Hardened Racism in Israel
By Stephen Lendman
Israeli racism already is institutionalized. On February 24, it got meaner. Fascist Knesset members approved legislation distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arab citizens.
At issue is separate and less equal than before. It's divide and conquer policy. Critics slammed the law. They did so justifiably.
It institutes what at first glance seems minor. It changes the number of public advisory council members appointed under the 1988 Equal Employment Opportunities Law.
Five members increase to 10. Currently Christians, Muslims, Druze and Circassian representatives are included.
New legislation gives Muslim and Christian Arab citizens separate representation. New ones are added for ultra-Orthodox Jews, reserve duty soldiers, women, immigrants (virtually all Jews) and the elderly.
PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said:
"This law aims to create a new reality among our people based on religion and not national identity."
Hardline Likudnik sponsor Yariv Levin is unapologetically racist. "We and the Christians have a lot in common," he said.
"They're our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within."
Racist legislation passed overwhelmingly. Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner Tziona Koenig-Yair opposed it.
She does so "in the same way (she) wouldn't be interested in separate representation for Lithuanian Haredim and (Sephardi) Haredim," she said.
"Furthermore, there are no groups promoting employment for different sectors in the Arab population per se, only for the Arab population as a whole."
The law came up for debate weeks earlier. Heated committee discussion followed.
On February 24, Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman Haim Katz introduced the law in the plenum. He lied saying:
"The aim is to look after populations that have a hard time in the labor market and to give them a representation on the advisory committee."
Israel's Knesset is its most hardline in history. Racist fascist dominate it. Opposition members are few.
They're way outnumbered. They have no power. The few Arab MKs have no say whatever. They're little more than potted plants.
They're shouted down when expressing justifiable criticism of unfair legislation. Some Knesset hardliners want them banned altogether.
Perhaps they'll try excluding all MKs opposing their views. Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On is one.
She opposes racist legislation. "Perhaps we should also divide the Jewish population into Poles, Yemenites and Moroccans," she said.
"We are essentially in a situation where an effort is being made to try to define the state according to religions."
"Here they are trying to say that there's a difference between Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs."
Balad party chairman Jamal Zahalka criticized Levin. "Arab rights don't interest him," he said.
"There's no specific Christian or Druze employment problem, only (one for) the general Arab population."
"Levin is interested in cruelly dividing the Arab public, which is oppressed as is. We will not be his lackeys."
Levin is overtly racist. Weeks earlier, he said:
"My legislation will provide separate representation and separate attention to the Christian public, separate from the Muslim Arabs."
"This is a historic and important move that could help balance the State of Israel, and connect us and the Christians, and I'm being careful about not calling them Arabs because they aren't Arabs."
"Christians can be directors of government companies. They will get separate representation in the local authorities. They will get equal employment opportunities."
"The first law I will pass will give Christians representation on the advisory council of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."
"We and the Christians have a lot in common." He wants Jews allied with them against Muslims.
"On the other hand," he said, "there's a message here. We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who are liable to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state."
Nominally, the law aims to increase employment opportunities among Israeli minorities. Implementing it will do nothing of the sort.
It'll do much more harm than good. It's marginalize Muslim citizens more than already.
Levin said similar bills will follow this one. They'll benefit Christian Arabs at the expense of Muslim majority ones. They'll harden Israeli racism more than already.
Reserve Lt. Shadi Halul heads the Christian IDF Officers Forum. He was present during weeks earlier debate. He disgracefully called Arab MKs "racists."
"I'm proud to be Christian," he said. "We have a right to self-definition as well. We are entitled to recognition."
"We are supporting this bill. It makes justice for Christian needs and solves discrimination against them with the Arab community that the state has falsely put them for 65 years."
"Christians have their own historical identity and heritage with a destiny different from Arabs and Muslims."
"If something happened to our beloved country Israel, we as Christians will have a harmful destiny, as we see now in Syria, with massacres, rape, church destruction, like what happened in Lebanon and Iraq before."
"We deserve the right to self-representation and identity with legal Christian representatives that understand our needs, to stop discrimination."
Over 160,000 Christians are Israeli citizens. Nearly 80% are Arabs. Others largely emigrated from former Soviet states. Most live in majority Muslim towns and villages.
Israeli Christian Arabs increasingly called for recognizing their separate identity. Last July, some formed the Sons of the New Testament political party.
It encourages IDF enlistment. It wants full integration into Israeli society. Around 1.6 million Muslim citizens deserve no less.
All Israeli citizens deserve equal rights. Favoring some over others is discriminatory. Israel favors Jews alone. Arab rights are consistently denied.
Levin's bill delivers another body blow. If he follows through with more racist legislation, Muslim citizens will experience greater hardships.
Racist laws pass for that purpose. They punish unwanted Arabs. They represent back door ethnic cleansing. They want Muslims discouraged enough to leave.
On February 26, Haaretz editors headlined "Israel's distinguishing between Christian and Muslim Arabs is racism," saying:
Levin's "bill threatens to erode even further the concept of citizenship in Israel." Its nominal purpose belies its real one.
Levin wants Christian Arabs benefitting at the expense of Muslim ones. According to Haaretz editors:
"The widespread support for the bill in the Knesset shows that crazy ideas like these aren't the province of an extremist, borderline-loony MK.
"They're part of the national consensus." It reveals Israel's true character. It does so more than ever.
It's no fit place to live in. For Arabs, it's dangerous. Palestinians are ruthlessly persecuted.
Muslim citizens are considered fifth column threats. Israel wants them gone. Granting fewer rights it hopes will encourage growing numbers to leave.
Levin's bill distinguishes between good (Christian) and bad (Muslim) Arabs. Racists think this way.
Doing so does "great injustice to members of both religions," said Haaretz editors. "(A)s minorities, (they're) not treated properly by the state."
Defining citizenship by "religion, color or gender," defiles it altogether. Doing so "pushes Israel into the ranks of the darkest states."
What if racist MKs distinguished between good and bad Jews.
Haaretz editors urged Knesset members to reverse what no legitimate state should tolerate. Racist legislation "does not reflect love of one's country," they said.
It more than ever reveals Israel's true face. With or without this legislation, its dark side is plain to see.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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