Wednesday Weekly Round-up of Israeli Racism: Vol. 3

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 week, I received a stark reminder of the limitations of this series. I started this feature to chronicle the constant and pervasive racism in Israel today. Of course, I can only report on the things which make it into the news. A manager at a store I frequent in Jerusalem was verbally accosted and pushed by someone this week, simply for being Palestinian. He didn’t report it, not wanting to make a big deal of the situation (and out of respect for his decision, I am not going to describe any more detail of what was said to me). Incidents like this happen all too frequently and will never make the news. They are just a part of everyday life in Jerusalem.

With that caveat in mind, here are 12 of the worst examples of racism in Israel, all from this past week.

  • Last week, we highlighted a Hebrew language report about Israeli school teachers’ feeling that not only are their students increasingly overtly racist, but that their capacity to legitimately challenge such racism in the classroom is diminishing. Haaretz translated the story over the weekend and it is well worth a read.
  • To celebrate Passover, when Jews celebrate the ancient Israelites finally being free to move to move across arbitrary borders that an oppressive sovereign would not let them cross, Israel imposed a general closure on the West Bank.
  • The Wadi Hilweh Information center reports on two similar attacks by Jewish settler-colonists against Palestinian residents of Silwan. First, two women were violently attacked while walking through a Jewish area of the Old City of Jerusalem by a male assailant, who chased the women, pulled at one of women’s hijab, choking her in the process.
  • Second, a 14-year old settler-colonist attacked two other children, ages 12 and 14, on their way to school. The police arrested the Palestinian children, as their word is inherently less valued than a Jewish settler-colonists whenever conflicting versions of events appear.
  • Rabbea Eid, the Palestinian Citizen of Israel who interrupted President Obama’s speech last week, explained his motivations to the NYTimes’s Lede blog:

I was listening to the speech of Obama and he said a lot of things that made me upset so I just stood up and shouted. He was talking about democracy and justice and at the same time he said he supports Israel as a Jewish country. So, from my perspective and that of a lot of people, Arab people, Palestinians who were in the building listening to the speech … the Arabs, the minority in Israel are also against a Jewish country because it’s not a democratic country. It’s against us, so how can Mr. Obama be democratic and in the same time support an ethnic country?

  • Also during the President’s visit, Palestinian students in Hebron donned masks of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, engaging in a nonviolent protest against the racial segregation of Shuhada Street. The Israeli army responded by arresting 8-year olds and local settler-colonists organized a violent counter mob. Shades of Selma.
  • All of these incidents fit very nicely into the settler-colonist Yesha Council’s plans to Judaize the West Bank, as profiled by 972mag.
  • In a textbook example of collective punishment, Israel responded to the firing of several rockets by the  reducing the fishing zone around Gaza from 6 to 3 kilometers. To add an element of irony to this tragic narrative, the rockets were fired by Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin, a group that Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction has strong tensions with. Hamas arrested two connected with the firings, pretty much meeting Israel’s demands. Despite this, the additional collective punishment measures against all Palestinians remain in place.
  • Al-Monitor captures this incredible photo of Emad al-Malalha smuggling his bride into Gaza from Egypt, using one of the tunnels beneath the border. Ynet has some more background here. As this photo indicates, the same tunnels which smuggle arms to militant groups are also used to smuggle all sorts of other things, including food, medicine, and even people. All the inevitable results of a stifling siege imposed by Israel and aided by Egypt.
  • The (cringe inducingly named) Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality issued a report this past week, noting the systematic failure of Israel to provide government services to Bedouin communities. This neglect is especially stark when compared to government services rovided to the surrounding Jewish communities.
  • Lest anyone think discrimination in Israel only affects non-Jews, Haaretz reports that out of 5000 boards of directors registered within the country there is not a single Ethiopian Jew.
  • Newly inaugurated head of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee Miri Regev, who has perviously said that she is “happy to be a fascist” and called African asylum seekers “a cancer on the nation’s body,” continues her unbroken streak of disgusting comments. This week, she talks about how her new job is to kick out all African migrants (Heb).
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