Racism in Israel, new report

From the daily Haaretz in Israel:


Civil rights report details racism in Israel in all its many shades

By Dana Weiler-Polak

Basic rights in Israel are increasingly conditioned on the identity and gender of those who seek to realize them, according to the annual report which the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is releasing Sunday. The report describes a reality in which Arabs receive education, work and maybe citizenship only if they serve in the army or perform national service.

Similarly, those who seek to live in some communities will be allowed their right to housing only if they fit a description which excludes Arabs, Sephardim, Russians, Ethiopians, religious or disabled people, as well as single-sex and single-parent families, according to the report.

In referring to what it called discrimination of Arabs, the association listed bills and ministerial proposals such as the so-called Nakba bill, which proposes to cut public funding for institutions that allow the commemoration of the Nakba – the day of mourning observed by some Arab Israelis to mark the creation of the State of Israel.

Another initiative noted in this context was that of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who proposed changing Arabic-language signs to use Arabic transliterations of Hebrew names of places.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s decision that anyone who doesn’t perform army or national service would not be admitted into the ministry‘s cadet course was also listed under this category.

Crackdowns on protest against Operation Cast Lead earlier this year was described in the report as “a trend of infringement on the freedom of speech of individuals and organizations which passed criticism on the government and the authorities.” The report says that during Operation Cast Lead, the police “limited freedom of expression with the backing of the attorney general, dispersed many legal demonstrations and withheld permits from others for illegitimate reasons that pertain to the political content of the demonstrations.”

The clause on anti-war protests also said that hundreds of demonstrators were arrested and called to be investigated. In some instances, attorneys from the State Prosecutor’s Office warned in requests for arrest extensions that if defendants are released, they “might continue to express their opinions and demoralize the public.”

In addressing the treatment of foreign workers and asylum-seekers, the report listed what it defined as “racist” statements by Interior Ministry workers in connection with the activity of the Oz immigration unit. This included Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s warning that foreign workers will “bring a multitude of diseases with them,” and statements by a senior ministry official who, in wishing the Oz officers good luck, quoted a saying which urges for the “eradication of evil from our midst.”

The ultra-Orthodox community also suffered racist treatment in 2009, according to the report. This occurred, among other places, in Ramat Aviv, Kfar Yona and Jerusalem. The report noted acrimonious internet responses to the shooting attack at a gay community center in Tel Aviv in August in which two people were killed.

Over the past two years, government offices have increasingly been ignoring court rulings which concerned their operation, according to the report. The state was found guilty of contempt of the court when it ignored a ruling which overturned a regulation preventing foreign workers from switching employers.

Similarly and among other examples, a ruling by the High Court of Justice that orders the reinforcement of all classrooms in the northern Negev against rockets has not been implemented.

Another issue discussed at some length in the report is what the report defined as “racist policies in the education system,” mainly toward Ethiopians. This assertion was made in relation to three semi-private schools in Petah Tikva which refused to admit children of families that immigrated from Ethiopia. The schools receive up to 75 percent public funding.

The creeping increase in the self-participation fees that health maintenance organizations charge patients is resulting in poor people not getting treatment for serious and basic medical needs, according to the report, which cites a report on the matter by Physicians for Human Rights.

The Physicians for Human Rights’ report also says that most of the people who seek medical treatment by the HMOs and other medical services are poor. Earlier this year the Health Ministry appointed a panel of experts to examine this problem. The panel was supposed to hand in its report by March, but no report has been released so far.

Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman on Monday said he believes Jewish law (Halakha) should be the binding law in Israel, Army Radio reported: here.

A Paris-based group founded to protect the Jewish community has warned that anti-semitic acts in France soared 75 per cent last year, emphasising that many were mounted as the Israeli government carried out its bloody invasion of Gaza.

8 thoughts on “Racism in Israel, new report

  1. Press Release, December 6, 2009

    Towards the EU ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Gush Shalom calls upon them to proclaim Jerusalem as the capital of two states

    Towards the meeting of the European foreign ministers, scheduled for tomorrow in Brussels, the Gush Shalom movement sent to the 27 foreign ministries and to the 27 embassies in Israel the text of the “Our Jerusalem” petition:

    “Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed-wire in its midst. Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country – West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine. Our Jerusalem must be the Capital of Peace.”

    The petition, initiated already in 1995 by the Gush Shalom people in cooperation with the late Feisal Husseini and other public leaders of the East Jerusalem Palestinians, was at the time signed by about a thousand public figures.

    “The European Union’s proclaiming Jerusalem as the capital of two states and an accelerated implementation of this principle in practice would be a desirable and positive act for Israelis, for Palestinians, for peace and the future of all who live in this region. The EU’s step would at last allow embassies to move to West Jerusalem. The government of Israel should have been the first to promote this idea” wrote Gush Shalom to the European foreign ministers.

    Gush Shalom rejects as false the assertion that making Jerusalem the capital of to states would constitute “division” of Jerusalem, since Jerusalem in its present situation is a divided city whose two parts are divided by a deep abyss. “Jerusalem is not a united city. Nir Barkat is the democratically-elected mayor of West Jerusalem and the imposed ruler of East Jerusalem, where he is assisting Jewish settlers to throw Arab inhabitants to the street. Jerusalem can only be united out of the free will of the two peoples who live in it, which would only be possible after the end of Israeli occupation”.

    Contact: Adam Keller 03-5565804 or 054-2340749


    Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians – Muslims, Christian and Jews.

    Our Jerusalem is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from the earliest antiquity to this very day – Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites-

    Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis. They and all the others who made their contribution to the city have a place in the spiritual and physical landscape of Jerusalem.

    Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed-wire in its midst.

    Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country – West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.

    Our Jerusalem must be the Capital of Peace


  2. Minister calls for religious law

    Israel: The justice minister provoked outrage on Tuesday by saying that Jewish religious law must become binding in Israel.

    Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said that the Bible contained “a complete solution to all the things we are dealing with.”

    Mr Neeman, an observant Jew, spoke at a rabbinical conference on Monday where he urged that biblical law be restored to its former glory.

    Opposition MP Haim Oron warned of a “troubling process of Talibanisation” in Israel.



  3. US supermarket ‘guilty of racism’

    United States: The huge US Albertson’s supermarket chain was found guilty yesterday of racial discrimination against 168 black and Latino workers by the Equal Employment Commission

    The workers alleged racial abuse and discrimination after bosses had failed to clean graffiti in staff rooms that depicted lynchings and swastikas.

    The government rejected the company bosses’ claims that they were not responsible because the graffiti predated their ownership of the chain and ordered the firm to pay almost £5.4 million to the workers.



  4. Uri Avnery

    Cast Lead 2

    DID WE win? Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Gaza War, alias Operation Cast Lead, and this question fills the public space.

    Within the Israeli consensus, the answer has already been given: Certainly we won, the Qassams have stopped coming.

    A simple, not to say primitive, answer. But that is how it looks to the superficial observer. There were the Qassams, we made war, no more Qassams. Sderot is thriving, the inhabitants of Beersheba go to the theater. Everything else is for philosophy professors.

    But anyone who wishes to understand the results of this war has to pose some hard questions.

    Was the real aim of the war to stop the Qassams? Could this have been achieved by other means? If there were other aims, what were they? Is the final balance sheet positive or negative, as far as the interests of Israel are concerned?

    I PITY the historians. They have to scrutinize documents, peruse protocols, disentangle tortuous texts.

    Documents are misleading. If Talleyrand (or whoever it was) was right in saying that words were invented in order to hide thoughts, this is even more true for documents. Documents falsify facts, hide facts, invent facts ? all according to the interests of the writer. They disclose a little to hide the rest. Anyone who has been involved in public affairs knows this.

    Therefore, let?s ignore the protocols. What were the real aims of those who started the war? I believe that they were as follows, in order of decreasing priority:

    To overthrow the regime in Gaza, by turning the life of the inhabitants into such hell that they would rise up against Hamas.

    To return to the Government and the army their self respect, which had been severely damaged in Lebanon War II.

    To restore the deterrent power of the Israeli army.

    To stop the Qassams.

    To free the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit.

    Let?s examine the results, one by one.

    THIS WEEK, hundreds of thousands gathered in the Gaza Strip for a demonstration in support of Hamas. Judging from the photos, there were between 200 and 400 thousand. Considering that there are about 1.5 million inhabitants in the Strip, most of them children, that was quite an impressive turnout – especially in view of the misery caused by the Israeli blockade that has continued throughout the year and the ruined homes that could not be rebuilt. Those who believed that the pressure on the population would cause an uprising against the Hamas government have been proved wrong.

    History buffs were not surprised. When attacked by a foreign foe, every people unites behind its leaders, whoever they are. Pity that our politicians and generals don?t read books.

    Our commentators portray the inhabitants of Gaza as “looking with longing at the flourishing shops of Ramallah”. These commentators also derive hope from public opinion polls that purport to show that the popularity of Hamas in the West Bank is declining. If so, why is Fatah afraid of conducting elections, even after all Hamas activists there have been thrown into prison?

    It seems that most of the people in the Gaza Strip are more or less satisfied with the functioning of the Hamas government. In spite of the misery of their lives, they may also be proud of its steadfastness There is order in the streets, crime and drugs are decreasing. Hamas is trying cautiously to promote a religious agenda in daily life, and it seems that the public does not mind.

    The main aim of the operation has failed completely.

    THE SECOND aim, on the other hand, has been achieved. The Olmert government, which lost public confidence in Lebanon War II, won it back in the Gaza War. That did not help Olmert himself ? he had to resign because of the cloud of corruption affairs hovering over his head.

    The army has restored its self-confidence. It has proved that the military deficiencies, that came to light at every step in the Lebanon War, were superficial. The public believes that in Gaza the army functioned well. The fact that a total of six Israeli soldiers were killed by enemy fire, while over a thousand people died on the other side, has reinforced this belief. Only few people are bothered by moral scruples.

    THE QUESTION whether the third aim ? deterrence – has been achieved is closely connected with another question: Who won the war militarily?

    In a war between a regular army and a guerrilla force, it is hard to decide what “victory” means. In a classic battle between armies, victory belongs to the side which remains in control of the battlefield once the fighting ends. Obviously that does not apply in an asymmetrical contest. The Israeli army did not want to stay in the Gaza Strip ? on the contrary, it was very keen to avoid such a possibility.

    Some argue that Hamas won the war: if a band of ill-armed guerrillas holds out for three whole weeks against one of the strongest armies in the world, that constitutes a victory. There is a lot of truth in that.

    On the other hand, the deterrent force of the army has certainly been restored. All Palestinian factions and all Arab forces in general, now know that the Israeli army is prepared to kill and destroy without any restraint in any military confrontation. From now on, the Hamas leaders ? as well as the Hizbullah chiefs ? will think twice before provoking it.

    THE QASSAMS have stopped almost completely. Hamas has even imposed its authority on the small, extreme factions, which wanted to continue.

    No doubt the newly restored deterrent force of the army has had a bearing on that. But it is also true that the army is taking great care not to cause regular incidents, as was their wont before Cast Lead. At least for now, the deterrence in the Gaza theatre is mutual.

    It can be asked whether a means could have been found to stop the Qassams short of war. If the Israeli government had recognized the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip ? at least de facto ? and maintained businesslike relations with them, and if it had not imposed the blockade ? could the missiles have been stopped? I do believe so.

    THE RELEASE of Shalit ? a secondary but important aim in itself ? has not been achieved. If Shalit is freed, it will happen only as part of a prisoner exchange, and that will look like a huge victory for Hamas.

    TAKING INTO consideration all these results, one can draw the conclusion that the war has ended in a kind of draw.

    Except for Goldstone.

    This war has dealt a fatal blow to Israel?s standing in the world.

    Is that important? David Ben-Gurion famously said that “it is not important what the Goyim say but what the Jews do.” Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, said that no nation can afford to behave without “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind”. Jefferson was right. “What the Goyim say” has an immense impact on all the spheres of our life – from the political arena to security matters. The standing of our state in the world is a vital factor in our national security.

    The Gaza War ? from the decision to throw the army into a densely populated area to the use of white phosphorus and flechette munitions ? has raised a dark cloud over Israel. The Goldstone report, coming as it did after the gruesome pictures broadcast throughout the war by all the world?s TV networks, has produced a terrible impression. Hundreds of millions of people saw and heard, and their attitude towards Israel has changed for the worse. This will have far-reaching impact on the decisions of governments, the attitude of the media and in thousands of big and small decisions concerning Israel.

    Almost all our spokesmen and journalists, from the President down to the last TV talk-show host, keep parroting that the Goldstone report is “one-sided”, “vile” and “lying”. But people around the world know that it is as honest a report as could be expected after our government?s decision to boycott the investigation. The damage increases from day to day. Some of it is irreversible.

    It is impossible to measure the results of the war without laying this fact on the scales. The upshot is that the damage done to us by the war outweighs any benefits.

    Some people in our leadership silently accept this conclusion. But there is no lack of voices ? both in the leadership and in the street – which talk openly about a “Cast Lead 2” as being just a matter of time.

    A saying attributed to Bismarck goes: Fools learn from their own experience, clever people learn from the experience of others. Where does that leave us?

    permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1261408947


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