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Israeli judge hands jail sentences to Jewish teens who beat Arab youth

July 08, 2013|By Batsheva Sobelman
  • An Israeli Arab man and children are seen on a street next to Hebrew graffiti that reads, "Racism or assimilation" and "Arabs out" on June 18 in the village of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem. In an unrelated act that some attribute to racist attitudes, Israeli teenagers were sentenced Monday in the beating of an Israeli Arab youth in August 2012.
An Israeli Arab man and children are seen on a street next to Hebrew graffiti… (Mahmoud Illean / Associated…)

JERUSALEM-- Three Jewish teens were sentenced to jail on Monday for their part in the near-fatal beating of an Arab teenager last year, one of the most notable hate crimes in recent years.

The victim's father criticized the sentences as too light.

In August 2012, 17-year-old Jamal Julani was walking in downtown Jerusalem with friends when a group of Jewish teenagers jumped him, shouting anti-Arab slurs as they beat him until he needed resuscitation. 

Several weeks later, harsh indictments were served against nine suspects, all but one minors. The charges included incitement to violence and racially motivated assault.

On Monday, Jerusalem youth court Judge Yakov Tzaban handed down jail sentences of up to 8 months for three of the charged. One teenager who beat Julani entered a plea bargain and received 8 months in jail and a fine of 5,000 shekels (around $1,350). Two others who were not accused of taking part in the actual beating but were part of a "posse" looking for Arab victims were sentenced to three months and one month, respectively.

Because all but one of the nine teens involved in the incident were minors when the attack occurred, their names have not been published. In addition to those sentenced Monday, several of the others are reportedly taking plea bargains, with their cases not yet resolved.

The judge had harsh words for the defendants. According to media reports, Tzaban stated that "the racist flame was lit" the night of the attack, when a mob "decided Julani was not a human being but an object for them to do as they please." He described the attack as a "lynching."

Nearly a year later, Jamal is not fully recuperated. He cannot run, engage in sports or lift anything heavy, and doesn't attend school regularly, his father, Subhi, told Israeli media after the sentencing. Jamal has no memory of that night, his father said. 

Subhi was dismayed over the light sentences and the fine. "5,000 shekels?" he asked. "Is that their value of a person's life?"

"These sentences are like giving them a present so they can do this again," he said, adding that if Arabs had attacked a Jew like this, "they would have been sent away for 20, 30 years."

Subhi Julani said he is afraid for his sons and doesn't want them to hang out where they might encounter Jewish youth.

The unprovoked attack drew widespread condemnation from Israeli leadership and strong statements against racism and concern over Israel's Jewish youth growing increasingly intolerant. Educators were ordered to dedicate special school sessions to the incident.

The problem remains. This weekend, a Jerusalem restaurant was vandalized, its door sprayed with "death to Arabs" graffiti.

Maor Ventura, owner of the Brasserie, told local press his restaurant has been attacked several times in recent months by Jewish youths objecting to the restaurant's employment of Arabs. In previous incidents, he said, rocks were thrown at patrons and Arab employees were physically attacked.


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