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Israeli President warns of increasing racism against Arabs in Israel

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday criticised what he described as the increasing wave of racism and violence against Arab Israelis, warning that such acts influence democracy in Israel.

Rivlin hinted, during an address to the Israel Bar Association in Jerusalem, that the Israeli authorities turn a blind eye to racist slogans like death to the Arabs and blamed the Israeli leadership for its silence in the face of this phenomenon.

He said: "We we are fools to make such irresponsible statements or to remain silent before them", adding: "Hateful calls of 'Death to Arabs' were not spray-painted on neglected walls in the dead of night, but spoken loudly and clearly, in the light of day. The intensity and extent of the violent incidents surprised us, some of us felt, and still feel, that the volcano atop which Israeli society sits may erupt at any moment."

Rivlin warned that Israel's challenges are not limited to the security aspect but include "the wave of violence, hatred and racism. We talk about things all the time, but unfortunately we do not show a sufficient degree of responsibility before them."

He called on the Israeli public not to remain silent in front of the rampant manifestations of racism, saying the Israeli justice system must draw a red line before these acts and prohibit crossing it.

Rivlin began his tenure as president in July succeeding Shimon Peres, a right-wing hardliner in the ruling Likud Party.

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