Sunday, December 9, 2007

ACRI: Israeli Racism at Record Highs

The Association of Citizen Rights in Israel published its annual report, in which it claims that Israeli racism is at an all-time high. You can read about in Haaretz here. The report is available in Hebrew here; I couldn't find an English translation of it yet.

The report focuses on various discriminated sectors in the Israeli population, but leading them all, is, of course, the Israeli Palestinians. The report "notes a 26-percent rise in the number of racist incidents against Arabs and twice as many Jews reporting a feeling of hate towards Arabs."

Among Jewish respondents, 55 percent support the idea that the state should encourage Arab emigration from Israel and 78 percent oppose the inclusion of Arab political parties in the government. According to a Haifa University study, 74 percent of Jewish youths in Israel think that Arabs are "unclean."

Actually, I checked that last statistic, because I wanted to see what Hebrew word for "unclean" was used. The Haifa study is from 2004 and covered 1600 high school students in Israel. 69% of the Jewish students think that Arabs are not smart, 75% that they are not educated, 75% that they are not cultured, and 74% that they are not clean (nekiyim). 75% of the students think that they are violent.

According to the ACRI report, studies of Israel media show that Arab citizens are portrayed negatively, as threats, and in a stereotypical fashion.

Apologists for Israel will cite as mitigating factors the ongoing conflict, security concerns, the second intifada and the rocket attacks on Sderot, etc., etc, thus displaying their own racist tendencies to lump together all Arabs (citizens, terrorists, Hamasniks, etc.) in the same category.

The truth is that much of this racism is independent of the security situation, but follows inevitably and inexorably from how most Jews in Israel conceive of the Jewish state. I would like to make this point clear. Not all varieties of Zionism are racist, some are not racist at all; some are blatantly racist, and some are implicitly racist. The political Zionism enshrined in the State of Israel founding dogmas is at best implicitly racist, at worse explicitly and unabashedly racist.

By "racism" here I mean bigotry against a certain ethnic group/people, though not necessarily on purely racial ground.

If you define Israel as a state of the Jewish people, you have excluded non-Jews from the nation belonging to the state, be they "citizens" or not. So it doesn't take a leap of logic to contemplate excluding non-Jewish political parties from the parliament of the Jewish state, especially if they are not willing to mind their place but wish to assert their rights. Liberal talk of a "demographic threat," where the threat is from the citizens of the state, is likewise racist. It is thus not surprising that most of the country suppots the idea that the state should encourage Arab emigration from Israel. I am not saying that this is necessary; if the Arabs knew their place and kept to it, allowing their rights to be trampled upon, then the Israeli Jews would have no difficulty. Israeli racism is not eliminative racism; it allows Palestinians to live and to flourish provided that they know their place and don't get too uppity.

Of course, many Israelis I know really don't mind being called racist, since they see nothing wrong with being racist with respect to Arabs. To ACRI's poll, they will reply, "Big deal." Still, I am told that in Israel and elsewhere there are still Jewish liberals who are troubled by these surveys.

Perhaps they will say that increased racism, like massive violations of human rights, is the troubling, but necessary price to pay for a Jewish ethnic state.


Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with Israel being a Jewish state? There are 22 arab states and even more muslim states!

and 78 percent oppose the inclusion of Arab political parties in the government.

Nothing wrong with that considering the things they say against Israel.

allowing their rights to be trampled upon, then the Israeli Jews would have no difficulty.

LOL their rights are trampled on less in Israel than if they lived in any arab state.

When will The Association of Citizen Rights publish a report on Arab racism? That would be interesting.

massive violations of human rights

What do you call the rockets shot into Sderot, self-defense?

Jerry Haber said...

As I said, many Israelis and their rightwing Jewish supporters see nothing wrong with being racist -- that is how they view Judaism to begin with.

As long as the racism is Israeli and Jewish racism, it's glatt kosher. Hey, if the other side is racist, why can't we be?

Thanks, gbachrach, for confirming my views. I didn't expect you to think racism is such a big deal.

But I think there is something childish in pointing one's finger at the other guy and say, "Hey, he's also doing it, so why not go after him?"

Next time a cop stops you for speeding, try using that line on him.

If something is wrong, it is always wrong, no matter what the other guy is doing. At least that's what I taught my kids.

And the rockets shot into Sderot, since they are shot indiscriminately, are war crimes.
Even if the goal is to liberate one's homeland, even if one has no other weapons at one's disposal, even if the other side has one of the most powerful armies in the world, and commits war crimes and is condemned for it by international bodies, there are certain things that should not be done.

Unless, of course, you are Israel or the United States, in which case you make up your own rules. You can torture, abuse, bomb, and cause suffering to millions of people...because God is on our side, and we are for all the right principles, right?

Jerry Haber said...

I should hasten to add that I have friends who are bigots. (No "best friends," though.) And I certainly daven (pray) with bigots. Some of the most charming Israelis I know are bigots when it comes to Palestinians, even some prominent revisionist historians who speak about Arabs' natural "mendacity".

I am pretty prejudiced myself.

One of my family's dearest friends was a big supporter of Meir Kahane. We got into arguments and then we decided not to talk about it. But he happens to be, like Archie Bunker, a pretty good guy on a personal level, even towards Arabs. I know leftwingers who aren't as good a person as he is.

Being a bigot is a moral flaw, but it is not the only moral flaw. There are lot of people who rail against racism who have other moral flaws.

Anonymous said...

Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates.

Nations with predominantly Muslim populations are not the only ones to link their national and religious identity. These nations constitutionally recognize Christianity or Catholicism as their state religion: Argentina, Armenia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway and the United Kingdom. Bhutan and Cambodia are officially Buddhist nations.144

Israel has no official state religion. Freedom of worship is guaranteed to all. It is, however, the homeland of the Jewish people and was established and recognized internationally as a Jewish state by the United Nations in the partition resolution.

^from myths and facts

Judaism is a religion so wanting a Jewish state isnt rascist. Anybody can convert to Judaism and come to Israel. I dont consider myself a racist in the slightest. I do have a problem with Islam and I would guess that most of the people that participated in this poll thought of Muslims.

Islam is responsible for over 10,000 terrorist attacks since 9/11. Thats why Im against it.

Jerry Haber said...

I was using "racism" as laid out in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1966 by the UN

"...any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."

That is the racism I am talking about, and that is the racism that ACRI is talking about, and that is the racism in which you partake when you make blanket statements about the "Arabs".

Unfortunately, the only term in Hebrew is "gizanut" -- there is no term for ethnic bigotry or religious bigotry

I suppose I should be happy that you only are anti-Muslim, which means you discriminate on the basis of religion. That puts you more in the camp of the medieval Catholic Church than in the modern racist camp.

But what ACRI was talking about is Arab-hatred, and whoever admits to that disease is a racist, pure and simple. And many Israelis admit to it, and some are proud of it. And that disease preceded 9/11, and it preceded suicide bombing.

Even if there were Arabs who were personally responsible for the murder of six million Jews, "hating Arabs" would still constitute racism.

Certainly "hating Germans" is racist.

Anyway, I have a two-comment limit on the posts, now. So, see you later.

Anonymous said...

A recent report also found religious sentiment rising among Israeli youth.

A connection?

[re: 33% "hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist" - I don't know these terms.
Do they denote religious fundamentalism, fanaticism?

If so, that is really scary.]


"An Israel Democratic Institute (IDI) demographic survey finds religious growth and secular decline - but most significant is that the proportion of religious in the public is highest among the youth.

The percentage of Jews describing themselves as secular has dropped sharply over the past 30 years, while the religious and traditional proportions have risen. The annual survey finds that the secular public comprises only 20% of the Israeli population - compared to 41%, more than twice as much, in 1974.

Nearly half the population, 47%, describes itself as traditional, while the hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist together comprise 33% of the public."

Anonymous said...

It is not just Arabs who suffer. Even Olmert has recognized racism against Jews of African ethnicity and not just amongst certain Haredim

Anonymous said...

"...22 arab states... blah, blah, blah..."

The population of those 22 states is 325 million. The population of Israel is 7 million. Is gbacharach trying to say that its somehow unfair that 325 million people (46 times the number in Israel) live in 22 countries? Would it be better if they all lived in one large country? Would he think it somehow more equitable? Or is he just mouthing meaningless hasbara because he can't think for himself?

Thanks Jerry, for your insightful posts. If you find a copy of the ACRI report in English please let us know.

My sister moved to Israel over ten years ago. I've noticed her attitudes slip farther and farther into racism since she's been there. I think the atmosphere and prevailing attitudes there facilitated that slide. How does one go about changing a racist society into a more accepting society? The only thing that encourages me is the advent of small groups such as Taayush and the anarchists.

Anonymous said...

Stereotyping people allows one to view them as less than human. They are no longer seen as individuals but instead become a faceless population all considered to share whatever faults alienate one. As many of the British thought of the Irish and as the Nazi ideology considered anyone not "Aryan," the Palestinian Arabs have become, for many, a subhuman population. And many Israeli supporters identify everyone in Gaza, individually, as guilty for the bombing of Sderot.

gbacharac, are you aware that the United Nations tallies all bombs fired from Gaza during the period from July 2004 to July 2007 at 2,696, whereas from Jan-Oct 2006, Israeli Security Forces fired some 14,000 artillery shells into the Gaza Strip? Israeli deaths in four years from rockets: 11 people. Palestinian deaths from artillery shells in the first ten months of 2006: 59 people. In both instances, almost all deaths were of civilians.

What is it Shakespeare wrote?
Methinks she doth protest too much.