Thousands at funeral of Palestinian killed in Australia

Mourners cry during the funeral of Arab-Israeli student Aya Maasarwe in the Arab-Israeli town of Baqa Al-Gharbiya on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Thousands at funeral of Palestinian killed in Australia

  • The 21-year-old was raped and murdered in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne
  • Thousands of people gathered in silence at Baqa Al-Gharbiya, a town with a Muslim majority

BAQA AL-GHARBIYA, ISRAEL: Thousands of mourners attended the funeral on Wednesday of Aya Maasarwe, an Arab Israeli student killed in Australia, in her hometown of Baqa Al-Gharbiya in northern Israel.

The 21-year-old was raped and murdered in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne shortly after midnight on Jan. 16 when she was on her way home from a comedy show.

Her body was found by passers-by in bushes near a tram stop.

Police in Australia, who have described the attack as “horrific,” have arrested and charged a suspect, 20-year-old Codey Herrmann, with her rape and murder.

The murder of Maasarwe, who had been studying in Australia for a year, shocked the country and sparked a huge outpouring of grief that saw thousands attend vigils in her memory.

“I appreciate the support of all these people, in the whole world and also in my town,” said her father, Saeed Maasarwe, with Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan, by his side.

Thousands of people gathered in silence at Baqa Al-Gharbiya, a town with a Muslim majority, as mourners carried the coffin containing Maasarwe’s body to her family home.

The only sound that could be heard was of Muslim prayers from loudspeakers.

Youths marching in a procession held up black banners that read “It’s time to say: Stop killing women” and “Women have the right to live in peace” in both Arabic and English.

A crowd of mourners then followed Maasarwe’s coffin as it was taken to the Al-Sarat Mosque and cemetery where she was laid to rest.

Hours earlier, the town’s mayor, Khaled Abu Mukh, and Israeli Arab MP Ahmad Tibi accompanied Maasarwe’s father as her coffin arrived at the airport.

In a video posted on social media, Tibi said Maasarwe was now the daughter of all Arab Israelis.

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948.

They account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population and largely support the Palestinian cause.


How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

Updated 22 April 2019
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How Meir Kahane’s toxic legacy poisoned the Palestinian peace process

  • Brooklyn-born rabbi who demanded forced emigration of Arabs and inspired Israel’s far right is latest subject of Arab News ‘Preachers of Hate’ series
  • As a member of the Israeli parliament, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration

JEDDAH: As Israel’s most right-wing government in living memory prepares to take office, the outlook for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has rarely been more dismal.

After his narrow election victory this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clinging to office by assembling a coalition of Knesset members with no interest in peace. They range from far-right ultra Zionists to overt racists. Many, in particular the Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power” party, are acolytes of Meir Kahane — a Brooklyn-born rabbi who co-founded the militant Jewish Defense League in 1968,  joined the West Bank settler movement and established an extremist Israeli political party.

It is because of this toxic legacy that Kahane is the subject today of Preachers of Hate — the Arab News series that exposes extremist clerics of all religions and nationalities, places their words and deeds in context, and explains their malign influence on those who follow them.

As a member of the Knesset, Kahane proposed laws to strip Arabs of citizenship and force their emigration. 

In the end he proved too extreme even for the Israeli far right; he was disqualified from running for office, and was eventually assassinated in New York in 1990.

Kahane’s hatred lives on, however, in Israel’s continuing rejection of the Palestinian people’s entitlement to basic human dignity, far less a meaningful peace process and an independent state.

As the leading academic and Arab News columnist Yossi Mekelberg writes today: “Few people have contaminated the discourse within Israel with sheer hatred and anti-Arab bigotry as much as Meir Kahane.”

 

Also Read: Meir Kahane: A torch to fuel anti-Arab hatred