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The Coalition Against Racism in Israel 2010 Racism Report

first Published  : 12/08/2011   Last Updated: 12/08/2011 

   

Main Findings

45 Arab citizens in Israel victims of racist killings in the last decade

The police authorities continue to treat Arab citizens of Israel as enemies, not only failing to ensure their protection, but they also taking part in attacks against the Arab community.

In the last decade, 45 Arab citizens of Israel were victims of racist killings – 35 of which were shot dead by police officerssecurity forces. The families of the victims now stand before the courts and witness the tolerance of the legal system over the murderers of their loved ones. Within a democratic State, the rights of the minority are supposed to be protected. However, the Arab minority in Israel is constantly under attack, persecuted by the very institutions in charge of their protection.

Last year witnessed a possible precedent-setting ruling in the case against Shahar Mizrahi, a police officer convicted for the murder of Mahmoud Ghanayem. While the court only sentenced Mizrahi to 15 months in prison, a light punishment for charges of manslaughter, it remains an almost unprecedented punishment in the case of the unlawful killing of an Arab citizen. However, despite the conviction pronounced by the court, and in violation of the law, the chief of police refused to suspend Mizrahi from his duties.

15 Attacks of Arab citizens of Israel by security forces

The past year saw a significant increase of the number of attacks of civilians by security forces. The policy of zero tolerance for protests resulted in the oppression and harassment of innocent civilians in the streets, the multiplying of false arrest and the use of excessive force.

This fact does not come as a surprise given that the current Knesset leaves no room for doubt concerning its position on Arab citizens and that the police and security forces merely follow in their leadership’s footsteps. Worst, the legal system is aligning with this position, and no punitive measures are being taken to deter such actions.

Cases documented in the report describe this reality and highlight the danger of using an official body, in charge of public security, to attack citizens. These cases are only a sample, as more cases occur every day, and do not take into account incidents that occurred in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

91 racist incidents on Arab citizens by Jewish citizens

In 2007 and 2008, the number of racist incidents against Arab citizens by Jewish citizens has increased by over four times. Incitement messages are conveyed to the general public, both in the education system and through the media, as well as by political and religious leaders, who sometimes go as far as openly encouraging physical violence against the Arab community. The tolerance of the courts in cases of unlawful killings of Arab citizens by Israeli Jews paves the way for an increase of racist attacks in the future.

19 events harming the legitimacy of Arab political leaders

The rhetoric used when addressing the relationship between the majority and the minority, is that of “loyalty” versus “enemies”. Arab MKs face constant accusations from other MKs, as well as continuous investigations and sometimes indictments, which prevent them from working efficiently. 

Every time the Arab community tries to organize itself to face this issue of the persecution of Arab political and civil society leaders by the authorities (through the creation of student organizations, politicalsocial associations…) they encounter difficulties with these same authorities (unnecessary investigations, delay in registration…).

26 incidents of racial incitement

What is considered “incitement” when spoken by an Arab political leader becomes “freedom of expression” when the speaker is Jewish. And while in extreme cases, official apologies from the Jewish MK will suffice to avoid prosecution, they often do not contradict the message conveyed to the public and the absence of prosecution has no prohibitive effect. In practice, the coalition has witnessed a deliberate and systematic campaign of incitement. Indeed, it seems that rather than taking their responsibilities as elected representatives and working towards strengthening the Israeli society, many public officials try to seduce the voting public by worsening the situation and using the tensions and fears between the communities, thus completely ignoring the rules of democracy and the principles of good governance.

While the number of incidents of racial incitement per se (public speeches by political leaders for example) has slightly decreased, the number of books, magazines and publications in general with an openly racist content have significantly increased, and what used to be incidents of racial incitement has now become a mainstream position in the society.

In the 1980s, the medias did not give Meir Kahane, founder of the since banned racist party Kach, a tribuneany opportunity to verbally attack the Arab community. However, today, the media have somehow become an instrument in the hands of racist leaders, who use it to attack not only the Arab community, but also Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations.

21 racist bills targeting the Arab minority

The 18th Knesset saw the election of officials who have, in the past, openly used anti-Arab rhetoric and who now incite against the Arab citizens of Israel, using the “demographic threat” and security fears to promote discriminatory legislation and incite to racial violence.

Last year, there was a 75% increase in the submission of discriminatory racist bills. Most of these legislative proposals sought to weaken the status of Arab citizens and to reduce their rights, thus posing a constant threat to the legitimacy of their citizenship.

65 incidents of racist attacks on football fields

This part of the report relies on documentation and data collected by the New Israeli Fund in cooperation with the Israeli Football Union.

There are was a 66% increase in the number of racist incidents on football fields during the last year, which can primarily be explained by the lack of punishment of the offenders.  The fact for a football club such as Beitar Jerusalem to openly declare that it did not hire any Arab players and got away without sanctions legitimates racism on the football fields. Data shows that these statements are warning signs and lead to actual cases of racist aggressions. On the contrary, we learn from past experiences that with proper sanctions against hate speech, there is a significant decrease in incidents of racist attacks.

27 cases of ethnic discrimination against Sephardic Jews, Russian immigrants and Ethiopians

Incidents of ethnic discrimination increased by 92% compared to 2008. Racism has no color and no borders. Racism is not innate; it is acquired. Political and religious leaders, who are seen by people as moral leaders, use their power over the general public, not too improve the situation, but to worsen it, using the voting public’s fears to their own profits.

11 cases of racism against refugees and migrant workers

Refugees and migrant workers are the most vulnerable groups of the Israeli society. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior and other elected officials describe the refugees seeking asylum in Israel as carrying diseases threatening the existence of the Jewish people in Israel. The report revealed that MK Yaakov Katz, chairman of the Knesset Committee in charge of refugees and migrants issues, hid the findings of a research conducted by the Research and Information Center of the Knesset, which shows that the number of refugees and migrants workers in Israel is actually significantly lower than the one political leaders have been telling the general public.

The immigration authorities have a very aggressive attitude towards migrant workers and organize mass deportations. Councils and municipalities have openly expressed their opposition to letting refugees live in their constituencies.

The current government deliberately puts refugees and migrant workers in this position, as it has sufficient means of protecting their rights. Refugees and migrant workers are in daily danger of deportation and are constantly exposed to violence from their employers and governmental authorities.

 9 events of verbal attacks of other religions by Jewish religious leaders

In recent years there has been a drastic increase in the use of right-wing fundamentalist religious discourse to promote racism. Judaism, which gives a central role to human morality, has become a tool for hatred in the hands of extremists, who use it to incite to hatred and encourage public harm to non-Jews in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

One of many examples is a book “Toraht Hamelekh”, written by two Rabbis, Yitzhak Shapira and Joseph Elitzur. The book is saturated with serious racist statements inciting to violence against Arabs and other minorities. These statements, which are based on alleged Jewish laws and traditions, are reinforced by the support this school of thought received from four Rabbis, namely Yitzhak Ginsburg, Jacob Joseph, Zalman Nehemia Goldberg and Dov Lior. The most problematic content in the book is the one arguing explicitly that a Jew’s life is more precious than the life of a non-Jew, thus justifying the killing of innocent people.

There unfortunately is not enough law enforcement against these religious extremists who incite and encourage discrimination against Arabs and other minorities. In many cases, an apology will terminate any legal proceedings and enable the continued incitement, almost unimpeded. The effects of this tolerance towards religious hate speech were reflected in particular among the youth. A survey conducted by the University of Tel Aviv on whether to give the Arab citizens of Israel the same rights as Israeli Jews, showed that 49.5% of Jewish youth responded negatively. The survey showed a clear connection between religiousness and the position on the rights of the Arab minority. Indeed, the rate of religious youth responding negatively (82%) was twice as high as that of secular youth (39%).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

Comparing data from

2008

2009

2010

Arab citizens victims of racist killings since October 2000

41

42

45

Attacks of Arab citizens by security forces

6

17

15

Expressions of racism against Arab citizens by Jewish citizens

16

70

91

Events harming the legitimacy of Arab political leaders

27

23

19

Incidents of public racial incitement

27

29

26

Racist and discriminatory bills introduced

11

12

21

Incidents of racism on soccer fields

 

39

65

Cases of ethnic discrimination against Sephardic Jews, Russian immigrants and Ethiopians

14

14

27

Cases of racism and refugees and migrant workers

 

10

11

Verbal attacks by Jewish religious leaders on other religions

8

9

9

Total

109

224

286

 


Summary

The current Israeli government reinforces the divisions between the different groups of the society through its tolerance and encouragement of racism. The national strength depends first and foremost on a strong, cohesive civil society. And the denial of full and equal citizenship, as well as the government’s continuous harassment and aggression of the civil society, harm the very democratic nature of the State of Israel.

The absence of a stable rule of law and the weakness of law enforcement against racist speech have worsened racist attacks in the past year, making them not only more visible, but mainstream ideas.

If we consider for example the issue of denial of entrance to clubs, which affect mostly Arabs, Ethiopians and Russian citizens, there seem to be a decline in the number of cases brought before the courts. However, this can be interpreted in two ways: either the lawsuits filed by the victims of racism have deterred the clubs from applying this racist policy, which would prove that law enforcement against racist attacks helps reduce the phenomenon;it means that the targeted population have become used to their constant rejection from entertainment places and do not even try to enter them anymore. As we witness the continued ethnic selection in allowing club entrance, we can only assume that the reason for the decrease in these events lies in the fact that the targeted groups now understood that they are not welcomed in certain spaces, and refrain from even trying to enter these anymore.

Although the legitimacy of racism, now part of the daily lives of people in Israel, make it difficult to deal with efficiently, it does not discourage the coalition from its mission to eradicate all forms of racism in Israel.

We call upon all who feel concerned, to wake up and take the necessary steps. We cannot let opinion makers - Ministers, Knesset members and other elected officials - use the stage to worsen the situation. We cannot let them occupy their functions without taking their responsibilities. Racism endangers the public peace and the entire Democracy.