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Why don’t we hear calls to boycott Afula?

Residents of northern Israeli town Afula demonstrate against the sale of a house to a family of Palestinian citizens on 13 June 2018 [Twitter]
Residents of northern Israeli town Afula demonstrate against the sale of a house to a family of Palestinian citizens on 13 June 2018 [Twitter]

The Afula council’s consensus to prevent Arabs from living in the city has created a racist environment in which all of the council members took an oath to preserve its “Jewish nature” and to close the municipal park to them. Such actions are a declaration of war against the Arabs, who constitute the main purchasing power in the city.

In war, retaliation is usually equal to the original actions, and the use of all self-defence weapons becomes permissible, especially if the battle is fair and part of a historic conflict over the Palestinian presence on this land. It is also unreasonable for us to be humiliated and dealt one blow after the other and remain silent in the face of this, instead shopping and purchasing goods from them. We cannot increase their profit and double the tax revenues for their racist council, which does not tolerate our existence as residents and our lounging in the city’s parks. However, they insist on benefitting from our presence as consumers and shoppers.

At a time when the racist nation-state law provides legal cover for such anti-Arab measures and acts, such as closing the parks to Arabs and the courts giving in to protests and cancelling the building tenders won by Arab citizens, we must not be silent. We must put those behind such actions in the face of the balance of profit and loss.

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We all know that Afula is known as the “Capital of the Valley”. It remained in place for many years until the Russian and Ethiopian immigration to the city doubled in the late 1990s, reaching 50,000. This immigration was not an economic boost for the city, but instead worsened its economic-social situation. It is ranked fifth on the socio-economic ladder, not far from Umm Al-Fahm, Nazareth and other Arab towns.

If “Arab migration”, so to speak, to cities such as Afula, Nazareth Illit and Karmiel, is a solution to the housing crisis, the Arab towns would lose hundreds and perhaps thousands of highly educated professionals with high levels of education and incomes, who would contribute to raising the socio-economic level of the Israeli cities they were migrating to, no the opposite. Generally, this class is formed in the north and are mostly Arabs, because their Israeli counterparts are moving to Tel Aviv in search of money and a higher standard of living.

Afula, with its service institutions and commercial networks, is considered a civic and economic centre for more than 150,000 people from the surrounding towns, the overwhelming majority of whom are Arab. An Arab belt surrounds it, which could suffocate it, just as it currently stimulates it, if their inhabitants decide to treat it the way they are being treated and call for boycotting its centres and shops. This is especially true since Jenin, Nazareth and Nazareth Illit are only a few minutes away from Afula and could act as alternative centres.

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Recently, dozens of buildings have been constructed on the entrances to Afula and its main streets, built as part of the so-called Government Ceiling Project, which includes 11,000 new apartments and a plan to double its population to 100,000. In addition to the new apartments, the project also includes developing and improving the infrastructure and investment, educational and technological projects, with the total government investment amounting to about $229 million.

On its part, the council administration and its racist members fear that a large part of these apartments will be filled with Arabs who have become a powerful economic force and whose towns and cities suffer from a suffocating housing crisis. They are therefore trying to anticipate events by creating psychological and material barriers, as is the case with the tenders and protesting in front of Arab homeowners in the city. This later led up to the racist atmosphere created by the council.

It is strange that these disgusting racist actions are occurring without any response or retaliation. Why don’t the local Arab councils whose residents are being affected by these measures and punishments take action? Why don’t the

National Committee and the Follow-up Committee call for the boycott of Afula markets and its shops?

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arab48 on 29 November 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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