A report by the Centre for Equality and Coalition Against Racism has confirmed a 28% rise over the past year in incidents of racism against Palestinians in Israel who constitute 20% of its population.
The centre monitored 286 racist incidents against Palestinians by Israelis, pointing out that 21 draft racist laws were proposed since the election of the current parliament. The data also revealed that racism is now endemic in the Jewish religious establishment, pointing to high levels of incitement carried out by rabbis against Palestinian Arabs.
The report said that the police continue to deal with Arab citizens as enemies, and instead of protecting them, neglect them. As a result, “Arab citizens’ confidence in the body that is supposed to protect them is lost.”
Human rights activists and researchers in the field of anti-racism note that: “racism has become legitimate in the Israeli street and is part of the general atmosphere and the lives of its victims.” They stress, however, that it does not mean that Palestinians living in lands occupied in 1948 should give in to the status quo, but they should step up their opposition and organize their struggle against racism.
Arab MP in the Knesset, Dr. Afou Ighbaria, President of the parliamentary lobby against racism said: “the majority of the Israeli street is heading toward extremist forms of racism as a result of the campaigns of incitement led by the right-wing government through the legislation of the worst racist laws.”
He also affirmed that the parliamentarian lobby against racism which was recently established under his initiative will be the vehicle of opposition inside the Knesset, in collaboration with the anti-racism movement, which includes 19 Arab and Jewish institutions, as well as Islamic figures and human rights committees.
Meanwhile, Nidal Othman, a lawyer from the Centre for Equality, said: “the increasing incidence of racism in recent years has a direct relationship to rejection of internal peace in Israel and peace in the region generally.”
He added: “the continuation of the occupation policy in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, and blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as the continued expansion of settlements, are in themselves racist practices that blatantly and criminally violate human rights and the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Othman pointed out that recent years have witnessed a steady decline of the judiciary system in Israel resulting in proposals for laws that circumvent the decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice, and official institutions refraining from implementing court decisions, in addition to massive attacks on the judicial system by the media and politicians.
Another official, Baker Awawdeh, Director of the Centre Against Racism in Israel added: “It is not surprising that the phenomenon of racism is increasing in the Israeli streets, as long as there are Jewish MPs in the parliament who continue to describe the Arabs as a demographic bomb and a cancer within the state, and as long as textbooks continue to be swamped with hatred and prejudice against Arab citizens in order to restrict and force them to leave their land.”
Awawdeh recalled that Foreign Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has already urged the House to prosecute Arab MPs and execute them. He pointed out that the Israeli Judiciary system is dealing very softly with the racists who trample under their feet local and international laws that prohibit discrimination and incitement of racism.