MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) conducted a solo demonstration in Nazareth on Sunday afternoon after police canceled a rally against Arab Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi that was to take place in the city.
Police cited security concerns, and the fact that much of their manpower had been called south, in the decision to call off the march, which had been expected to draw 1,000.
Despite the police decision, Ben-Ari arrived in Nazareth at the scheduled time with his entourage. Though the police forbade Ben-Ari from demonstrating, they allowed him to walk around the city accompanied by police. The MK proceeded to conduct a short tour of the city while holding a large Israeli flag.
Meanwhile, a counter-rally in support of Zoabi took place at the entrance to Nazareth, attended by Zoabi herself, who spoke out against the “free reign” given to racism “even in the Knesset.”
Zoabi, a vocal critic of state policies, was censured in 2010 for taking part in a flotilla to Gaza. She recently drew ire from the right by saying in an interview that Israel had “no right to live in security.”
Ben-Ari was joined in Nazareth, which is mostly Arab, by right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir though they did not tour the city with him. The three are leaders of the “Expel Zoabi from the Knesset” campaign.
In late February, the group received police permission to hold the Nazareth demonstration, having held similar processions in Arab towns Umm al-Fahm, Jaffa and Rahat.