Police Purim party was a racist nightmare, Arab officers say
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Police Purim party was a racist nightmare, Arab officers say

Holiday cheer nearly became brawl after glasses, racial slurs were hurled at Arab cops in Or Yehuda

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: Incoming Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh and Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan toast at the welcoming ceremony held in Alsheikh's honour, at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, on December 03, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90
Illustrative: Incoming Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh and Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan toast at the welcoming ceremony held in Alsheikh's honour, at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, on December 03, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90

In an event hall in the town of Or Yehuda, northwest of Tel Aviv, policemen from around the district gathered earlier this month to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.

It was a joyous scene, with famed Israeli singer Dudu Aharon providing the entertainment.

But, according to an account of the story published by Army Radio on Tuesday, the festivities took a dark turn when Aharon put down the mic and one of the Arab policemen who serve in the area picked it up.

The police officer, unnamed in the story, began to sing the widely popular social media hit, “Rain, rain is dripping,” which became famous earlier this month after a Hebrew teacher from the Arab town of Tira uploaded the catchy tune, accompanied only by a darbuka drum.

Most of the crowd of policemen, Jews and Arabs, began singing along and dancing to the song. But two riot police instead grabbed glasses from the table next to them and threw them at their Arab colleague who was singing.

The singer, the report said, put down the mic, walked over to his colleagues, and asked why they had thrown the glasses at him.

“Piss off,” one of the riot policeman responded, according to eyewitnesses quoted in the report. Then the other riot policeman reportedly slapped him across the face.

Some police saw the danger of a brawl breaking out and tried to intervene. Others, however, joined the two riot policemen and began hurling racial slurs at the Arab officer, as well as other Arab colleagues who were present at the party.

So far, the Arab policemen who were at the party told Army Radio, no one has been reprimanded for what happened at the Purim party.

“If the situation were reversed and this behavior was directed at a Jewish policemen,” the Arab policemen added, “the sanctions and the response would be immediate.”

An Israel Police spokeswoman said news of the incident was conveyed immediately to the Internal Investigations Department and is being investigated.

“This behavior is uncharacteristic of the Israel Police, which strives to provide optimal service to all citizens of the State of Israel and acts to integrate members of all groups, communities, and religions in the ranks of the police,” Luba Samri told The Times of Israel in a statement.

The Israel Police is in the midst of a campaign to recruit 1,300 Arabs largely in order to bolster policing in Arab towns.

The campaign is being led by Jamal Hakrush, who last year was appointed deputy commissioner, making him the highest-ranking Arab policeman in the history of the State of Israel.

Hakrush has argued his rise is proof that there is no institutional racism against Arabs in the force.

While Arabs comprise around 20 percent of Israel’s 8 million citizens, the vast majority of them Muslims, only 1.8% of the police force is Arab-Muslim. A total of 3% is Arabic-speaking, including Christians and Druze.

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