Attacks by Jewish hooligans on Arabs, unprecedented incitement by right-wing politicians and clashes between Israeli Police and Arab youth. We've been here before, but never like this. By Ron Gerlitz This article is written at the height of an extensive, violent escalation in the Jewish-Arab conflict, both within Israel and between Israel and the Palestinians in the territories and the Gaza Strip. Regarding the events inside Israel, it is important to note the dramatic difference between the events of October 2000 and those of the past week. In October 2000, it was Arab citizens of Israel confronting the police. In…Read More... | 6 Comments
Arab citizens of Israel
It would do wonders for equality and integration, and Israeli Arabs seem willing to volunteer, but they're being pounded from both sides by Arab and Jewish nationalists. In principle, I don’t think there would be anything unjust in going so far as to draft Israeli Arab youths to do a year or two of civilian national service in hospitals, schools, etc. – even though there is a well-known, deeply entrenched pattern of discrimination against Arab citizens in this country. If it’s unjust to draft them to do national service in an old-age home, it’s much more unjust to force them…Read More... | 24 Comments
Tuesday's Haaretz editorial calls on Arab citizens to vote in the Israeli elections, despite the feelings of failure and disappointment they may have toward the Israeli parliament. The piece (accurately) states that voting numbers are relatively low among Palestinian citizens of Israel, resulting in a Kensset representation that is roughly half of their share in the populations. Quote: Therefore, the Arab public has no better alternative than the civic struggle, which demands patience. Despair and abstention are the worst enemies of such a struggle, and they are luxuries that Israel’s citizens can’t afford. Massive Arab turnout in this election would…Read More... | 17 Comments
Despite the onslaught of discriminatory legislation and racist declarations by public leaders, empirical data suggests that the government of Israel is closing the gaps between its Jewish and Arab citizens in many fields. The refusal to recognize those changes is dangerous and counter-productive. By Ron Gerlitz and Batya Kallus The policies of the current government and Knesset in relation to Arab citizens include statements that are divisive, discriminatory and dangerous. The provocations against the Arab leadership and members of Knesset are ongoing, and are strengthened by extremist elements of the government. However, all of the harsh declarations and actions by government ministers have not…Read More... | 34 Comments
The New York Times continues to push the myth that Israel was once liberal and democratic, and is now growing detached from these values. Now it publishes an op-ed by a former Knesset speaker, which promotes this notion and similar misconceptions about the United States and the U.S.-Israel relationship. Only a couple of weeks after its unusual editorial arguing that Israel’s democracy is in peril, the New York Times has published an op-ed in the same vein, written by a prominent Israeli public figure. Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Knesset, who almost became leader of the Labor party in the early 2000s,…Read More... | 102 Comments
Even from the right-leaning, Netanyahu-venerating paper Israel Hayom, I was taken aback by an op ed yesterday by Rivi Gutgold. I found it to be an anti-feminist assault that seems to pre-date Madmen and shatters any residual myth of the feminist Israel. It began: With all due respect to the feminist world in which we live, the truth of the matter is that in the days before Passover, when it comes to most women, their world is divided into two: one includes the women whose homes have been spotless and ready for Passover for two weeks, their counters already…Read More... | 19 Comments
The following op ed in Haaretz [Hebrew only] revisits the theme of how unpleasant it can be for an Arab citizen, native-born in Israel, to use his or her national airport to travel freely. Many people have heard this theme before; my colleague Aziz Abu Sarah has written about it thoughtfully, and I reported on a potentially positive Supreme Court ruling a year ago. At the time, I quoted my friend Adeeb Awad and a few others about their experiences. In his op ed this week, Adeeb expands his thoughts about an experience not often discussed: That of an Arab…Read More... | 14 Comments
A new survey of Arab citizens of Israel following waves of anti-Arab activity shows that most have not given up on Israeli society, but instead express strong support for social activism to advance Arab issues, general social problems, and an end to the occupation. With so much nastiness directed against them, it wouldn’t be surprising if Arab citizens have given up on Israel. But with insufficient polling and reporting on public opinion in the Arab community, it can be hard to know. And this is an important time to know how one-fifth of the population thinks. The current Knesset has…Read More... | 14 Comments
News sources reported during the day on the humiliating harassment of a foreign journalist by IDF soldiers, as she tried to enter Israel from a Gaza crossing. According to IDF radio (Hebrew) and the Jerusalem Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning, veteran photographer Lynsey Addario, working for the New York Times, was returning to Israel after an assignment in Gaza. The 27-week pregnant Addario – who just last March experienced the horror of being kidnapped and sexually assaulted at the hands of Qaddafi loyalists in Libya – contacted Israeli authorities responsible for the Erez crossing before arriving, asking and receiving approval to be…Read More... | 24 Comments
The leaders of a civil society organization working for equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel spoke on Tuesday before the Trachtenberg committee – the government-appointed panel charged with recommending steps to improve economic and social justice in Israel. The committee's invitation to Ron Gerlitz and Dr. Mary Totry of Sikkuy, the Association for Civil Advancement in Israel, might be partly a response to claims that the committee does not sufficiently represent Arabs in Israel. Headed by Harvard-trained economist Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, the panel was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and has generated widespread criticism. One sort of criticism actually…Read More... | 2 Comments
It is not surprising that Israel Beitenu ("Israel is our home"), the party that ran on the platform of “No Loyalty – No Citizenship” would propose a bill giving preference to those who have served in the IDF or national service when applying for public sector jobs, over those who have not. The bill is considered part of the loyalty/citizenship package. Since it’s mainly Arab citizens who do not perform IDF or national service – and Haredim – the bill represents a sort of reverse affirmative action: give the people who already dominate most of the Israeli public and private…Read More... | 6 Comments
By Aziz Abu Sarah The recent Supreme Court rebuke of the Airport Authorities in Israel came as a shining light of hope. The treatment of Arabs at Ben Gurion Airport has caused many controversies over the last few years. For me, this is not something I simply read about in the newspaper -- being a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem and a frequent business flyer I regularly experience discrimination at Ben Gurion. This discrimination takes a variety of forms, from extra security checks and humiliating requests such as taking off undershirts and pants to invasive personal questions about my relationships that have…Read More... | 5 Comments
A new survey by Professor Shibley Telhami, with the University of Maryland, provides helpful, realistic, not always happy information about attitudes in the region. Nrg and ynet both reported on the survey; but here’s my choice of the interesting highlights with the full poll data linked in. The bottom line is that that Jewish and Arab Israelis are feeling harsh but pragmatic; there are openings in support of peace, but it takes a close reading to find them. The surveys here were conducted for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, a center-liberal leaning think-tank where…Read More... | 11 Comments
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