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Will initiative ignite riots?
Photo: Reuters
New plan: Youth club near Muslim grave
Ahead of municipal elections, deputy Tel Aviv mayor suggests reopening cultural center near sheikh's grave in southern neighborhood. Arab council member: This won't pass peacefully
An election gimmick or a move which may ignite clashes between Jews and Arabs in Tel Aviv? Deputy Tel Aviv Mayor Arnon Giladi (Likud) has suggested reopening a youth cultural club near the grave of Sheikh Raed Salameh in the city's southern Kfar Shalem neighborhood.

 

"It's a known fact that Muslims do not sanctify their graves as Jews do," he explained.

 

Not far from Kfar Shalem, seven young men from Hatikva neighborhood were arrested in recent days on suspicion of attempting to torch houses belonging to Arabs, but Giladi is undeterred.

 

In recent years, Muslims have been visiting the sheikh's grave with students in order to show them "which parts in the city used to belong to them in the past," says Giladi. "In other areas in Israel where only Muslims live, they build residential neighborhoods on lands under which Muslims are buried."

 

He is well aware of the fact that rebuilding the club near the grave may ignite clashes between Jews and Arabs in the city.

 

"I have no interest in all of this. All I want is to build a youth cultural club in a place which has already been used for this purpose.

 

"If anyone from the radical Left is interested in acting openly against the youth's interests in Tel Aviv's neighborhoods and in favor of the interests of Israel's enemies, they will face a very firm front on the part of myself and the sane voices in the City Hall."

 

'He shouldn't mess with us'

Council Member Rifat (Jimmy) Turk of Meretz said in response, "Aronon Giladi keeps on trying to hurt Arabs, during his last tenure as well. He began by cancelling Tel Aviv's twin city agreement with Gaza. He is a low-level politician.

 

"It appears that Giladi and other small politicians coming here for the elections are trying to go to extremes in order to gain popularity. Instead of taking care of Kfar Shalem and Hatikva neighborhood, he is looking to flare up the situation. I'm telling him and his friends from here that if he's looking for provocations, it will be something big that everyone will regret.

 

"I would like to believe that Tel Aviv's mayor will not follow a fool throwing a stone into a well and thousands of professors will not remove it. This is Muslim land, on Muslim territory, and neither he nor the mayor are authorized to touch this holy place. Whoever hurts what is holy to us, mosques and cemeteries, will lead to an ignition.

 

"He has enough places to find for youth clubs. He shouldn't mess with us. After what happened at Hatikva neighborhood with those young people who torched Arabs' homes, he is trying to cause a flare up instead of calming the situation down? Let's see if he's man enough to carry out this move. It won't pass peacefully, and this will be a real shame."

 

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