US State Department 2008 Israel Country Report: Israel Discriminates Against Its Arab Citizens

It is often stated that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Defenders of Israel point to "Arab Israelis" as evidence of the inclusiveness of Israel despite its having a Jewish identity. The US State department 2008 country report indicates that Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens, Palestinians who, for a number of reasons, stayed in what became in 1948 the State of Israel.

Arab Education: Separate and Unequal
There is a big gap in educational achievement between the Arab and the Jewish citizens of Israel. This is attributable to discrimination in educational opportunities. "Institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Arabs" continued and the "government maintained unequal educational systems for Arab and Jewish students." The report adds "Academic institutions and advocacy groups have long charged that resources devoted to the education of Arab children were inferior to those devoted to Jewish children in the public education system. The State Comptroller's February 10 report on local governments noted that in the 28 Arab communities surveyed, there was a combined shortage of 1,082 classrooms in local schools."

Freedom of Religion: 20% Get 4%
There is also discrimination in state funding of religious groups. Non-Jewish groups, who comprise more than 20% of the population get only 4% of the government funds. "According to Israeli government numbers, "Religious minorities, which comprised slightly more than 20 percent of the population, received approximately 65 million NIS ($18.6 million), or just less than 4 percent of total funding."

Death to Arabs
The British soccer fans are known for acting violently after soccer games. In Israel, it is normal for the Jewish fans to chant "death to Arabs." The State department report states: "soccer fans from certain teams chanted "death to Arabs" and anti-Muslim slogans during games between Israeli Jewish and Arab teams." There is no indication that the government of Israel or the educational establishment is doing anything about this blatant death wish. We hear so much about the so-called "glamorizing martyrdom" in the Arab world but here the Jewish fans, on a regular basis, chant death to the Arabs. Given this death wish, the devastation in South Lebanon and Gaza is put in its proper context.

Harsh and Degrading Treatment of Foreign Nationals with Muslim or Arab Names:
ADC Concerns Validated

A number of Arab Americans have complained to the State department about mistreatment at Israel's border entry points. The American Arab Anti discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab American Institute have raised this issue with the State Department. It seems this mistreatment is not limited to Arab Americans. The report states " there were numerous reports of foreign nationals with Arab or Muslim names subjected to harsh and degrading treatment at border crossings. Diplomatic missions regularly protested such treatment regarding their nationals."

Arab Victims of Violent Attacks
One often hears in the media about Arabs attacking Jews but not the opposite. the report states: "According to press reports, "Jewish residents of Jerusalem perpetrated at least 20 violent assaults against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem during the year, most often using knives, clubs, and other weapons. Many of these attacks were reportedly premeditated."

Ala Sudorehem Baqoon: Im el Fahm lil Kenesset
The Palestinian citizens of Israel are seen as a threat and as a burden. One Palestinian candidate for member of Knesset from the Arab town of Im El Fahm campaign slogan was "we [Arab Israelis] stay on your chest [Israel], we will not budge." The report states: "On September 9, a number of Jewish local and district-level government leaders held a conference under the banner of the Renewing Zionism Movement in the Galilee town of Kfar Tavor, during which the leaders urged the need to "Judaize" the Galilee and warned of dire consequences if Jews lose their majority in the Galilee." There is strong support for expulsion of Arabs from Israel. The report states that " in a March poll commissioned by the Knesset television station, 75 percent of the Jewish public supported the transfer of at least some Arab Israelis as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, including 28 percent who believed all Arab Israelis should be forcibly transferred." Israel has the dubious distinction in the world in blatantly discriminating on the grounds of characteristics protected by the UN declarations on Human Rights while at the same time claiming to be a moral entity and a democracy. The report adds:"During the year the Israel Land Fund NGO launched a program to purchase Arab land in the Galilee and market it at discounted rates to Jewish buyers by distributing flyers to synagogues throughout the region stating the time was ripe to redeem the "Land of Israel."

Employment Discrimination: 20 % Get 1 % Employment

The report states that "Arab Israelis continued to suffer various forms of discrimination in public and private life." There is clear evidence of discrimination in government employment: "As of December 2007, Arabs (including Druze and Circassians) filled 51 of 528 board seats of state-run companies. Of the 55,000 persons working in government companies, 1 percent were Arab."

Israeli Hubris

In summary, Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens in all possible ways. It talks loudly about the need to get rid of them and "redeem the land." It has divided their historical land Palestine and split and uprooted their families. Millions of relatives of Israeli Arab citizens continue to live in exile as refugees. Israel continues in its occupation of the West bank and has turned Gaza into a besieged and impoverished ghetto. It continues to occupy Lebanese and Syrian land. At the same time, in classic colonial hubris, it asks its Arab citizens to "prove their loyalty" and to support its wars of aggression and occupation against its Arab neighbors.

A Call for a Consistent US Foreign Policy

The US government is always pressing governments, especially in the Arab world, for better treatment of their minorities. It is time to be consistent by openly criticizing and pressuring Israel, a major recipient of US largesse, to treat its Arab citizens better. The aid given to Israel should be dependent on its treatment of its religious and ethnic minorities.

For the full report:


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