The mayor of Ashkelon’s decision to bar Arab workers smacks of 1930s Germany, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Friday.
Mayor Itamar Shimoni on Thursday came under fire from Israeli leaders across the political spectrum for announcing that he would terminate construction of bomb/rocket shelters at any kindergarten where Arab workers were employed and also order the posting of armed guards outside kindergartens near building sites that employ Arab construction workers.
Barkat called Shimoni’s move “the wrong decision” and “irresponsible,” telling Army Radio that “You can’t outlaw an entire public, as was done in Nazi Germany 70 years ago.”
“I can’t but think of where we were 70 years ago in Europe,” Barkat said. “We mustn’t generalize like the generalization against Jews then. Here in Jerusalem we have tens of thousands of Arab workers.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday criticized Shimoni’s announcement, saying “There’s no place for discrimination against Israeli Arabs. We mustn’t generalize about an entire population because of a small minority of violent and belligerent [individuals].”
Barkat echoed that sentiment, remarking that Israel “must make a very clear distinction” between terrorists and the general population. He pointed out that the sister of one of the terrorists from this week’s attack in Har Nof is an outstanding City Hall employee who’s worked for the Jerusalem government for over 10 years.
The mayor called for strict punishment of “bad people.” He added that he had discussed the possibility of stripping citizenship of terrorists’ families with the prime minister and cabinet, as well as more stringent punishment against inciters and rioters.
He called on Jerusalem businesses to continue to employ Arab workers, commending the Har Nof synagogue’s administration for its “morality,” and “dignity and wisdom” in holding onto its Arab employee in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly attack in which four worshippers and a policeman were killed.
While Barkat said in a separate interview with Israel Radio on Friday that there is no alternative to a unified Jerusalem, he conceded that he doesn’t enter the Shuafat refugee camp — a Palestinian area inside the municipal boundaries — because of security regulations.