Signs of Islamic fervor recalling the fundamentalism imspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini have been appearing in Arab towns in Israel and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Although the phenomenon so far has not reached alarming proportions, and while the similarities to the early stages of the Iranian revolution are few, the trend here has lit a warning light for Israeli security authorities, who have arrested more than 100 right-wing Moslem activists as a result of antisecular demonstrations during the past three weeks.
These are some of the recent signs of growing fundamentalist Islamic fervor:
Shouts of "Khomeini! Khomeini!" and "Allahu Akhbar" (Allah is great) were heard during a riot that abruptly ended a soccer game 10 days ago in this Israeli Arab town southwest of Nazareth. Scores of bearded youth who say they belong to the Moslem Brotherhood have been picked up by Israeli police since the riot for questioning about their Islamic activities. i
Moslem extremists in Gaza set fire to a movie theater three weeks ago and damaged stores and cafes where liquor is sold. Fundamentalists in Gaza have also intimidated women into wearing traditional full-length garments.
Cafe owners in Ramallah, in the West Bank, have received leaflets warning them not to sell beer or liquor because it is forbidden in the Koran.
Right-wing Moslem representation on student councils in Arab universities on the West Bank has increased sharply.
Radical Islamic literature is appearing with increasing frequency in Arab Bookstores.
Some mosques in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories have reserved sections of followers of the Moslem Brotherhood and meetings are a common sight.
Unlike Iran, where Moslem fundamentalists formed an alliance with the left to depose shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Islamic movement here is lined up solidly against the Communists and leftist nationalists and is directing much of its wrath at those groups.
But the signs of religious exuberance nonetheless are strikingly similar to the wave of Islamic unrest that has swept through other parts of the Middle East and western Asia.
The phenomenon, however, defies easy explanation, partly because it is still small and vaguely organized.
In the living room of a Moslem Brotherhood activist in this overcrowded and economically depressed town, seven bearded followers of the movement today sought to explain their dream of a purer Islamic society.
"I don't want to make the whole of Israel an Islamic state. I just want Moslems to return to the Koran, to go back to religion, said Suleyman Hassan Abu Shakra, 31, a construction worker who said he was jailed two days following the Jan. 19 riot at the soccer game.
"At the schools, they don't teach religion anymore. In the stores, they sell alcohol. The cinemas show films that offend the religion. Many things go against Islam in this town," said Shakra.
Asked for his views on Khomeini, Shakra said: "I respect Khomeni as a Moslem and a man who follows the Koran. But if Khomeini gets far from the Koran, he will be the same as Hussein, Sadat or Assad." He was referring to Jordan's King Hussein, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Syrian President Hafez Assad, who are known more for secular than for religious leadership.
Tewfik Mouhanna, 24, an accountant arrested after the disrupted soccer game, said, "In Islam, we don't beliee in men, we don't pray to any man, we pray to God. Khomeini is a Moslem man who we have to respect, as the Koran tells to respect all men who pray to God."
Mouhanna complained that all men in Umm Al-fahm who wears beards have been picked up by Israeli police for questioning. "We are not talking about a Moslem revolution, so let them stop harassing us," he said.
Political control in Umm Al-Fahm, a town of 20,000 whose residents remained after the 1948 war and became Israeli citizens, is shared by the Rakah (Communist) Party and a nationalistic group called Sons of the Village. Leaders of both groups charge that thay have become targets of the Islamic extremists in a power struggle, and that the Moslem Brotherhood would like to establish Islamic rule.
Raja Agbaria, a leader of Sons of the Village, estimated the nucleus of the Moslem Brotherhood at only 50 to 70, but said they are evident in all of the town's six mosques, and have all but taken over one of them.
Communist leaders, too, complained about the Islamic exremists and said that a week before the soccer game, their party headquarters was set afire by the fundamentalists.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, there have also been Islamic-inspired disturbances.
One of the targets of riots there earlier this month was the Red Cresent Society, whose chairman, Haider Abdul Shafi, is an outspoken supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Gaza sources said the disturbances began at a meeting of the directors of the Al-Azhar Islamic College when supporters of Shafi demanded the resignation of the college's rector. Rightist Moslem supporters of the rector were also said to be angered over plans, backed by Shafi, to build a PLO-financed secular university in the Gaza Strip.
After burning the Red Crescent offices, Moslem extremists rampaged through the main streets, damaging a theater, a youth center and stores that sell alcohol. About 50 suspects have been arrested.
One of Israel's leading Arabists, Emmanuel Silvan, of the Hebrew University, called the movement "basically reactionary," and said there is little Israel can do to control it. He said there appears to be no organization or coordination between followers in Israel and those living in the West Bank or Gaza.
"Is there Khomeini contagion? I really don't know, but as long as they see Khomeinism as a successful movement elsewhere, it is bound to be a boost to this movement," Silvan said.
While carefully seeking to avoid exaggerating the movement's strength, Silvan said that if an economic motivation presents itself -- such as massive joblessness among Arab workers as a result of a declining economy -- the phenomenon could grow.
"There are too many Arabs here who are materially satisfied and, therefore, not susceptible to this sort of thing. So far, it is a cultural phenomenon and it is far from being as serious as it has been in Egypt or Syria," Silvan said.
But in this hillside town, whre Islamic fervor runs deep and the popularity of heavy beards has grown among young men, Mouhanna has other ideas: "I feel good living in a Moslem society," he says.