Monday, August 3, 2009

Israelis go to war with a new weapon – Beethoven

By Jonathan Cook

"TARSHIHA, ISRAEL // The Jewish community of Kfar Vradim, set in the still-verdant hills of northern Israel close to the Lebanese border, has taken the idea of neighbourly feuds to a new – and noisier – level.

Last week, it set up a large sound system, pointed it at the neighbouring homes in the Arab town of Tarshiha, the nearest of which are less than 1km away, and blasted them with Beethoven and Mozart.

Officials said they were forced to take the drastic step in retaliation for what they call the “deafening” blare of Arab music from late-night street parties the villagers have to endure each summer through the wedding season......

Relations between Israeli Jews and the country’s large minority of 1.3 million Arab citizens have been marked by tension since Israel’s founding in 1948. Jews typically claim the minority is disloyal, while Arabs say they face endemic discrimination.

Rarely, however, has music become such a contentious issue........

Tarshiha, which dates back to the Canaanite period, has a mixed population of 5,000 Muslims and Christians compared to Maalot’s 16,000 Jews.

But like most Arab communities inside Israel, Tarshiha has little control over its room for growth, which has been tightly restricted by successive governments.

You have to ask why Vradim is so close to Tarshiha. The goal, as with other Palestinian communities, is to surround us and limit our space for development,” said Ms Bishara.

Mr Dakwar said Kfar Vradim was preparing to expand on to a new area of Tarshiha’s lands, to its east, bringing yet more Jews close to Tarshiha – and its weddings.

Although most Jewish and Arab citizens live in entirely separate communities, a long-standing policy by the authorities’ to “Judaise”, or make more Jewish, areas heavily populated with Arab citizens, like the Galilee, has often brought the two groups into uncomfortable proximity......."

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