Razi Khasisi, an Israeli Druze who serves as a combat soldier in the IDF's Golani Brigade, was beaten after speaking Arabic while at a 'soldier's night' event at a bar in northern Israel. A similar incident took place only a few weeks ago in Jerusalem, highlighting the risks of growing racism in Israel.
Khasisi, from the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, was beaten at the Ultra-Sound bar in Kibbutz Yagur on Thursday and taken to a hospital in Haifa.
Amir Khasisi, his cousin, spoke to Ynet and said his cousin was attacked after a group of fellow Jewish bar-goers called him "Arab" in a derogatory manner and told him that "you are not wanted here" after they overheard the cousins speaking Arabic – their mother tongue and an official language in Israel.
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The two sides began to argue vocally, prompting the owner of the bar to throw both groups out. Razi, Amir and another friend went to their car and began to leave the place when the violence began.
"A friend of my cousin was driving and Razi was sitting next to him. The group from the bar attacked us in the parking lot. One of them picked up a stone and smashed it through the window. It broke my cousin's jaw," Amir recalled.
The combat soldier was then taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa where he underwent surgery and is still hospitalized because of his wounds.
"The insult is worse than the physical pain. He is so proud of his unit and of his service. He loves his country," the cousin said of Razi's commitment to Israel and the IDF.
"You can see it in his Facebook profile, everything he writes is either in favor of his country or his unit. I just don't believe something like this can happen. But this just shows that it's not a matter of patriotism or the IDF, it's a matter of being allowed to speak your language unhindered.
"It is unconceivable that in Israel someone will be attacked just for speaking Arabic in public. We are horrified. Our parents don't know what to do with themselves and the family is in shock," he said.
The family noted that the police have yet to take Razi's account of the event as he is still having trouble speaking because of his injury.
Two weeks ago,Tommy Hassoun another Druze who served in the IDF from Daliyat al-Karmel, was brutally attacked by a group of Jewish men in Jerusalem – reportedly after they heard him speaking Arabic.
The men, who were wearing skullcaps, hit the 21-year-old Druze student and broke a glass bottle on him. Hassoun was hospitalized suffering from bruises to his face and back of his head.
The incident prompted Israeli President Reuven Rivli, who knew Hasson from his days in the IDF, to call Hassoun's father to show his support for the family.
Hassoun's father, Ramzi, was shocked by the incident. "On a personal level I believed up until now that this is one nation – I never saw a difference between a Jew and a Druze. I believed and I will continue to believe in the future that this is the land of the Jewish nation – it has a right to live here. There was never doubt about this. I blame myself (and) I blame my Jewish friends for not doing enough to educate. To speak Arabic is not shameful – it does not make you a potential terrorist," said Ramzi.