Wednesday Weekly Round-up of Israeli Racism: Vol. 2


Every week, this blog tries to chronicle the most egregious acts of racism committed by Israel. You can find a longer explanation of the purpose of this exercise here. As this list will, unfortunately  be far from exhaustive, feel free to add additional stories of relevance and importance in the comments below.

This is the first full week of the Weekly Racism Roundup and I’m beginning to think that this project could prove even more horrifying than I thought it would be when I embarked upon it. I’ve tried to filter out the numerous profiles of incoming Israeli government officials, in favor of focusing on more recent events. This edition chronicles 13 of the worst incidents of racism against migrants, asylum seekers, and Palestinians that occurred over the past seven days.

Before starting, though, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, just released a new database chronicling some 60 Israeli laws which discriminate against Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel (i.e. Palestinians living within the pre-1967 borders). This is a great resource, so bookmark it for your future Facebook fights! Now, on to the news:

  • Electronic Intifada reveals that Israel has been coercing migrants and asylum seekers into signing “voluntary” repatriation documents. Of course, Israel has a long history of violently suppressing refugee rights by falsely claiming voluntarily emigrated.
  • The Israeli Supreme Court this week ruled that migrant caregivers are not entitle to overtime pay. The Hotline for Migrant Workers has characterized the decision as promoting a form of “modern day slavery” that is now common for migrant workers in Israel.
  • Meanwhile, about 100 residents of South Tel Aviv took part in a racist march last Wednesday night to protest the presence of African migrants and asylum seekers. Activestills.org photographer Oren Ziv captured the following image from the protests:

    An Eritrean women hides inside an internet cafe owned by refugees, as police stands guard outside the place, after Israeli protesters try to brake in during a protest against African refugees in South Tel Aviv, March 13, 2013. The protest was held after earlier that day, an African refugee broke into a house in South Tel Aviv, stole a phone and stabbed an Israeli woman. (Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

  • Ha’aretz (Heberew) writes about the growing racism among young Jewish Israelis. They also do a good job connecting these individuals racist statements to an education system and political environment which does nothing to discourage (I would even say, encourage, but now I’m editorializing) such acts. Here are some choice quotes from the article, for those of you who don’t read Hebrew, though I should add that far scarier than the quotes is the growing sentiment reported in this article and elsewhere that it is improper, impractical, or just unwise to speak up against such statements :

    — “I am a proud racist.” High school boy at the mall before a soccer game

    — “An Arab is better than a Leftist. The worst are those people who protect the people trying to kill you.” His friend

    — “I do not want to see Arabs anywhere. Not in the street, not in the mall, and not on the light rail.” Another high school senior

    –“I’m afraid. Issues like human rights, free expression, majority-minority relations are seen as leftist and [when you bring them up] the discussion quickly turns to being about what your own political positions are.” High school teacher.

    — “Last year, while preparing for a trip to Poland, a student said that ‘we need to have a Holocaust of Arabs”

  • Lest one thinks such statements are confined to the younger generation, Ali Abuminah chronicles some vile reactions on Facebook to the deaths of 17 Palestinians in a bus crash near the Allenby / King Hussein Bridge upon returning from pilgrimage.
  • This results of these attitudes are plainly evident in the results of an investigation by Electronic Intifada which revealed that, one week prior to shooting a Palestinian in the head under suspicious circumstances, an Israeli border policeman had posted about his desires to slay Arabs on his Facebook page. This was one of many such statements the officer had made. It looks like the soldier got to fulfill his racist fantasies with, thus far, complete impunity. 
  • In a classic example of tokenizing, an Israeli hasbara (propaganda) mission has been referring to its two Druze members as its “secret weapons.”
  • In a move continuing Israel’s march towards fascism, former and future Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called upon Haifa University to fire Dr. Yousef Jabarin for daring to speak his mind at an Israeli Apartheid Week event in Nazareth. Lieberman was particularly incensed that the speaker in question is a Palestinian Citizen of Israel. Apparently the rights of free speech are contingent upon your race and political beliefs.
  • Israel also inaugurated a new government this past week. Included in the pact between Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu and leading proponent of formalizing Israel’s apartheid system in the West Bank,  Naftali Bennett, is an agreement to bring to a vote a bill that would promote Jewish-only settlement, leaving out any comparable state resources for the 25% of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish. Past versions of the bill have also included provisions for removing Arabic as an official state language.
  • Bogus charges of anti-Semitism against Palestinian solidarity activists at Harvard University inspired racists to come out of the woodwork on both sides of the Atlantic. Orit Afra, blogger for The Jewish Journal, called upon Harvard’s Jewish students to respond by harassing Muslims. You read that right. She didn’t even call for harassing Palestinian solidarity activists; she called for targeting Muslims. Talk about a shande for the goyim.
  • Settler-colonists from Itamar attacked two Palestinian farmers who were cultivating their lands on Thursday and then turned around and did the exact same thing on Friday. Itamar is a settlement-colony with a particularly long rap sheet of carrying out violent acts against Palestinians with complete impunity
  • Settler-colonists from Elazar stole lands from the town of Khader, near Bethlehem. Despite the actions being illegal even under Israeli law, there will be no consequences for the action, even if Israeli security forces do get around to evicting them, which is always an open question.
  • And if you want to know how these settler-colonists get away with blatantly illegal action, Yesh Din chronicles the way the state successfully stonewalled a Palestinian family who sought police aid after being violently attacked by settler-colonists from Ariel.
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