The Coalition Against Racism in Israel is dedicated to the
goal of building an Israeli national movement against racism.
The level of racism in Israel is connected to the political
situation. The political atmosphere dictates the tone and rhythm of racism in
the country and the further right the government becomes, the more we witness
acts of racism. An extremist regime promotes both extremist actions and hate
crimes between the different communities.
For the past two years, we have been experiencing more
racism in this country. We at the Coalition Against Racism have created a way
to demonstrate the real level of racism in the country, meaning, to show how
bad things have gotten and to try to force the government to stop denying it.
According to a survey that we conducted in March 2016, the
majority of Israelis said that 1 out of 4 people had experienced racial
discrimination during the previous year. 72% believed that social media had
radicalized the discourse.
The survey also found that the Israeli public thought that
the majority of the racial discrimination happened against Arabs, asylum
seekers, and Ethiopians.
Seventy-nine percent of Israelis noted that there was racism
against Arabs, 77% claimed that there was racism against asylum seekers, and
75% said that there was racism against Ethiopians. Racism against Mizrahi Jews,
Russian speakers, and Ashkenazi Jews was also recorded, but in lower
numbers: 41%, 39%, and 20%, respectively.
We at the Coalition believe that institutionalized racism - expressed
in racially discriminatory behavior in government offices against citizens,
racially-based police brutality against Arab and Ethiopian citizens, and racist
incitement from politicians and Jewish religious leaders against Arabs -
inflames racism within the society. Of course, the last war in Gaza also brought
forth a lot of racism and mutual hate between Jewish and Arab citizens, widened
the gap between the two communities, and destroyed whatever little improvement
we had been able to achieve before that.
For the past year, however, and because of the work we have
done, two good things happened in Israel. The first was the establishment of the
"Palmor Committee" by the director of the Ministry of Justice,
along with the publication of the Palmor Report. This was a very important admission by an
official body regarding racism in the country and the need to address it,
including the need to implement the Report’s recommendations. Even though the Report
focused on the Ethiopian community, we must say that implementing its recommendations
will benefit all minority groups that face racial discrimination.
The other positive thing that happened was the publication
of a report by the State Comptroller regarding the failure of the education
system to promote shared living and to fight racism. This report is also an
historic report since it was compiled by an official body rather than by civil
community NGOs, who have been saying the things mentioned in the report
for years already.
Because of what has been happening in Israel for the past
few years, because of the increased exposure of racism in the country, raising
awareness, and because a lot of activists who had left the field are coming
back, we are now able to attract new people to the fight by creating solidarity
between victims of racism in Israel and by promoting shared action between
different organizations that represent different communities.
We have still been unable to reach the public-at-large, but
this is our goal for the next few years: to build a
movement against racism.
*Nidal Othman Director The Coalition Against Racism in Israel