Last Week’s Riots Continue to Be Deep Source of Concern

The violent events of “Black Tuesday”–March 30 –when riots erupted in a score of Arab towns and villages in Israel, continued to be the source of deepest concern today in government circles and among the broader public. Israelis are pondering the significance of the Arab general strike which was, in itself, generally ineffective but sparked bloody disturbances particularly among young Arabs.

They are trying to pin-point the immediate and long-range causes, to find ways to avoid a repetition and to determine what the future holds with respect to relations between Jews and the nation’s Arab minority, nearly half a million strong. Police Minister Shlomo Hillel prepared a “working paper” containing factual details on the riots. Copies were submitted to all of his Cabinet colleagues and it served as a reference at today’s Cabinet session.

Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, accompanied by his former advisor. Uri Thon, paid surprise, unofficial visits to Tamra, Sakhnin and Dier Hanna three Arab villages in Galilee where some of the worst violence occurred. Speaking to the local leaders in fluent Arabic he said he came not as a government minister but as an “old friend and companion” to listen to their version of events. It was Allon who described March 30 as “Black Tuesday.”

He promised that the loyal majority of Israeli Arabs would be encouraged and the hostile minority would feel the full force of the law. In that connection. Allon flatly rejected appeals by village elders for the release of young rioters arrested last Tuesday as a gesture of conciliation.

His reply was that the “hot heads” should learn their lesson. He said the event that accompanied the general strike represented the exploitation of accumulated Arab resentment by propagandists far from the Middle East who were interested in recruiting Israeli Arabs for their own purposes. His reference was obviously to the Soviet Union which, he implied, had operated through Israel’s pro-Moscow Rakah Communist Party to foment Arab violence.

Demands by right-wing Knesset members to outlaw Rakah have been categorically rejected by government circles. Apart from the fact that such action would run counter to Israel’s democratic ideals, it is widely felt that a visible Rakah is less of a menace than a Rakah driven underground.

Some ministers are believed to be pressing for the establishment of a permanent ministerial committee to coordinate all government activities involving Israel’s Arab community. Premier Yitzhak Rabin has expressed no definite views on that proposal. But the government is paying close attention to the views being expressed by Arab leaders known for their moderation and willingness to cooperate with Israeli authorities.

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