An Arab Israeli man who even adopted a Hebrew name in a bid to integrate into Israeli society has been the victim of a series of of abusive attacks by his Jewish neighbors in recent months.
The man, who goes by the quintessentially Israeli name of Yoram Israeli, moved to a religious neighborhood in Netanya last year, and according to Channel 2, since then has become the victim of ongoing harassment, including the torching of his car four times in the past year.
In addition, hate mail and letters threatening him were sent to his house.
“This car was used to drive my kids to school…[The attacker] came to the college [where it was parked] and burned the car, here inside the college,” Israeli said, showing a Channel 2 crew the burned remains of his vehicle.
Israeli was born in the city. He grew up in a trailer and recently became eligible to receive housing from the state. He was given an apartment in the building where his family is now being hounded.
“I don’t believe this. What is this? They’re terrorists,” he said, standing near the heap of rusting metal and molten glass and plastic that used to be his Peugeot. The arson was so fresh the carcass of the vehicle was still in the parking spot where it was set alight.
“It makes no difference whether I’m Arab or Jewish, I’m not a racist. I love everybody, I thought I would live with them and among them and that my kids can live here and integrate with the local kids. But no, they won’t have any of that,” he continued.
According to Channel 2, Israeli once barely escaped a Molotov cocktail thrown at him.
“They want me to leave the building because I’m an Arab,” Israeli said. “We serve in the military; my father, my brothers, they all did army [service].”
A letter sent to Israeli contained an explicit death threat: “Three torched cars were not enough…You received a phone call two months ago, I asked nicely that you disappear and leave Netanya. In short…you have 24 hours; these bullets are coming to you,” the letter, which came with two pistol bullets, warned.
Israeli said he has filed complaints several times but each time the police closed the files for “lack of evidence” — this despite, Israeli said, evidence he supplied to the police.
A Channel 2 query to police confirmed that Israeli was not involved in any criminal disputes. An unnamed police official said the motive for the car burnings was “unknown,” and did not acknowledge that they were racially motivated.
The neighborhood rabbi, Eliezer Shlush, wrote a letter to the public housing Amidar company, asking it to supply the Israeli family with alternative housing.
The rabbi defended his position in a phone call with Channel 2.
“I think he does not fit the neighborhood on account of his uh…temperament. It’s a religious neighborhood… So, he cannot be religious, therefore he should look for a place that suits him,” Shlush said.
Asked about the car burnings and an incident where the door to the Israeli family home was burned, the rabbi said it was “not my responsibility. I’m not handling this.”