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Rascism Sans Masks

 Yael Ben Yefet* The fight against prejudice and racism is a harsh one, not only because dark-minded people with many years of racist tradition behind them often head important entities, but it is also a not-so-simple cultural struggle.

first Published  : 22/02/2012   Last Updated: 26/02/2012 

   

Yesterday, a demonstration was held by the Arab residents of Jaffa against the selection preventing them from being admitted to special schools in the city.  These schools (Nature, Art and Gordon), which can easily compete with the selectors of Beit Yaacov in Emanuelthose in Galina, have always been tainted by barefaced inequality.

 

The fact that one of the Arab mothers was able to hear the racist sentiment "straight from the horses mouth" is a kind of catharsis in my opinion.  It is better to hear the racism with no concealment and in your face - then you can fight it.  When a school principal declares that places have been set aside for children from the south of the city and she is prepared to make a deliberate effort for the Arab kindergartens in Jaffa so that they can apply for candidacy, you had better not raise your hopes too high.  Even if these actions are performed - the percentage of Arab residents of Jaffa who will succeed in passing through the well-greased system of selections in private, non-religious schools will not significantly change, and it is not necessarily because of the children.

 

For instance:  The Tel Aviv Municipality places a percentage of residents from the south of the city in those schools as a kind of affirmative action for the weaker residents within the school, the majority of whom come from the south of the city.

 

The harsh fact is that the majority of the southern residents who succeed in entering are not those for whom the action is intended.  As expected, the new southerners, the gentrifiers, the new residents of the southern neighborhoods, enjoy benefits that were not designed for them.  Thus, the school succeeds in maintaining its desired homogeneity.  The veneer of being a private special school, but one that is egalitarian and takes affirmative action for the weaker sectors, does not really exist.  The percentage of southerners directed to lower-grade,even disreputable, schools is more significant and is worth examining.

 

The State of Israel cultivates ignorance - said the Mayor, referring to the core program of the Ultra-Orthodox schools.   It is said that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  The statement by the Mayor is cynical in the best instance.  The Municipality of Tel Aviv willingly cultivates ignorance for whole populations.  The 12th floor has no problem with there being a whole system of vocational schools, and of course elementary schools, whose connection with education is absolutely incidental.  The municipal response to the miserable academic results in those schools is that it emanates from the home.  When it is believed that the home is low-level and not worth investing in, then to be a mechanic from age 13 appears to be something positive, so long as it is not your own child.

 

The struggle against prejudice and racism is a harsh one, not only because dark-minded people with many years of racist tradition behind them often head important entities, but it is also a not-so-simple cultural struggle.  MK Michael Ben-Ari submitted a draft bill containing an amendment to an existing law expanding the definition of racism.  He called the draft law "Gazit-Huldai", following the serious statements by these two gentlemen mainly against the Ultra-Orthodox public.  The expansion is that racism will also be considered on religious and community grounds.  The unbridled attack against the Ultra-Orthodox, as well as against orientals, deserves to be defined as what it is - racism, and even anti-Semitism.

 

The statement by Gabi Gazit headed "Absolutely Right" was sent to me as an e-mail chain letter.  When I read his words I was shocked by the thought that there are some people who are able to empathize with such racist statements, and also that they have my e-mail address.  There is no room for understanding here, and such a person, in a normal country, would resign his position.   Ben-Aris proposal is welcome, at least for the serious discussion that it should initiate.  The incitement that has been spreading throughout the entertainment programs for years, incitement that reproduces itself in the selections conducted at the entrance to schools, universities, places of work and clubs, not only places of entertainment, is intolerable and must be stopped.

 

Telling jokes is not forbidden, but they should be diversified.  An attempt should be made to rise above the lowest humor and to challenge Israeli reality.  A type of joke that is not seen in popular culture is satire, for instance - about an imaginary mayor of a rich city whose ideology is that his city is for the rich alone, who defines himself as a socialist, criticizes the Ultra-Orthodox who do not study Bialik but succeeds in turning a blind eye to the serious school-placing systems experienced by the poorer residents of the city.  If it were not so sad one might even laugh.