Institutional Racism in Israel 31


I have frequently compared Israel as a state to apartheid South Africa. Citizens of the country are defined and confined by race. it is not just that all ethnic Jews, wherever they were born, have a right to live in Israel whereas many ethnic Palestinians who were actually born in Israel do not. Jews in Israel have a right of immigration for their spouses; arabs in Israel do not. Arab Israelis are actually forbidden by law from marrying Palestinians outside Israel. Many Arab communities are physically cut off by barbed wire.

It is worth reading this interview with Dr Hatim Kanaaneh. The interviewer, as is frequently a problem with pro-Palestinian groups, does not couch his questions in neutral terms but in pejorative terms which may put off the neutral reader. Try to get over that, and just concentrate on the substance of what old Dr Kanaaneh, who uses language with care and neutrality, has to say.

Here are some key parts:

Discrimination is a built-in part of life and the laws of the country. Remember that what we are dealing with here (and the basic issue of contention in the conflict between Zionism and all of us native Palestinians) is a conflict over land.

As a Palestinian I am disqualified by law from equal access to land ownership or use. This is given a deeper expression in the form of the Law of Return granting any Jewish person anywhere in the world automatic citizenship with all the benefits that accrue with it of access to land, housing, financial and social assistance, and to the symbols of the state while no Palestinian who is not born here can dream of ever becoming a citizen.

Recently laws were passed specifically to prevent our children from marrying other Palestinians and from the right to bring their spouses under the standing laws of family unification applicable to Jewish citizens.

The absolute majority of land we, the Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel since its establishment in 1948, once owned has been confiscated for the benefit of our Jewish co-citizens through a maze of some three dozen laws specifically designed for the purpose. Were it not for the 1976 uprising that has come since to be commemorated as Land Day, we would have lost the remainder. We, nearly one-fifth of the total population of Israel, now own about 3 per cent of its land. After all, we are dealing with what has been defined by Zionism as “the land of Israel” in an ethnic sense, a definition that excludes us, Palestinians. The last stroke in the continuing saga of disenfranchisement is the requirement from us to pledge allegiance to Israel as the state of the Jews. And once we take such an oath, it would be up to the same racist crowd to define what constitutes a breach of it, a process inevitably leading to our expulsion one way or the other.

Our youth, unlike Jewish youth, are exempt from conscription. Positions from which they are disqualified on this basis when they seek employment run the gamut from civil aviation all the way down to the manufacturing of ice-cream.

The worst part of the daily discrimination that we meet with is the fact that much of the final decisions on so many little items are left to the discretion of low-level bureaucrats. These, by and large, have been brought up on a deeply self-centred world-view that sees the world as one of constant struggle between “us”-the-Jews and “them”-the-goyim and considers one’s duty as serving his own people. This, of course, leaves me out of “the favours” many officials consider it their duty to do their clients. Intentional obstructionism is more often what we face.

Another area in which this phenomenon is evident is the differential implementation of the law. Take, for example, the practice of house demolition within Israel. Mind you, we are not speaking here of the savage collective punishment practised by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians in the occupied territories. We are speaking of the practice of demolition of homes built without permit within Israel proper.

In absolute numbers there are more illegally constructed structures in Jewish communities, but the demolition is practised almost exclusively against Arab home owners. The basis for the construction of homes without permit is also rooted in discriminatory practices in the laws of zoning which in many cases have retroactively criminalized all residents of many villages whose existence predated the state itself. Such “unrecognized villages” are frequently the site of home demolitions.

The cumulative end result of all the openly discriminatory laws, the hidden disadvantages, and the differential application of the rules and regulations are clearly seen in comparative figures from officially published data of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

As a public health practitioner I can point to the single most telling indicator of the well-being of a community, that of infant mortality rate (IMR), or the number out of a thousand infants born in a certain year who die before their first birthday. This statistic regarding the most vulnerable segment of a population reflects such community attributes as the income level, the level of education, the sanitation, etc.

The relative ratio of the IMR between Arabs and Jews in Israel has run at the level of almost exactly 2 since statistics were ever collected on both groups. In the last decade it has been on the rise, a reflection of increasing discrimination. One could look at many other statistics such as the level of poverty, education, housing, etc. and the gap is obvious, but IMR sums it up best.

It is worth reading the whole interview carefully. Israel now has a Foreign Minister from a party whose major election platform was the need for further action against Israeli Arabs.

http://www.redress.cc/palestine/atibbs20090408


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31 thoughts on “Institutional Racism in Israel

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  • MJ

    “I have frequently compared Israel as a state to apartheid South Africa”.

    There is perhaps at least one crucial difference:

    “The South African whites couldn’t look at the rest of the world and decide that the attacks on them were solely as a result that the world was entirely filled with ‘anti-Boer-ites’. They had to accept that the rest of the world held its disgust at apartheid honestly. Not so the Jews. World Jewry has an automatic excuse for every comment on the actions of Israel: “anti-Semitism”. Over time, this has created a monster: Jews can literally do no wrong as any third party critic of their behavior must be motivated by this one ulterior motive, hatred of the Jews. Over time, this obsession with anti-Semitism has turned World Jewry into a psychopath, never responsible for its acts as any and all criticism is entirely evidence of the failings of the critics”. (From the Xymorpha blog).

  • Anas Taunton

    I went to Israel in 1973 as the guest of a Jewish student on his way to the UK from Australia. The prejudice I heard from my hosts on that visit has apparently continued to fester for another 35 years into collective insanity.

    The Israelis could have chosen pluralism and made a multi-religous/ethnic spiritual Dubai. They could have chosen living separately in harmony. What they have in fact chosen is the equivalent of putting an open wound in a plastic bag and refused any medical assistance.

    I find it hard to use the word Zionism to describe this process, because that would imply a political strategy.

    It seems to me that the poison of that small, enclosed, apartheid society is likely to kill off both private Judaism and the political force of Zionism together, unless they accept help from the outside.

  • Self hating Joo

    Craig, thanks for posting this. Israeli racism has rankled with me for a long time. I always felt sick to the stomach when I read about these racist laws and incidents against Palestinians. Zionism and Judaism is the reason I converted to another religion, scientology, where harmony and plurality is accepted.

  • David McKelvie

    Some years ago, I think it was in 1982, I heard Dr Israel Shahak (not long before his death) speaking in London. His prognosis for Israel was negative in the long run. He reckoned that unless Israel was willing to “become just another Middle Eastern state – a kind of Jewish Lebanon – and live in peace with its neighbours” (from my notes of the talk) in the long run it was doomed.

  • writerman

    I actually think that religion, and perhaps even ethnicity, has less to do with the situation in Palestine/Israel, than the crude, controversial, and thorny question/concept of Power.

    The Western Jews that carved Israel out of Palestine, did so because they could. They had superior military strength, and they took what they wanted with it. It was pure conquest, by a stronger ‘tribe’ over a weaker one, the Palestinians. The land was taken by the sword, and I imagine it will eventually be taken back by the sword.

    But then one drags all the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ into the equation by trying to find a ‘moral’ ‘religious’ ‘ethnic’ ‘political’ justification and rightness, for the whole sordid conquest. We didn’t just take the land because we could, we took it because we had a ‘right’ to it, a right sanctioned by blood, and through our God. So poor old God, is a racist too!

  • writerman

    I actually think that religion, and perhaps even ethnicity, has less to do with the situation in Palestine/Israel, than the crude, controversial, and thorny question/concept of Power.

    The Western Jews that carved Israel out of Palestine, did so because they could. They had superior military strength, and they took what they wanted with it. It was pure conquest, by a stronger ‘tribe’ over a weaker one, the Palestinians. The land was taken by the sword, and I imagine it will eventually be taken back by the sword.

    But then one drags all the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ into the equation by trying to find a ‘moral’ ‘religious’ ‘ethnic’ ‘political’ justification and rightness, for the whole sordid conquest. We didn’t just take the land because we could, we took it because we had a ‘right’ to it, a right sanctioned by blood, and through our God. So poor old God, is a racist too!

  • writerman

    I actually think that religion, and perhaps even ethnicity, has less to do with the situation in Palestine/Israel, than the crude, controversial, and thorny question/concept of Power.

    The Western Jews that carved Israel out of Palestine, did so because they could. They had superior military strength, and they took what they wanted with it. It was pure conquest, by a stronger ‘tribe’ over a weaker one, the Palestinians. The land was taken by the sword, and I imagine it will eventually be taken back by the sword.

    But then one drags all the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ into the equation by trying to find a ‘moral’ ‘religious’ ‘ethnic’ ‘political’ justification and rightness, for the whole sordid conquest. We didn’t just take the land because we could, we took it because we had a ‘right’ to it, a right sanctioned by blood, and through our God. So poor old God, is a racist too!

  • John D. Monkey

    Writerman

    I think it’s actually the other way around: it’s about something even more basic and primitive than Power: it’s about land first, power second. There is a deep attachment to ownership of land and territiory hard-wired into us, (presumably for evolutionary reasons), that civilisation can only constrain not eliminate. Even in the UK today people are obsessed with their “land”, fighting over hedges, parking rights, footpaths, privacy, etc.

    So to pursue your second thought, in order to convince yourself you have the right to something you covet (the land), you rationalise a God given duty to take it.

    Your last but one sentence also applies to the creation and westward expansion of the USA. A connection there, maybe?

  • punterhunt

    What a complete load of horsehit. There is racism, sexism and homophobia everywhere in the world. Israel is not perfect but no means the worse. It is the only country in the ME where men and women are equal, it is the only country in the ME where Muslims are equal to Kaffirs and it is the only country in the ME where homosexuality is tolerated and legal.

    Murray, tell me is there discrimination and racism in Iran for example? If you were a gay man would you visit Tehran? As for that gimp – self hating Joo – good riddance, I hope you bring done the Scientologists.

  • oneuniverse

    I’d be much happier discussing Israeli racism if we also mentioned Palestinian racism.

    To those saying that Israelis use ‘anti-semitism’ as an excuse, please remember that at the time of the foundation of the Israeli state, al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader during the 30’s and 40’s, was a devoted fan and accomplice of Hitler – there’s documented evidence that he asked Hitler for permission to implement the Final Solution in Palestine. He was broadcast on Nazi Berlin radio, exhorting Arabs to “kill the Jews wherever you may find them – this pleases God”. He was to have been prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials, but escaped.

    Hitler and the Nazi regime was finally defeated and their sick ideology discredited before the world.

    Unfortunately, the same thing didn’t happen with the Nazi-inspired ideology in the Middle East.

    If you look at the propaganda of Hamas, you will see strong parallels with Nazi propaganda. This is not by accident.

    Any discussion of Israeli racism needs to at least mention this complementary fact.

  • Craig

    punterhunt and oneuniverse

    As apologists for Zionism go, you are both pathetic. Of course I unreservedly condemn the human rihts record of the Iranian government. Now tel me why does that make it better for Israel to have institutionalised racism?

    Of course you can find racism everywhere. But it should be illegal; in Israel it is the opposite, racism is provided for in scores of statutes.

  • punterhunt

    Craig, down to insults now are we. Israel has the best race relations record in the whole of the ME. People are equal whether male or female, Jew, Muslim or Kaffir, gay or straight, black, brown or white. Did you know that Jews make up 75% of the population and the arabs make up the other 25%. Israeli arabs hold senior positions in the army and in government.

    62% of the Jews are Mizrahi or Sephardic, these Jews originated in North Africa and the ME. They are not European. Why are they there? Answer because they were ethnically cleansed from the Islamic world when Israeli was created. Now let me see, is there a Jew friendly country nearby that the Sepharads and Mizrahi can go to? Oooh I can certainly think of one where civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights exist. So there, the arabs created the conditions for Zionism. They made Zionism necessary. They should either put up or shut up.

    One thing Craig are you the reincarnation of the Maitreya?

  • o.u.

    Craig, I’m not sure why you feel that extreme anti-Jewish racism and violence on the part of the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbours, stretched over decades since before Israel’s foundadtion, have had no significat role in forming Jewish attitude (and laws) towards their Arab neigbours?

    Why ignore the fact that Israel has been surrounded by Muslim countries mostly bent towards the state’s destruction since its inception? (and whose behaviour their own native Jews is no better)

    In such a context, it is a matter of existential necessity to keep a Jewish majority in Israel.

    It’s ridiculous and medieval, yes, but so are the attempts to murder the Jews as a race. Or are you blind to the presence of any such sentiment or ideology in the Middle East?

  • George Dutton

    punterhunt/oneuniverse

    You have got this all wrong.

    There is and never has been ANY kind of problem/trouble between TRUE believers of Judaism and the Muslim or Christian faiths.

    The problems/trouble stems from people who say they are Jews and Muslims or Christians who are in fact atheists who use religion as a tool for their own self-enrichment.

    This man will explain it to you better then I.

    Listen to a truly GREAT man…

    “Rabbi Weiss, Outside Annapolis Peace Confab, Rips Zionism”…

    http://tinyurl.com/bbbmr6

  • MJ

    Punterhunter’s grasp of history is woeful. Zionism pre-dates any conflict between Jews and Muslims. Prior to the creation of the state of Israel several hundred thousand sephadic Jews were living in Syria, Palestine, Iran etc, peacefully coexisting with the Muslim majority. Indeed it was to these countries that European Jews often took refuge in response to the various European pogroms.

    Many of them emigrated to Israel when it was created. It was not because of any ethnic cleansing by Muslims.

    Iran still has a large Jewish community that continues to turn down financial bribes from Israel to emigrate. They obviously rather like it there. Still, what do they know? I’m sure if punterhunter and oneuniverse drop them a line they can put them straight.

  • oneuniverse

    George Dutton, are you saying that the various violent fundamentalist Islamic groups, for example, are actually aetheists? That seems a groundless assertion to me.. any evidence for it?

    Rabbi Weiss of Neteurei Karta is a fringe figure, rejected even by other anti-Zionist Jewish organisation. This is the man who said of Ahmadinejad : “It is the complete opposite; he wants peace and not to destroy the Jewish nation, that’s what he explained to us.”

    Sorry Rabbi Weiss – I can speak Farsi (Persian), and his pronouncements to the people, and official statements, do not advocate peace with Israel, but rather its destruction.

    MJ: “Zionism pre-dates any conflict between Jews and Muslims.”

    Just not true. Discrimantion and periodic violence against Jews in Arab lands has a long and documented history, predating Zionism by centuries.

    It hasn’t been consistently awful, but to deny that there was any conflict is ridiculous.

    MJ: “Many of them emigrated to Israel when it was created. It was not because of any ethnic cleansing by Muslims.”

    The 800,000+ Jewish refugees from Arab lands who emigrated to Israel were often forcibly expelled, losing their lands and possessions in the process.

    Again, this is well documented, and not denied by the expelling countries.

    As for the Jewish population of Iran, over 70% (ie. those who could) fled after the Islamic revolution. I would take any official Jewish pronouncements of contentment with the Iranian regime with a pinch of salt, knowing what we do about how political disagreement with the regime is often dealt with Iran.

  • George Dutton

    “This is the man who said of Ahmadinejad : “It is the complete opposite; he wants peace and not to destroy the Jewish nation, that’s what he explained to us.”

    Sorry Rabbi Weiss – I can speak Farsi (Persian), and his pronouncements to the people, and official statements, do not advocate peace with Israel, but rather its destruction.”

    oneuniverse

    That seems a groundless assertion to me.. any evidence for it?

    I don’t think you do speak Farsi or you would not make a statement/Lie like that…

    http://tinyurl.com/ytx8uu

  • oneuniverse

    George Dutton,

    Farsi is my first language, although I’m more fluent in English.

    re: Nourouzi’s article, which tries to minimise Ahmadinejad / Khomeini’s statement

    Firstly, the article is only about one specific quotation.

    Ahmadenijad has made many other inflammatory statements over the years (you can see an English list at http://www.adl.org/main_International_Affairs/ahmadinejad_words.htm ). They cannot all be explained away.

    In the article, Nourouzi’s translation of the phrase is : “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” ie. cease to exist.

    I’m not sure how that is any better than “wiped off the map.” Care to explain?

    Also, you haven’t even tried to explain how you came to the conclusion that violent fundamentalist religious groups are actually aetheist, from our previous exchange.

  • George Dutton

    “Also, you haven’t even tried to explain how you came to the conclusion that violent fundamentalist religious groups are actually aetheist, from our previous exchange.”

    God said “thou shall not kill” Those who truly believe do not kill.

    “I’m not sure how that is any better than “wiped off the map.”

    You are not sure?. You didn’t read the link I gave above? or you would know.

    “Ahmadenijad has made many other inflammatory statements over the years (you can see an English list at http://www.adl.org/main_International_Affairs/ahmadinejad_words.htm ). They cannot all be explained away.”

    They would say the things they say,wouldn’t they.It’s like asking a political party who you should vote for.

    “In the article, Nourouzi’s translation”

    oneuniverse

    It is NOT just Norouzi translation (as you know) but the translation off Farsi experts the world over.

  • George Dutton

    “Re: your question about the quotation from Rabbi Weiss”

    “I got it from here:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3291956,00.html

    That article say’s…”Neturei Karta is a small group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews”…I think they are just Orthodox Jews…all spin to make it out to be something it is NOT by inserting the word…”Ultra”.

    Rabbi Weiss has stated that he wants all people to live together,all religions in a democratic system.Once again see the link I have given above.

  • oneuniverse

    George Dutton: “God said “thou shall not kill” Those who truly believe do not kill.”

    In your judgement, they are not truly religious. In their professed opinion, they are.

    You quote some peaceful scripture (“God said thou shalt not kill”), there is other scripture that calls for violence against unbelievers.

    eg. Koran 5:33

    “The Punishment for those who oppose Allah and his messenger is : Execution or Crucifixion or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land .”

    But wouldn’t crucifiction kill them? So much for your scripture, and your argument.

    And you still haven’t explained why the you think that the violent fundamentalists are atheists ie. they don’t believe in the existence of God. I take it that you just can’t back up your assertion.

    “”I’m not sure how that is any better than “wiped off the map.”

    You are not sure?. You didn’t read the link I gave above? or you would know.”

    The article pointed out that the phrase didn’t mention “map” or the name “Israel” (although it referred to the “regime occupying Jerusalem”, so we know what they mean).

    But how does that make “vanish from the page of time” any better than “wiped off the map”? You still haven’t answered this.

    “They would say the things they say,wouldn’t they.It’s like asking a political party who you should vote for.”

    What – so calling for the elimination of a nation is just party politics as usual? I don’t think so.

    “It is NOT just Norouzi translation (as you know) but the translation off Farsi experts the world over.”

    I never contested the veracity of Nourouzi’s translation, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at (apart from maybe constructing a straw-man argument).

    re: Neteurei Karta

    After the horrific protracted torture and murder of the Jewish couple in Nariman House during the Mumbai terrorst attack, Neturei Karta issued a leaflet criticizing the Chabad movement for its relations with “the filthy, deplorable traitors ?” the cursed Zionists that are your friends.”

    Neteurei Karta sound to me more like sick extremists than proponents of tolerance.

  • George Dutton

    “In your judgement, they are not truly religious. In their professed opinion, they are.”

    In God’s judgement.

    “And you still haven’t explained why the you think that the violent fundamentalists are atheists ie. they don’t believe in the existence of God. I take it that you just can’t back up your assertion.”

    I already have…If they kill they have gone against God.Who but atheists would do this?.Rabbi Weiss also say’s this.What part of…God said “thou shalt not kill”..do you not understand or are you saying you know better then God?.

    “The article pointed out that the phrase didn’t mention “map” or the name “Israel” (although it referred to the “regime occupying Jerusalem”, so we know what they mean).”

    “But how does that make “vanish from the page of time” any better than “wiped off the map”? You still haven’t answered this.”

    Words are important they can cause wars, death and immense suffering. To try and make out one thing to be another as you do is despicable and criminal in the extreme and you know it is…

    “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.” This is the passage that has been isolated, twisted and distorted so famously. By measure of comparison, Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war.”

    By saying…”wiped off the map”?…you are trying to make one thing into something entirely different.Anyone who reads your posts can see this.

    Why don’t you come out and say you are a Zionist…Ashamed?…I like so many others can understand that.

  • oneuniverse

    George Dutton: “In God’s judgement.”

    How do you know what God thinks? If you’re relying on scripture, I’ve already pointed out scripture that is contradicts your claim.

    George Dutton: “If they kill they have gone against God.Who but atheists would do this?”

    How about someone who believes in God, but is mistaken in his or her interpretation of God’s will? Can you see that he might also kill (as countless examples demonstrate) ?

    George Dutton: “Words are important they can cause wars, death and immense suffering. To try and make out one thing to be another as you do is despicable and criminal in the extreme and you know it is…”

    I was pointing out that “wipe from the map” and “vanish from the page of time” are quite similar in their intention ie. make something cease to exist.

    So I wasn’t trying to make out “one thing to be another”, but actually saying that they’re both equally inflammatory statements.

    As you say, words are important, and can cause wars, death and suffering. That’s why Ahmadinejad’s pronouncements are wicked, whicever particular phrasing they use.

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