British Zionist youth movements have expressed horror at “racist” elements “hijacking” the annual March of Flags through Jerusalem to mark Yom Yerushalayim.
Four movements have signed a joint letter to the Jerusalem municipality to change the route of the march away from the Muslim Quarter, as this year’s event falls on the eve of Ramadan and past marches have seen “the intimidation of residents”.
Signatories include Noam Masorti Youth, RSY-Netzer, Habonim Dror and LJY-Netzer, but by Wednesday it was unclear whether Bnei Akiva, FZY, Sinai, BBYO or Ezra will do likewise.
“The m has become an opportunity for the expression of racist attitudes and the intimidation of residents of the Muslim Quarter, which the march passes through,” the letter reads.
“During the march it is common to hear chants of ‘Death to Arabs and to see banging on the doors and windows of homes… Despite these problems, the Jerusalem municipality has this year tripled the budget for the march.”
There is a history of violent confrontation during the marches, and this year’s event is set to take place on the day before Ramadan, a day when Muslim residents decorate their homes and venture out to visit friends and family.
However, although surveys show that most Jerusalem residents would rather avoid this flashpoint and re-route the march, city authorities have so far refused to do so.
“We call on the Jerusalem municipality to prevent these problems by changing the route of the march away from the Muslim Quarter to stop those who want to hijack the event to express their own intolerance,” said the signatories.
“Racist actions are unacceptable and do not represent an appropriate celebration of the city of Jerusalem which we are so connected to.”