- Mossawa means equality, the Mossawa Advocacy Center promoting
it for Israel's Arab citizens - about 1.5 million, comprising 20% of the
population. Established in 1997, it "strives to improve the social,
economic and political status of (Israeli Arabs), while preserving their
national and cultural rights as Palestinians." It also promotes gender
equality "in all spheres of society."
- Its September 29, 2009 press release headlined the "High
Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens (an organization representing Israeli
Arabs) call for a general" October 1 one-day work stoppage to protest
deteriorating conditions they face, and Israel's failure "to bring
justice to the families of the 13 Arab victims that were killed by security
forces during the events of October 2000," the start of the second
- The Committee asked all Arab institutions, organizations
and businesses to honor it in opposition to Triangle and Negev area home
demolitions; Galilee and Triangle area settlement building; discrimination
in allocating resources; police violence, intimidation, racial, and political
incitement; and the right of Arab citizens "to exist and live in dignity
in their historic homeland."
- Mossawa Center Calls the Current Knesset the Most Racist
- A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article
headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa's report shows "that
in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist,"
followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report
authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:
- "There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing
discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens."
- They accused right-wing MKs of being "unhindered
via proposed legislation," many in violation of Supreme Court rulings,
including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others
trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and "even
call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population."
- Further discriminatory measures target services, benefits,
and imposing a year's imprisonment for anyone publishing or saying something
that would "bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country."
- Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wants road signs
traditionally in Hebrew, Arabic and English changed solely to Hebrew to
erase their historic identity. But doing so violates the Supreme Court's
recognition of Arabic as an official Israeli language.
- Other measures target those who can buy land and the
so-called Nakba law, watered down from its original version to exclude
imprisonment, but including a provision to withhold public funding for
any state-supported body holding Nakba commemorations. Arab school curricula
exclude its mention, and outright banning it denies Israeli Arabs their
collective identity, memory, and right to freely express opinions, especially
about something this important.
- The Incitement Law threatens prison for anyone denying
Israel's existence as a Jewish, democratic state, and the proposed Loyalty
to Israel Law rescinds citizenship for anyone unwilling to pledge it. Still
another measure bans demonstrations near public officials and service provider
homes as well as others responsible for public welfare. It's one step short
of prohibiting all demonstrations critical of government policies.
- The Prevention of Inflation Law includes provisions denying
protections and care for asylum seekers, and long prison terms for convicted
"infiltrators" and human rights activists helping them. Other
measures affect free expression, housing, political involvement, and Bedouin
rights in so-called unrecognized villages, the home for tens of thousands
living under appalling conditions, compounded by involuntary dispossessions
to Judaize the Negev and Galilee.
- Mossawa Center's 2009 Racism Report
- It began saying "almost every day" another
Israeli Arab is victimized by racist actions. Mossawa documented 271 cases
in various categories, confirmed by media and police reports. "Most
documentation refers to events," not individuals, but their total
number far exceeds the events mentioned.
- Mossawa was alarmed that Occupied Territory (OPT) abuses
have incrementally crossed the Green Line. Since the second Intifada's
onset (after Ariel Sharon's provocative September 28 Al-Aqsa Mosque visit),
few Israeli - Arab citizen confrontations occurred until Acre, Galilee's
October 2008 violence. Incidents now "create separation between communities
that used to" coexist peacefully. As a result, Israeli Arab citizens
face disruptive social, economic and cultural futures.
- Besides Acre, organized groups attacked Arab civilians
in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Nazareth Illit, Carmiel and other cities - suggesting
more to come unless measures are taken to curb it.
- Specific Mossawa Findings
- From 2000 through 2008, 42 Arab Israelis were killed.
Only once was a police officer indicted and convicted, sentenced only to
six months in prison for murder. Another accused officer still serves,
"receiving support" from his commander.
- Since trials of two officers began in 2006, judges have
delayed ruling, six months after proceedings ended. As a result, 13 families
of initial Intifada killings await justice despite clear Or Commission
recommendations (established to investigate them) not implemented by the
- Two Jews who killed Arabs were admitted to mental hospitals
and declared unfit to stand trial. Four years after Natan Zadah killed
four Arabs, investigations continue. After his death, 15 Shefaram residents
were arrested on suspicion of their involvement. Four East Jerusalem Palestinians
were killed after being repeatedly shot "even after they were clearly
paralyzed." No investigation was conducted.
- Police attacked and injured 17 Israeli Arabs, a 300%
increase since 2008. During the Gaza war, police intensified violence and
arrested 700 Arab citizens. Yet a small number of them were indicted.
- Jewish civilians were involved in most racist incidents
(about 70), up tenfold from the previous year. Most targeted Arabs and
involved attacks and property destruction. The October 2008 Acre incidents
resulted in over 80 people evacuated from their homes, most after being
"repeatedly injured." Despite making arrests, police "failed
to prevent massive confrontations" and didn't arrest youths involved
in Acre and Carmiel attacks.
- Knesset members, other public figures, and rabbis were
involved in 29 racist incidents, especially during the Gaza war, and in
the run-up to elections through mass media reports. The Central Elections
Committee (CEC) took no action.
- The New Israel Fund and Football Union reported 39 racist
incidents during contests, not against Arabs but dark skinned targets -
compared to 32 recorded 2008 cases. Another 15 incidents of "racial
profiling and discrimination in services" were reported, showing a
drop because courts now fine business discrimination on the basis of race.
- The Supreme Court, however, hasn't addressed airport
- Ten cases of religious discrimination were reported,
included cemetery destruction and holy book burnings.
- The 2008 Knesset introduced 12 discriminatory bills,
and the Supreme Court failed to disqualify the 2003 temporary Citizenship
and Entry into Israel Law, renewed every six months. It makes West Bank
and Gaza Palestinians ineligible for residency permits if they marry an
Israeli citizen, a measure harmful to thousands of families yearly.
- Israeli Arab leaders have been systematically delegitimized.
"Israeli political leaders, the government, the police and government
legal advisors use the demographic threat to force their political positions
on Arab minority leaders," including prohibiting their visits to regional
states that don't diplomatically recognize Israel. Also forcing them to
accept Israel as a Jewish state to qualify as MKs, or in other words, renounce
their own heritage.
- Arab leaders violating these terms are investigated to
persecute and delegitimize them. During the Gaza war, police and security
services made numerous arrests as a warning to local Arab leaders. In addition,
for the third time since the early 1990s, the Central Elections Committee
(CEC) disqualified two Arab political parties from participating in national
elections. Though the Supreme Court overruled the decision, the Arab community
got a chilling message, suggesting harsher measures to come.
- Jews as well experienced racism, specifically Russian
and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays.
- Summary of Mossawa's 2008 and 2009 Racist Incidents
- -- police violence since October 2000 killing Arab Israelis:
in 2008, 41; in 2009, 42;
- -- other police violence against Arab Israelis: in 2008,
6; in 2009, 17;
- -- Jewish civilian attacks against Arab Israelis: in
2008, 7; in 2009, 70;
- -- racial incitement: in 2008, 27; in 2009, 29;
- -- religious discrimination: in 2008, 8; in 2009, 10;
- -- discrimination in public services: in 2008, 26; in
- -- football related racism: in 2008, 32; in 2009, 39
- -- delegitimizations of Israeli Arab political leaders:
in 2008, 15; in 2009, 23;
- -- racist Knesset bills: in 2008, 12; in 2009, 12; and
- -- discrimination against Russian and Ethiopian immigrants
as well as gays: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 14.
- Totals: in 2008, 180; in 2009, 271.
- Mossawa was alarmed that Israeli Arabs are increasingly
being persecuted like Occupied Palestinians - perhaps one step short of
facing targeted killings, much greater dispossession rates, mass incarcerations,
and torture. They're already denied rights afforded solely to Jews.
- Civilized societies accept all citizens as equals, or
are supposed to. Israel rejects that standard, including for disfavored
Jews, shunned for more privileged ones the way America treats minorities,
the poor, disadvantaged, undocumented Latino immigrants called illegal,
and Muslims persecuted as terrorists.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.