In Israel, it is governmental racism

Just World Admin Blog, Israel, Racism

by Amos Gvirtz*

Israel’s extreme right-wing government has led to the normalization of racism and hypocrisy. The gap between the government’s internal racism and its war against anti-Semitic racism abroad is obvious. What kind of moral blindness needs to exist not to see this? What kind of hypocrisy needs to exist to enable a prime minister, who conducts a policy of discrimination, persecution and incitement against the Arab minority in his own country, to so easily protest against anti-Semitic behavior directed against Jews in other countries? There, it’s a case of popular racism and the governments always come out against it.

In Israel, on the other hand, the most serious forms of racist-nationalism are those of the government against the Arab minority. (The popular forms of this racist-nationalism are secondary and much less dangerous.) A few examples will illustrate this:

  • the discrimination against the Arab minority in the state budget;
  • legislation which allowed the confiscation of most of the land of Palestinian Israeli citizens and which prevents them from using lands designated as state lands;
  • the avoidance of the creation of master plans for Palestinian-Arab communities, which forces them to build their homes illegally and then suffer home demolitions;
  • the avoidance of recognition of the Bedouin villages, which creates a situation where the entire population of these villages has no choice but to build illegally.

In the last year alone, more than 2,300 Bedouin houses were demolished in the Negev. In this context the law was amended to allow the government to issue fines to the victims of its demolition policy and thus to effectively force most of them to demolish their homes themselves (to avoid the fines).  

During the current election campaign, the prime minister and other government ministers have brought incitement against the Arabs and their political parties to new heights. I’m certain that if any prime minister in the world dared to incite against the Jewish minority in his country in this way the Israeli prime minister, other ministers and the general population would protest against this vehemently. But in Israel, if some celebrity dares to criticize this incitement, she is publicly reproached by the prime minister and receives death threats.

Israel is engaged in an ongoing war against the nation of its Palestinian-Arab citizens. This causes a fundamental problem in the relations between the state and its Arab minority. Instead of looking for ways to mitigate these tensions, the prime minister and other ministers aggravate them further, in the hope of some political gain. 

Amos Gvirtz is a founder of Israelis and Palestinians for Non-Violence, and has helped to found and lead numerous Israeli human-rights organizations. His book Don’t Say We Didn’t Know is available on Amazon.

The photo at the top shows PM Netanyahu and Michael Ben-Ari, a former Kahanist activist who’s now a leader of the Otzma Yehudit party, with which Netanyahu is allied in the current election campaign.