination and was not a justifiable dress code. "Soldiers are obliged to dress the way they do. If you say no to the uniform, you're saying no to the soldier."

Jafar Farah, head of Mossawa, a Haifa-based advocacy group for the Arab minority, said his organization had been monitoring a growing number of cases in which public places in Haifa refused Arabs entry.

"There is a smell of hypocrisy in this case," he said. "Bars and discos in Haifa are turning away Arab customers but the municipality never seeks to prosecute them, even though it is clear that in these cases laws against discrimination are being broken."

Farah said the city's climate of coexistence was breaking down, partly as a result of an influx during the 1990s of right-wing immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Today, a quarter of Haifa's population is Russian-speaking.

The city's deputy mayor, Yulia Shtraim, a member of the far-right party of Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, which is popular with Russian speakers, made headlines during last year's local election when she barred Arab reporters, but not Jewish journalists, from party rallies.

"Unfortunately, the soldier in this case is being backed by far-right groups who want to present this incident as an example of Arab disloyalty to Israel," said Farah. "That is dangerous because it could play well in parts of Haifa where Lieberman's party has attracted voters with its slogan of "No citizenship without loyalty."

Two years ago, an Arab lecturer, Nizar Hassan, was suspended from his job at Sapir College in the Negev after he admonished a student who arrived at his class armed and in uniform. The college president threatened to dismiss Dr. Hassan if he did not apologize to the soldier and publicly express his "respect for the IDF [Israeli military] uniform."

An Arab professor at Haifa University was ejected from a city restaurant last year when he objected to a military-style T-shirt worn by a waiter that advocated the killing of Palestinian children.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11167.shtml

Chiakifug
04-02-2010, 01:04 AM
At the same time the Israeli Army attacks Gaza with more missiles.

orangehat
04-02-2010, 01:54 AM
right-wingers seem to ring a bell ... :scratch:

Oh wait the Bush Administration, Sarah Palin, and the jewish lobbyists in washington

their appeasment policy is the cause of the situation now :rolleyes:

Or Levy
04-03-2010, 07:41 PM
At the same time the Israeli Army attacks Gaza with more missiles.

Yes. **After** Kassams fell in Ashkelon and the Negev last week and this week, but that isn't worth a mention, is that? R

eally, how you can mention that Israel attacked Gaza with missles, without mentioning the preceeding Kassams and Rockets that hit Israel before that? Do you not know about it, or are you just choosing to ignore that?

That's the hypocrism regarding Israel I cannot phantom. I see the error of my goverment's way on many, many issues. This isn't one of them. Must you twist reality to get your point across.

How about dealing with the facts? The Palestinians reacted to the building in Jerusalem with rockets and Kassams, and the Israeli retaliation came *afterwards*. If you feel that aiming rockets and Kassams on civilian population is an appropriate reaction to the announcements about the building in Jerusalem, say so. But don't pretend like it never happened.

As far as the article - if he doesn't allow all uniform (school uniform, fire-fighter uniform, police uniform) than I guess I don't have an issue with it (though I find it absurd that he doesn't let people in just because their work require them to wear uniform - this isn't some fancy place), but I doubt whether that's true. If it's just soldiors he's banning, that it is discrimination according to Israeli laws, it's just the way it is. Not because they are soldiors, but because you can't discriminate again a group in the population, even in private establishments, no matter for what reason.

As far as the professor - that's even worse. The army in Israel isn't like in other places. It's a mandatory services and you have to do reserve duty. That soldior apperantly came directly from his duties in the militery to a class he had to take in the university. There is no way in heck the professor isn't letting him in. Not if he want to teach in a university in Israel. You can't have it both ways, universities in Israel are getting funds from the goverment. It's okay for you to work in a university that is getting funds from the goverment, but you won't let soldiors in uniform into the classroom? Sorry, that's double-standard.

cobalt60
04-03-2010, 07:46 PM
Yes. **After** Kassams fell in Ashkelon and the Negev last week and this week, but that isn't worth a mention, is that? R

eally, how you can mention that Israel attacked Gaza with missles, without mentioning the preceeding Kassams and Rockets that hit Israel before that? Do you not know about it, or are you just choosing to ignore that?

That's the hypocrism regarding Israel I cannot phantom. I see the error of my goverment's way on many, many issues. This isn't one of them. Must you twist reality to get your point across.

How about dealing with the facts? The Palestinians reacted to the building in Jerusalem with rockets and Kassams, and the Israeli retaliation came *afterwards*. If you feel that aiming rockets and Kassams on civilian population is an appropriate reaction to the announcements about the building in Jerusalem, say so. But don't pretend like it never happened.

As far as the article - if he doesn't allow all uniform (school uniform, fire-fighter uniform, police uniform) than I guess I don't have an issue with it (though I find it absurd that he doesn't let people in just because their work require them to wear uniform - this isn't some fancy place), but I doubt whether that's true. If it's just soldiors he's banning, that it is discrimination according to Israeli laws, it's just the way it is. Not because they are soldiors, but because you can't discriminate again a group in the population, even in private establishments, no matter for what reason.

Your reply falls on deaf ears I am afraid. I can only assume as is the norm for MTF that the article was posted to get a rise out of some folks and to let others continue to spout the fact that their reality is to verbally attack Israel and whatever they feel is the right wing. Just got to love those who pontificate to a little screen.

Or Levy
04-03-2010, 09:12 PM
I'll be waiting for a reply.

The misinformation just makes me sick. Here, another example. Hot off the press - that's not the first time, either.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3871373,00.html

Palestinian teen reportedly killed by IDF returns home

According to Palestinian report IDF soldiers shot a 15-year-old boy earlier this week in Gaza Strip, however it appears teen tried to cross over into Egypt via smuggling tunnel

Ynet
Published: 04.03.10, 20:57 / Israel News

A Palestinian 15-year-old boy who was said to have been killed in the Gaza Strip this week returned to his home safe and sound, it was reported Saturday.


Palestinian medical elements initially reported that Mohammed al-Farmawi was killed by IDF fire near Rafah. According to the report, the teen approached the border fence near the Badhania airport and apparently tried to cross over into Israeli territory.



The IDF denied the report and said that dozens of Palestinians held protests in several locations near the border fence area in the Strip. During one such protest soldiers fired towards several protestors' legs after they refused to leave the site, but without causing casualties.



The teen returned home on Friday after apparently trying to cross over into Egypt via a smuggling tunnel, where he was kept for several days. The Ma'an news agency reported that his family was overwhelmed with happiness at the news.



Palestinian sources said that the boy's alleged death might have been related to "internal affairs."



A source from the Palestinian Health Ministry said that they had received false reports from the field and had later declared that no body was found.

andy neyer
04-05-2010, 06:57 AM
Yes. **After** Kassams fell in Ashkelon and the Negev last week and this week, but that isn't worth a mention, is that? R

eally, how you can mention that Israel attacked Gaza with missles, without mentioning the preceeding Kassams and Rockets that hit Israel before that? Do you not know about it, or are you just choosing to ignore that?

That's the hypocrism regarding Israel I cannot phantom. I see the error of my goverment's way on many, many issues. This isn't one of them. Must you twist reality to get your point across.

How about dealing with the facts? The Palestinians reacted to the building in Jerusalem with rockets and Kassams, and the Israeli retaliation came *afterwards*. If you feel that aiming rockets and Kassams on civilian population is an appropriate reaction to the announcements about the building in Jerusalem, say so. But don't pretend like it never happened.

The state of Israel treats the Palestinians like garbage. Against the UN resolutions and even against what the USA (Israel's strongest ally) they make more and more settlements and then expect that the Palestinians stay calm without doing anything and if they do something, then the IDF counterattack 100 times more heavily.
Do not pretend for a second that the IDF don't attack the civilian population of the West Bank and Gaza. Tell me now: how many Palestinian innocent kids have died in the past 2 years and how many Israeli children have died? We're talking of comparing thousands to 1 or 2 at most maybe? Your idea to talk of Palestinian attacks on the civilian population of Israel sounds ridiculous when Israel does the same only that much more effectively and much more massively.


As far as the article - if he doesn't allow all uniform (school uniform, fire-fighter uniform, police uniform) than I guess I don't have an issue with it (though I find it absurd that he doesn't let people in just because their work require them to wear uniform - this isn't some fancy place), but I doubt whether that's true. If it's just soldiors he's banning, that it is discrimination according to Israeli laws, it's just the way it is. Not because they are soldiors, but because you can't discriminate again a group in the population, even in private establishments, no matter for what reason.

It's not just soldiers he's banning but people with uniforms in general. I'm glad you don't have an issue with that.

andy neyer
04-05-2010, 07:17 AM
I'll be waiting for a reply.

The misinformation just makes me sick. Here, another example. Hot off the press - that's not the first time, either.



Dude, you speak of particular and insignificant cases but refuse to look at the bigger picture. Truth is, your government engages in acts of state terrorism and treats Arabs like crap just because they're Arabs and therefore are deemed as filthy terrorists.

If you really want to talk about misinformation then why don't you introduce us to the propaganda of your state which for several days didn't allow journalists in Gaza during the operation Cast Lead in order to prevent them from reporting the human rights violations that were happening?

If you want to talk about discrimination like you did in the other post, then why not talk of your government's law for Palestinians to obtain citizenship which has been regarded by the UN as racist and even one of Israel's most respected newspapers (probably the most respected), Haaretz, said it effectively turned Israel into an Apartheid state?

If you want to talk about acts of terrorism towards the civilian population, then why don't you talk about the thousands of Palestinian women and children who have died at the hands of the IDF?

If you want to talk about illegal settlements then why not talk about the ones that were planned to be built on East Jerusalem against the UN and even against the USA's conviction? Or the many other settlements the Jews built in the past years while they were forcefully expelling the Arab population that already lived in the area?

If you want to talk about censorship then why not mention what the state of Israel has done to the Jewish dissident voices such as "Breaking the Silence"?


But I guess it's better and convenient to ignore all that and just pretend that the IDF are fighting for freedom and fairness.

andy neyer
04-05-2010, 07:24 AM
Your reply falls on deaf ears I am afraid. I can only assume as is the norm for MTF that the article was posted to get a rise out of some folks and to let others continue to spout the fact that their reality is to verbally attack Israel and whatever they feel is the right wing. Just got to love those who pontificate to a little screen.

You just keep reading your so very unbiased American media and listen to your so very free American politicans, son. I'm sure you think it's all great.

If you don't, and since we're talking of Israel here, I suggest you look up what AIPAC is and how it affects your country's relations with the state of Israel. It's just delightful.

Bilbo
04-05-2010, 10:53 AM
The misinformation just makes me sick. Here, another example. Hot off the press - that's not the first time, either.

and what makes me sick is their illegal building of settlements which anybody knows will never bring peace. how about you mention that one first.