According to the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, a group consisting of several organizations, racially motivated incidents have almost quadrupled since 2008. There were 16 reported cases in that year, compared to 63 between March 2012 and February 2013.
Residents of Tel Aviv’s affluent northern neighborhoods collect signatures to prevent Arabs from moving into the area. In other cities, homeowners are berated for selling or renting to Israeli Arabs. The mayor of Nazaret Illit in northern Israel wrote a newsletter to congratulate residents on keeping the city’s Jewish population constant “at 82 percent.” He also called upon citizens to “fight against the right of everyone in Israel to live where he or she pleases,” and even to employ “methods we would rather not discuss.”
A lawmaker with the governing Likud Party referred to Arabs as a “cancer in the nation’s body.” Africans are also increasingly the targets of attacks, in areas like south Tel Aviv, where adolescent gangs have it in for the immigrants. Their leader is a former member of parliament with an ultra-right party.
People who live in Israel can easily feel like castaways on the high seas. There are the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose rockets are pointed at Tel Aviv, and there are the mad television preachers and politicians from Iran to Saudi Arabia, who want nothing more than to see Israel destroyed. Those who live there constantly see images on television of hate-filled people around the world burning Israeli flags and, even in the two Arab countries with which Israel considers itself to be at peace, angry mobs storming the Israeli embassy. And although Israel is the strongest military power far and wide, its citizens are filled with a deep-seated fear.
This leads to overwhelmingly anti-Arab sentiments. For instance, a survey by the University of Haifa found that more than half of Jewish Israelis don’t want to live next to Arabs. In another study, 63 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement “Arabs are a security risk and a demographic threat to the country,” while 40 percent felt that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate.
“Arabs are being attacked just for being Arabs,” says Mordechai Kremnitzer, a law professor at Hebrew University. He speaks slowly and sounds worried. “Given our experiences, it ought to be clear that this sort of thing cannot happen,” he says. “Our soldiers are taught early on that the others are inferior to them,” says Kremnitzer. Almost every Jewish Israeli, male or female, serves in the army today. In his capacity as vice-president of the Israel Democracy Institute, Kremnitzer wants to meet with the country’s justice and education ministers. It is imperative that those in the government take action, he says. One in three children is now born into an ultra-Orthodox family, and most attend religious schools, which, rather than teaching students about universal values, drum into them the notion that the Jews have a biblical right to their land.
Read the full article here.