Death to Arabs

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Desecration of a grave in Bethlehem; The graffiti says "death to the Arabs" (מוות לערבים, mavet laArabim)

Death to Arabs (Hebrew: מוות לערבים Mavet La-Aravim) is an anti-Arab slogan which is used by some Israelis and is considered a hateful, genocidal, and racist slogan.[1] It is used in multiple contexts, such as football, graffiti, marches in Jerusalem and in reaction to the killing of Israelis as a call for revenge.


In 1980, it was reported that "death to Arabs" had been written on one of the entrances to the University of Haifa, along with swastikas.[2] At the same time, the YESH movement was calling for the expulsion of Arab students.[2]

Meir Kahane's followers held rallies in Jerusalem during which "death to Arabs" was shouted. In 1989, Kahane's Kach party was banned due to its advocacy of racism.[3] Lehava members shout "death to Arabs" during rallies.[4][5] During the October 2000 riots, Israeli Jews violently attacked Arabs, shouting "death to Arabs"; two Arabs were killed.[6] In 2009, it was reported that Yisrael Beitenu party members had gathered on roads in the Galilee during the party's conference and were shouting "death to Arabs" to passing cars.[7] On 16 August 2012, a seventeen-year-old Palestinian, Jamal Julani, was nearly beaten to death in Zion Square by Jewish teenagers who were shouting "death to Arabs".[8] After the 2015 killing of Fadi Alloun in Jerusalem, settlers shouted "death to Arabs" in front of his body.[9] When Elor Azaria was tried for the extrajudicial killing of a disarmed Palestinian who lay wounded on the ground after he had been shot and disarmed following an attempted stabbing of an Israeli soldier earlier,[10] people at mass demonstrations chanted "death to the Arabs".[11] One poll found that 65 percent of Israeli Jews approved of the killing.[11]

Since the late 1990s, "death to Arabs" has been a commonly heard slogan in Israeli football stadiums.[12] Beitar Jerusalem, a football club known for anti-Arab fans, routinely has supporters shout "death to Arabs".[13] Following the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE in 2020, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, an Emirati businessman, announced plans to purchase a 50 percent stake in the club. Co-owner Moshe Hogeg said the new arrangement was an attempt to recast the club's image.[13] However, the deal did not proceed, and collapsed in 2022 following claims of financial misconduct and Hogeg being accused of sex crimes.[14]

"Death to Arabs" is commonly used in graffiti[15] and has been observed after price tag attacks.[16]

It is used by mobs in reaction to the killing of Israelis, wanting revenge.[17] Palestinians have a mirror phrase, Itbah al-Yehud [butcher the Jew].[18]

The nationalist Jerusalem Day marches commemorate the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem.[9][19] The "death to Arabs" slogan is heard during these marches, such as marches which were held in 2015,[9] and 2021.[1]


Israeli sociologist Amir Ben-Porat explains the use of "death to Arabs" in the context both of changes in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as well as the belief of many Israelis that Arab citizens of Israel should leave the country.[12] He states that the slogan "originates and draws support from certain components of the ongoing political culture in Israel".[12] The proliferation of the use of the slogan coincided with calls from the political right to expel Arab citizens of Israel.[12] According to Haaretz writer Or Kashti, increasing use of the slogan by youth indicates the success more than the failure of the Israeli education system.[20] According to Ian S. Lustick, the phrase and other similar ones "mimic Nazi slogans and German behavior in minds attuned to Holocaustia".[21]

Legal scholar Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian says that messages such as "death to Arabs" are "part of the settler colonial aesthetic landscape" of Palestinian spaces, and that they "converge to produce a violent aesthetic atmosphere for the colonized and legitimate crimes against them".[9] Anat Rimon-Or has argued that the slogan—associated with the Mizrahi working class—causes more upset in liberal Israeli Jewish society than Arab deaths inflicted by Israelis.[22][23]

Nooran Alhamdan of the Middle East Institute points to a double standard: "Palestinians are constantly forced to clarify what they mean by 'from the river to the sea,' & even when clarified have their intentions assumed, meanwhile a significant portion of Israeli society finds nothing wrong with 'death to Arabs' & we're told 'they don't really mean that'".[1] Nadim Houry, the director of the Arab Reform Initiative, says that while groups of Israelis shouting "death to Arabs" are "portrayed as marginal phenomenon in Israeli society. Palestinian or Arab says something hateful, whole society deemed violent."[1] New York Representative Jamaal Bowman commented, "This is a genocidal chant. Let's call it what it is."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mackey, Robert. "Israel's New Leaders Won't Stop "Death to Arabs" Chants, but They Will Feel Bad About Them". The Intercept. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Arab Students in Israel". Journal of Palestine Studies. 10 (3): 140–146. 1981. doi:10.2307/2536471. JSTOR 2536471.
  3. ^ Hedges, Chris (2011). The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress. PublicAffairs. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-56858-640-3.
  4. ^ Fogiel-Bijaoui, Sylvie (2017). "Sleeping with the 'Enemy': Mixed Marriages in the Israeli Media". Journal of Israeli History. 36 (2): 213–228. doi:10.1080/13531042.2018.1545820. S2CID 159554175.
  5. ^ Blumenthal, Max (2015). The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza. Verso Books. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-78478-310-5.
  6. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (27 August 2019). Middle East Conflicts from Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection [4 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-4408-5353-1.
  7. ^ Beinart, Peter (27 March 2012). The Crisis of Zionism. Macmillan. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-4299-4346-8.
  8. ^ Ihmoud, Sarah (Autumn 2018). "Policing the Intimate: Israel's Anti-Miscegenation Movement" (PDF). Jerusalem Quarterly (75): 91–103. ProQuest 2284745988.
  9. ^ a b c d Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera (2016). "The Occupation of the Senses: The Prosthetic and Aesthetic of State Terror". British Journal of Criminology. 57 (6): azw066. doi:10.1093/bjc/azw066.
  10. ^ Gross, Judah Ari; staff, T. O. I. "Soldier moderately hurt in Hebron stabbing; attackers killed". Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  11. ^ a b Bhatia, Monish (2019). "Book review". State Crime Journal. 8 (2). doi:10.13169/statecrime.8.2.0285. S2CID 245944078.
  12. ^ a b c d Ben‐Porat, Amir (2008). "Death to the arabs: the right‐wing fan's fear". Soccer & Society. 9 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1080/14660970701616662. S2CID 146738294.
  13. ^ a b Holmes, Oliver (27 December 2020). "Far-right Israeli football fans rebel over Beitar Jerusalem's new Arab owner". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
    Halbfinger, David M.; Rasgon, Adam (8 December 2020). "Israeli Soccer Team, Infamous for Anti-Arab Fans, Has New Co-Owner: a Sheikh". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  14. ^ Rothwell, James (14 January 2022). "Arab-Israeli-owned football club sold off amid sex abuse scandal". The Telegraph. Beitar Jerusalem, which counts former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu among its fans, made headlines in 2020 after an Emirati royal announced plans to become its co-owner and vowed to crack down on racist fans... But a year on, the arrangement with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan has collapsed amid claims of financial misconduct, while its owner Moshe Hogeg is under house arrest after being accused of a series of sex crimes. (registration required)
  15. ^ Zohar, Gil (2015). Israel: Stories of Conflict and Resolution, Love, and Death. Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-68020-003-4.
  16. ^ Rouhana, Nadim N.; Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera (2021). When Politics are Sacralized: Comparative Perspectives on Religious Claims and Nationalism. Cambridge University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-108-84851-0.
  17. ^ Rubin, Gabriel (September 2009). Fear or Rage?: Assessing Public Opinion and Policy Responses to Terrorist Attacks. APSA 2009. Toronto: American Political Science Association. SSRN 1451360.
  18. ^ Arens, Omri; Kaufman, Edward (2012). "The Potential Impact of Palestinian Nonviolent Struggle on Israel: Preliminary Lessons and Projections for the Future". Middle East Journal. 66 (2): 242. doi:10.3751/66.2.12. JSTOR 23256683. S2CID 141786635.
  19. ^ "Far-right Israelis march in East Jerusalem, Lapid condemns chants of 'Death to Arabs'". Al Arabiya English. 15 June 2021. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  20. ^ Agbaria, Ayman K. (2018). "The 'right' education in Israel: segregation, religious ethnonationalism, and depoliticized professionalism". Critical Studies in Education. 59 (1): 18–34. doi:10.1080/17508487.2016.1185642. S2CID 148375700.
  21. ^ Lustick, Ian S. (2019). Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-5195-1.
  22. ^ Shenhav, Yehouda (2013). Beyond the Two-State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay. John Wiley & Sons. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7456-6294-7.
  23. ^ Tamir Sorek, ‘Hapoel Tel Aviv and Israeli Liberal Secularism,' in Danyel Reiche, Tamir Sorek eds. Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East, Oxford University Press, 2019 ISBN 978-0-190-06521-8 pp.55-72,p.62 p.67:' ‘This inconsistency of the Israeli establishment-constant demand to maintain the sacred status of the Holocaust, on the one hand, and the steady instrumentalization of its memory for achieving political gains, on the other – paved the way for the provocative reference to the Holocaust by Hapoel fans. Referring to Betar fans, the philosopher Anat Rimon-Or had identified the slogan ‘death to the Arabs’ as a form of counter-hegemonic protest, since it interferes with the humanistic liberal rhetoric so often deployed as a cover for Zionist indifference to Arab life. Explicit demands to kill Arabs both back the Zionist ethos and disrupt it by exposing its inconsistency.'

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