The Israeli government may be cracking down on human rights NGOs and left-wing activists, but Palestinians citizens of Israel are the ones suffering from concrete persecution — with sometimes fatal results.
The recently-passed law prohibiting the entry of boycott supporters into Israel is just the latest in a string of legislation and administrative measures aimed at curtailing freedoms and cracking down on dissent against the occupation. But this broad trend actually obscures two separate phenomena, with distinct dynamics and implications.
The first one is the ongoing oppression of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Although better off than the non-citizens in the West Bank and Gaza, this minority has long suffered discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of Israeli authorities. Unfair budgeting and planning, land confiscations, surveillance and political suppression, even outright state violence, are some of the methods used to marginalize almost a fifth of the country’s population. While the level of mistreatment ebbs and flows — sometimes in response to political or cultural assertion by Palestinian citizens — its fundamental nature remains the same.
The second phenomenon, which has developed more recently, is the targeting of mainly Jewish dissenters from civil society, academia and the arts. Ironically, this trend was pioneered from within civil society itself, by groups such as NGO Monitor, Israel Academia Monitor, and Im Tirzu, who have initiated public campaigns to demonize human rights organizations and university professors critical of the occupation. Soon enough, however, they were joined by legislators and the government. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has been tracking this issue, including several laws that passed, dozens that have been proposed, numerous administrative measures, and numerous statements by government officials.
These two phenomena are interlinked and often overlap, but they are very clearly distinguished in their scope and actual effect. Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer concrete persecution, with sometimes fatal results. Jewish dissenters have been maligned and intimidated, but so far, have suffered much more limited material consequences.
In fact, these two crackdowns appear to serve different ends. Moves against Palestinian citizens are aimed at keeping them down and maintaining Jewish privilege. Palestinians are seen as a significant threat which needs to be contained, and treated as such. Jewish dissenters, on the other hand, are mainly targeted as a way of grandstanding for the right-wing public, with the marginal benefit of causing distress and sowing fear among them....Read More