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Right-wing protesters outside Erev Rav’s November 10 event in Jerusalem. (screenshot by the author from YouTube)

WEST JERUSALEM — In retrospect, we were complacent. We thought that the opposition would fade away by the time of the event, or at most, the action would amount to a polite protest vigil. Even after seeing the distorted stories claiming that our event supported terrorism and called for the destruction of Israel we were relatively calm. We are accustomed to this language — the lies and distortions of the nationalist right in Israel.

But when invitations for a demonstration against our event started appearing on the Facebook pages of extremist organizations the management of the Hansen House hired six security guards and notified the police. The night of the event, Monday, November 10, there were roughly 50 people inside to attend our event, while others were left outside after the guards locked the gates as a safety precaution. When police arrived, they recognized some of the protesters — and they suspected things may turn violent — so the police officers stayed at the scene and called for backup.

Erev Rav is an independent journal of arts, culture, and society, edited by us. Established in early 2010 to advance the discourse on art, and to support a multicultural, democratic, and pluralistic discussion on culture. Working out of Hansen House, an art centre located in a former leper colony, we also organize numerous events, including video screenings, performances, and artist talks. “The Pain of the Archive” was an event we organized for both the launch of the book by Dr. Ruthie Ginsburg, And You Will Serve as Eyes for Us − Israeli Human Rights Organizations as Seen Through the Camera’s Eye, and the screening of excerpts of works by choreographer Arkadi Zaides: “Archive” and “Capture Practice.”

An hour before the event starts, protesters start gathering in front of the gates. Arkadi Zaides and Ruthie Ginsburg entered through a side door. A small group of people standing in the doorway of the hall demanded to enter. They are very aggressive, and the security guards recognize them as members of La Familia — a notoriously violent and racist football hooligan group. They told the guards that they came only to hear another opinion. One of them has a small megaphone. When the security decided against letting them in, they began to shout, curse the guests, and take pictures of those in attendance.

Meanwhile, outside protesters (which included members of other extreme right groups), guests, and police started to grow in numbers. There appeared to be some chaos at the gates of the compound, but we were locked in the hall and could not see what was happening outside. The security decided to secure the main gate, which left many of our guests stuck among the protesters.

We began the evening citing the title of Ariella Azoulay’s writing on Aïm Deüelle Lüski‘s work, ”A Brief History of Photography in Dark Days,” which raises the question of photography in these times and the need to challenge the mechanisms of visual clichés, while trying to generate other gazes and devices.

Arkady Zaides continues his presentation in a darkened room. (photo courtesy Erev Rav)

Ginsburg presented her research on the use of photographs by human rights organizations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Five minutes later, the power failed — later we discover it wasn’t an accident. We improvised in the darkness, and found a way to connect the computer and projector to power, but not the lights. The rest of the evening was held largely in darkness, with the only light being the projected images on the screen, while we continued to hear the cursing and shouting from outside.

Ginsburg talked about how to use photographic images in the Occupied Territories. What we appear to see in them and what is hidden, and therefore less discussed. She mentioned the multitude of cameras in conflict areas, which on the one hand helps expose the truth, but also makes any incident that was not documented not worthy of investigation.

Zaides presented excerpts of his works that are based on documentary material filmed by Palestinian volunteers of the B’Tselem Camera Project. Zaides is a veteran at dealing with protesters. Recently, the Israeli Petach Tikva Museum was asked to remove one of his works from an exhibition.

In his work, Zaides traces the body language and movement of soldiers and settlers who are filmed by Palestinians. The connection between the adoption of the Palestinian perspective and the movements of the Israeli solders or settlers allow him to emphasize the physical reactions to which they resort to in various confrontational situations. Zaides wished to examine the somatic influence of the Israeli Occupation on the bodies of those administering it, while raising questions about his own involvement in the act.

With the exception of the electrical sabotage and shouts coming from outside, the talks proceeded with little interference for those of us in the hall. Suddenly we see people throwing stones at the windows. The police rushed to the location of disturbance, and discovered that the protesters appeared to have broken the security camera at the entrance.

The evening ended with questions from the audience, but the tension made it difficult to concentrate. Before leaving the room, a security officer instructed the audience to avoid conflicts and not to take any pictures. As they left our guests were cursed and taunted in a shocking way. Arkady and Ruthie stayed inside for an additional 20 minutes, and left only with a police escort that accompanied them to their car. Through the windows we saw protesters running down the street in all directions, we decided to leave later — and only after police reported that the protesters had dispersed. The right-wing Israelis yelled at the Jewish Israeli attendees all types of obscenities, including “You Nazis, we’ll make soaps out of you,” “You fucker, you leftists,” and “You need to go to Gaza.”

Later on we heard reports from friends and guests about harsh verbal and physical violence. A friend, who was stuck outside with the protesters, was punched in the stomach, and a woman was beaten with a flag pool on her head, but all are ok now. All the people I spoke to were very shaken by what happened.

Here in West Jerusalem the police protected us. A few protesters were arrested and released the following day, however we don’t believe the police filed a report. During the same period, in East Jerusalem, protests and riots by Palestinian youth continued, and the police continued to shoot tear gas and stink bombs at the protesters, while beatings and arrests were frequent. In Gush Etzion, a young woman was murdered by a Palestinian, and a security guard was stabbed on the light rail. The next morning the walls of the bilingual school, the only place in Jerusalem were Arab and Jewish children learn together (and some of our children and the children of our friends go there), were graffitied with “Death to the Arabs” slogans. Just another November day in Jerusalem.

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Yonatan Amir & Ronen Eidelman

Yonatan Amir is an art critic, lecturer and co-founder and co-editor of Erev-Rav, the independent leading online art and culture magazine in Hebrew since 2010. Amir has...

13 replies on “Right-wing Protesters Attack Art Talk in Jerusalem”

  1. Thanks for sharing this account of the event…even it is terribly depressing to read of how increasingly ugly and dangerous the Israeli extreme Right has grown.

    1. It’s terribly depressing that organizations continue to ignore systemized widespread palestinian violence and extremism while focusing on a few minorities among Jews disavowed by mainstream society. True intellectual honesty would have you see that decades of peace activism on the israeli side has been met with genicidal hatred by palestinian society. There is in fact next to nothing left of the peace camp in israel….it’s not hard to wonder why.

      1. You’re very good at masking your hatred of Palestinians. Kudos to you. Your use of a ridiculous term, “genicidal hatred by palestinian society,” proves that you have no idea what you are talking about.

        1. I dont need to mask anything and my views are clear. Please do not put YOUR words in my mouth. I just call out hypocrisy when I see it. So many people cry for palestinian human rights but are quite silent when said palestinians butcher Jews, lob indiscriminate missiles, blow up cafes and celebrate their gruesome feats in the streets. So now tell me why I have “no idea what im talking about”? That is YOUR opinion and not based on any fact. Intellectual honesty would require one to weigh facts and not reference your own opinions. Lets put it another way. Palestinian society glorifies as “martyrs” suicide bombers and anyone killed murdering Israeli civilians both within Israel and over the 1967 armistice lines. (I wont use your capital lettered politically loaded palestinian occupied territories). This is in official palestinian government media. The families of murderers even receive stipends from the Palestinian authority. If you care to see documented evidence of this from multiple sources Id be happy to show you I “know what I am talking about”. Anyone who disagrees with you is not a right wing extremist. I am as educated and articulate as you and I can back up my arguments with laws facts and history with confidence. Let the marketplace of ideas decide.

          1. I don’t disagree with any of the facts you present Sheik of Chic (although I believe the claim that the PA pays stipends to families of martyrs is a matter of framing — i.e., it can also be framed as paying a family for loss of income, etc., and not as an honorarium). But that doesn’t change the fact that I am also disturbed by the increasing rift in Israeli society (one that mirrors the American political divide, perhaps, but with uglier, tragic, and more immediate consequences).

          2. A matter of framing? I think the facts speak for themselves. Insightment glorification of child killers, dancing in the streets after suicide bombings, tunnels dug under Israeli kindergartens can not easily be “reframed” as goodwill peaceful gestures. . this is the problem with seeing what you want to see….

          3. Don’t be silly. No one is reframing suicide bombing or tunnel construction as goodwill peaceful gestures; now you’re the one putting words in other’s mouths.

            Look, you’re right — there is a real problem with seeing what you want to see. And that problem exists on BOTH sides.

            If we can not address the missteps or wrongheadedness of the camp we find ourselves in, there is little hope for reconciliation in the region.

            Innocent Israeli Jews and Arabs (as well as Arabs that are not Israeli citizens, of course) are paying a terrible price for the strengthening of ultra-nationalism, racism, and religious extremism in Israel. These developments only exacerbate an already grim situation. When courageous Israeli leaders (including the current President) speak out about this issue, they are attacked by an anti-democratic minority. Yes, it’s a minority, but one that is very vocal and gaining in strength/numbers. It’s only natural that the Israeli populace (and the Palestinian populace no less) would be jaded and angry, but Israelis must strive to protect the concept/aspiration of Israeli democracy. Unfortunately, as the tide of reactionary ultra-nationalism grows, the gradual but plain corruption and erosion of that concept continues apace. This is worrisome not only for Israel and world Jewry, but for the entire region…and, of course, for the US.

            You may protest that Israel’s enemies want to cleanse the land of all Jews and that this genocidal representation of “the world’s oldest hate” trumps all else. Certainly, that’s true for many Palestinian extremists (and even for some so-called peace activists that refer to the occupation as starting in 1948 and use the phrase “from the river to the sea” when referencing the occupation, a not-so-coded call for the removal or elimination of all Jews in the region). Additionally, it’s true that although Abbas condemned this week’s attack, he also added rhetoric designed to incite more outrage to his public remarks…and plenty of Palestinians have, as you highlight, celebrated the brutal deaths of the 4 Jewish Israelis.

            I don’t believe that either the author of the article above or the magazine’s editor (commenting here) are claiming that all the problems should be pinned to Israel, but I can only speak for myself…and that is certainly not my position. I am an American Jew, and raging about the bad behavior of a powerful Palestinian contingent is pointless when there are problems to clean up in my own house (i.e., the American Jewish community and, secondarily, Israel). I can only condemn the extremist narratives (on both sides) and call for an Israeli recommitment to the core values and vision of its founders; it is a shirking of responsibility for me to say “some of theirs act very badly, so ours must act badly, too.”

            NOTE: This Disqus account is automatically set up as BAASICS when I comment on Hyperallergic, but my views do not reflect the positions of the organization, which concerns itself with art and science, not politics.

          4. You seem to have a genuine desire for peace and reconciliation. There are others whose intent and leanings are less Wholesome. I won’t label anyone specific but Im well versed enough in debate tactics that the surest way to shut down your opponent is by ad hominem attacks. You Didntt do this but others dismiss pro israel articulate opponents as “ultra right wing nationalists” rather than address facts. Words matter. Also using words in capital like “occupied palestinian territories” and not disputed territories or the more neutral westbank speaks to an already concluded political position. It’s not neutral and leaves no room for peace agreements and compromise. UN resolution 242 does not call for full withdrawl to 1967 armistice lines. And the territory was captured from Jordan’s illegal occupation. Since there has never been a nation of Palestine yet the land remains disputed. It’s title is best kept neutral. It is deceptive language to label the territory Palestinian and the editor was not happy I called him out on it.

          5. Now your problem is with UN terminology, and you prefer instead to use right-wing Israeli terminology. And “more neutral westbank” is what you say to try to erase others — which is clearly your bigoted intent. The authors, who are Israeli Jews, and who actually live in Israel, do not comply with your ideology, that’s fine but no one cares that they aren’t nationalist enough for you — including them.

          6. They are an extreme left wing group that you are citing. You support their ideology and they are NOT indicative of israeli populstion as a whole. In fact the very title of the group “Erez rav” in Hebrew is referencing a biblical term in which people’s commited to Israel’s destruction mixed in with the Israelites as they left Egypt. Learn Hebrew. Sorry you cant spin your wishful thinking ink facts. And yes I do have a problem with terminology. The final word is UN resolution 242 and its authors. Squirm if you must but you cannot change facts by repeating lies often enough. The authors of that resolution were clear in interviews that my view is the correct one. Israel is not required to vacate all of westbank. The Oslo peace process as well was meant to facilitate compromise not Israel’s succumbing to Palestinian terror or dictats. Israel will not be cowed by terror. And will not be forced into giving up its vital security interests. You cannot wish away palestinian savagery. It has taken it’s toll and there is virtually no one left in israel stupid enough to believe in a peaceful Palestine. Have a nice day.

          7. Actually, I know the people who wrote it and met with them in Jerusalem last month. I know the meaning of the word and actually here’s some context for you, it was created part jokingly because people like you call them that. Discussing the use of photography in the occupation is not controversial, or at least it shouldn’t be, it is factually.

            But now I see — yet again — why they were and continue to be attacked. Both in person, and now on the internet by you.

          8. Attack. There you go again. You use inflammatory words to dismiss and defame anyone who doesn’t agree with you from a little sanctimonious self styled tower. How about addressing some facts I raised or in the spirit of intellectual honesty show photographic works of Israelis living under shadow of palestinian terror and rocket attack. And if you expect to be taken seriously defending a group that names itself after a group of evil destroyers is in poor taste. It shows the kind of callous disregard for Jews murdered by the “peace process” it shows very well why you and they deserved to be criticized.

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