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Israeli Arabs fear stigmatization following Tel Aviv shooting

The great majority of Israeli Arabs condemns and rejects terror acts, such as the shooting on Friday at a Tel Aviv pub, but this does not prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from blaming them all.

Israel’s Arab citizens had been hoping that the country’s Jewish population would not rush to blame their entire sector for the attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv Jan. 1, by saying that all Arabs supported this murder and terrorism. That was what they had hoped, at least, until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Jan. 2 at the scene of the incident, which left two dead and seven injured.

Soon after it was reported that the terrorist behind the attack was Neshat Melhem, a resident of the Arab village of Arara in Wadi Ara, northern Israel, Al-Monitor spoke with residents of his village and with people who knew him from the nearby town of Umm al-Fahm. They all tried to dispel efforts by what they called “irresponsible politicians” to use the murders to incite Israeli Jews against the Arab population. They had hoped that the very fact that it was Melhem’s father who called the police of his own accord to identify the murderer as his son, or the claim that Melhem had a history of mental illness and violence against his own family, would convince Israelis that he acted alone and on behalf of no one but himself.

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