March 23, 2006

Racism on the Rise in Israel

A recent poll conducted in Israel reveals that 68% of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in the same apartment building as an Israeli Arab, 46% would refuse to allow an Arab to visit their home, and 41% of Israeli Jews support the segregation of Arabs and Jews in places of recreation.
"Racism is becoming mainstream. When people talk about transfer or about Arabs as a demographic time-bomb, no one raises their voice against such statements. This is a worrisome phenomenon," Bachar Ouda, director of the Center for the Struggle Against Racism, said on Tuesday. The report covered the year 2005 and the center will, in the future, present monthly and bi-annual polls.
These opinions are translated into discriminatory policies and violent attacks against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
During the course of 2005, 225 racially-motivated incidents directed at Arab citizens were reported to the center or in the media. The center believes that less than 20 percent of attacks or other incidents are ever reported.

Responding to the report, Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh said racism against Israeli Arabs "is a direct result of official racist and discriminatory policies" dictated by the government.

Who are Israeli Arabs?!

Palestinians with Israeli citizenships (aka 'Israeli Arabs') have long been targets of discrimination as they represent the growing number of non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
Their status is often overlooked by the international community because of the focus on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Palestinian citizens of Israel represent more 20% of Israel's population and number over 1.2 million. Most are Muslim (80%), in addition to 10% Chrisitian, and 10% Druze. The state's emphasis on it being Jewish in nature lays the ground for the inherent discrimination against the non-Jews.

According to ADALAH, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel:
In 1947, the Palestinians comprised some 67% of the population of Palestine. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was established. During the Arab-Israeli war that immediately followed, approximately 780,000 of the pre-1948 Palestinian population fled or were expelled, forced to become refugees in the neighboring Arab states and in the West. Of the 150,000 Palestinians who remained in the new state, approximately 25% were displaced from their homes and villages and became internally displaced persons as the Israeli army destroyed over 400 Arab villages. As a result of the war, the Palestinian population in Israel found itself disoriented and severely weakened. They had been effectively transformed from members of a majority population to a minority in an exclusively Jewish state. They lacked political as well as economic power, as their leadership, as well as their professional and middle classes, were refused the right to return and compelled to live outside of the state.
Second Class: Discrimination Against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel's Schools (HRW)
Mossawa: The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel
Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

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At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 percent of the population — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze).1

Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 8 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel's ambassador to Finland and the current deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Oscar Abu Razaq was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the first Arab citizen to become chief executive of a key government ministry. Ariel Sharon's original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who served as a minister without portfolio. An Arab is also a Supreme Court justice.

Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel's founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.2

In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that the government cannot allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose.2a

The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.

Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military. Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.

On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.

Although Israeli Arabs have occasionally been involved in terrorist activities, they have generally behaved as loyal citizens. During the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars, none engaged in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty. Sometimes, in fact, Arabs volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists. During the outbreak of violence in the territories that began in September 2000, Israeli Arabs for the first time engaged in widespread protests with some violence.

The United States has been independent for almost 230 years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, 60 years after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only 57 years.


At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does really "Israel discriminates against Israeli Arabs by barring them from buying land."????????

***** In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel's War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92 percent belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do really "Israeli Arabs are discriminated against in employment." ??????

********* Israeli law prohibits discrimination in employment. According to the State Department, all Israeli workers "may join and establish labor organizations freely." Most unions are part of the Histadrut or the smaller Histadrut Haovdim Haleumit (National Federation of Labor), both of which are independent of the Government.


Do really "Arabs held in Israeli jails are tortured, beaten and killed."????????

******** Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone and complaints about the treatment of prisoners in American institutions abound. Israel's prisons are probably among the most closely scrutinized in the world. One reason is the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.

Israeli law prohibits arbitrary arrest of citizens, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards. Israel holds no political prisoners and maintains an independent judiciary.

Some prisoners, particularly Arabs suspected of involvement in terrorism, were interrogated using severe methods that have been criticized as excessive. Israel's Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1999 prohibiting the use of a variety of abusive practices.

The death penalty has been applied just once, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man largely responsible for the "Final Solution." No Arab has ever been given the death penalty, even after the most heinous acts of terrorism.


Does really "Israel uses administrative detention to imprison peaceful Arabs without trial." ???????

***** Israel inherited and continued certain laws adopted by the British. One is the use of administrative detention, which is permitted under certain circumstances in security cases. The detainee is entitled to be represented by counsel, and may appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court. The burden is on the prosecution to justify holding closed proceedings. Often, officials believe presenting evidence in open court would compromise its methods of gathering intelligence and endanger the lives of individuals who have provided information about planned terrorist activities.

Administrative detention is not necessary in much of the Arab world because the authorities frequently arrest people and throw them in jail without due process. No lawyers, human rights organizations or independent media can protest. Even in the United States, with its exceptionally liberal bail policy, people may be held for extended periods awaiting trial, and special legal standards have .been applied to allow the prolonged incarceration of Taliban and al-Qaida members captured in Afghanistan.

“One does not judge a democracy by the way its soldiers immediately react, young men and women under tremendous provocation. One judges a democracy by the way its courts react, in the dispassionate cool of judicial chambers. And the Israeli Supreme Court and other courts have reacted magnificently. For the first time in Mideast history, there is an independent judiciary willing to listen to grievances of Arabs — that judiciary is called the Israeli Supreme Court.”

— Alan Dershowitz

At 12:20 AM, Blogger moi said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I would've liked to hear your personal opinion on the matter, instead of just copying and pasting the above "information" from a staunchly pro-Israeli PR website. Just because we're on the Internet, does not mean we disregard all ethical rules, including plagiarism. In any case, I will respond to the claims in your comments.

1. Israel is not "one of the few places in the ME where Arab women may vote." In fact, Arab women can vote in various types of elections in most countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and a few others. Also on the voting/running for office issue, contrary to what your sources state, Arabs have continuously faced intimidation when running for office, and many have faced an uphill legal battle in attempting to run for public office. The 2003 elections is a recent example; see ADALAH's reports on this issue.

2. My post did not discuss the democratic nature of the state of Israel. I do not claim that Arabs do not have the right to vote or run for office. The institutionalized racism that we are discussing here, is present, even if not publicly sanctioned by the Israeli government. De facto discrimination and racism has the same affect as de jure discrimination and racism: non-Jewish citizens of Israel do not receive the same funding or rights, and do not enjoy the level of freedoms that Jews do.

3. Yes, Israel does discriminate against Israeli Arabs by imposing hurdles for home construction, land purchase, and land lease. Instead of just throwing out baseless assumptions and statements, here is a pending Supreme Court case on this issue, courtesy of ADALAH:

H.C. 9205/04, Adalah v. The Israel Lands Administration, et. al. (case pending).
Challenging Discriminatory Governmental Policies Regarding the Leasing of Land and Eligibility for Housing Assistance in Arab Bedouin Towns in the Naqab. Petition and motion for an injunction submitted to the Supreme Court in 10/05 in Adalah’s name and on behalf an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel against the Bedouin Development Agency (BDA), the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), and the Ministry of Construction and Housing. The petition challenged the following policies governing eligibility to lease land in Arab Bedouin towns in the Naqab: (i) the BDA requirement that individuals submitting applications must have served in the Israeli army or in other Israeli security forces; (ii) the ILA’s Decision No. 1028 from 5/05, which affords large discounts on the price of leasing land to those who have served in the Israeli army or in other Israeli security forces ; and (iii) the Ministry of Construction and Housing’s policy of not issuing a certificate required by the BDA to an applicant who is married to a non-citizen , irrespective of the couple’s socio-economic situation.
This case clearly shows the inherent discriminatory legal statute that Arabs are faced with because they do not serve in the military, which affects everything from medical insurance to land ownership as seen in the above case.

4. The statement on torture is by far the most absurd. It is well known that Israel is the one of the few countries in the world that is open about its "legal" torture policies. They are documented by The Washington Post, BBC's Israel Accused documentary,Addameer, The Daily Star, Amnesty International, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and many others.

Finally, thank you for the quote by Alan Dershowitz. Anyone who has the slightest idea of what is occurring in Israel today dismisses Dershowitz as a liar and mouthpiece for AIPAC and the Israeli right in general. For the sake of argument, quote someone with a little more respect in this area.
I will leave you with this final note. The Israel Democracy Institute's 2003 report states: For nearly every indicator, Israel places in the lower half of the list. Protection of human rights in Israel is poor; there is serious political and economic discrimination against the Arab minority; there is much less freedom of religion than in other democracies; and the socioeconomic inequality indicator is among the highest in the sample .

The problem is not that Israel does not allow its non-Jewish citizens to vote or run for office. This is hard to avoid. However, the fact that Israel responds to international criticism of its inhumane actions by claiming it is the only democracy in the Middle East is simply deceptive. Israel is not a Western-style liberal democracy, and will never become one as long as it continues to emphasize its exclusive Jewish nature.


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