I had about 12 or 13 items for you tonight. But since a goodly portion of them are on Israeli racism, have decided to save the others for tomorrow or another time and to send 6 items tonight—the first 5 on the subject of Israeli racism, which becomes more and more rampant. Item 5, from the Spiegel, is a long article on the subject—the article is a bit old, but is entirely relevant. I disagree with its main reason for racism in Israel—fear. Not that fear is entirely absent, but even it, to whatever extent it exists, results from the fact that Israel is a “Jewish state.” Any country that grounds itself on a single race or religion, or ethnicity, or any one of anything else is bound to dislike the ‘other.’ And in such a country, when ‘outsiders’ threaten to outnumber or lessen its desired demographic majority, then they must be kicked out or dealt harshly with, and surely disliked.
It is doubly shocking that Israel should turn into so racist a country since such a large part of its population has consisted of people who themselves had been refugees at one time or another. But so it goes in countries that decide that they have a ‘chosen’ people. It cannot be otherwise.
Of course not every Israeli is racist—but too many Israelis are. And they are encouraged to be by Israel’s leaders, who in the Knesset pass racist laws.
Item 6, the final item below, reports on what is happening on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza.
All the best,
1 Haaretz Tuesday, June 04, 2013
How Israel talks about its ‘Bedouin problem’
The Negev Bedouin are invisible when they need public services, not least the police; but the Bedouin are the all-too-visible targets of an effective indoctrination effort which vilifies them as the country’s enemy.
By Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu
After the murder of Rimas and Isnad, two young girls from the Bedouin village of Al-Fura’a, the dismissal of the commander of the Arad police station was swift – and covered extensively by the Israeli media. Despite the girls’ mother having come to the police station the night before the murder, warning that the girls’ father posed a serious threat to his daughters, no action was taken. The dismissals may have been an inescapable formality for the police, but it cannot make any real positive impact; in fact it would almost be viewed as an act of injustice to the dismissed officers.
If this sounds like a curious reading of the event, then we need to understand the context of this tragic event. The police inattention to the complaints filed by the girls’ mother was not a mishap, as current and former police officials have tried to emphasize. Despite the unusual, tragic outcome, the mishandling of the case was not evidence of a “bad apple” or a “singular incident”. Instead, it was a horrific demonstration of standard operating norms.
Policing is an important public service, despite the fact that it involves the possession of firearms, the legitimacy to use force and a hierarchical, semi-military chain of command. These features are an unavoidable part of this public service, used to ensure policing effectiveness especially in terms of securing members of the public. In recent years, the police has increasingly highlighted and reinforced its service orientation and less its enforcement role. “We are here for the public,” commanders repeat to their subordinates. “Our job is to listen to citizens, help them in times of distress, protect them, and save their lives.” This is absolutely correct.
If we expect the police to follow public service norms, we should perhaps ask what exactly these norms are when procedures involve the Arab-Bedouin population.
Is the (dis)service that Arab police officers gave the abused Bedouin mother very different from the lack of other—more or less critical—public infrastructure services that the residents of Al-Fura’a, Abu-Ashibah, Al-Atrash, Wadi-Naam, and other Bedouin settlements receive? Do urgent calls to disconnect electricity in order to operate life-saving equipment receive a rapid response? Do cable technicians jump quickly into their van when a resident of Bir Hadaj reports reception problems? Has anyone ever given a thought to placing a train station halfway between Be’er-Sheva and Dimona, in Abu-Tlul, for example?
These questions might seem merely cheap, groundless demagoguery, especially since most Bedouin villages have neither electricity nor running water. The services mentioned above were never planned to reach the Bedouin who live in the dozens of villages dispersed between the government-established urban towns or townships in which 67% of the Negev Bedouin live.
The almost complete transparency of these Bedouin in the eyes of public service providers is made possible through an effective indoctrination effort in which the Bedouins are a prominent target. In fact, this propaganda, the Bedouins are portrayed as far from being invisible but rather as numerous and threatening, as invaders and infiltrators, reckless drivers, violent individuals and criminals. Not only do they pose a danger for the country, they are also a danger to their own communities and families. This hatred for Bedouins is propagated by public figures (such as the media celebrity Avri Gilad, for example, who wrote a Facebook post in April about his recent Negev visit :“I’m appalled by what I’ve seen….By force, by shameless criminal activity, with insolence met only by fear and submission, the Bedouin have taken over the entire Negev,” organizations (the non-profit Regavim, for example which under the mission of “protecting the national lands”, works hard to delegitimize and deprive the Bedouin population, and elected public officials, who simply covet Bedouin lands. Their motto is: the fewer Bedouin in a smaller area, the better.
So if that’s the situation, and these are the limited services available to Bedouins, what could we have against the police officers from the Arad station? Do we expect them to be different from all the other civil servants? Do we expect them to ignore the newspapers and TV? Do we really think that they can be oblivious to the “Bedouin problem”?
And we haven’t even mentioned the problematic dual role that the police plays in the Arab sector. While for the Jewish citizens, the role of the police is more of a straightforward duty to provide policing services, it has a second, national security-oriented role in the Arab sector. How can these two duties coincide? Is it really feasible to expect the police force to adopt a true service orientation toward the very population segment that it considers to be a security threat?
More than any other organization in the country, the police has invested enormous efforts since the events of October 2000 (in which 13 Israeli Arab protestors were killed by the police) to improve its services to the Arab public, whose trust it is slowly gaining one step at a time. But as long as the police force is immersed in the country’s milieu, and as long as it is assigned an impossible task when working in the Arab sector, its options to improve the quality of policing are limited.
The dual, even contradicting perception of the police towards Israel’s Arab citizens was manifested sharply during the evacuation of the injured Bedouin victim of the Be’er Sheva bank shooting to the hospital. He, unlike any of the other customers caught in the crossfire, was the sole victim to be handcuffed.
Under the leadership of their station commander, Arad police officers were merely acting in accordance with the racist norms prevalent in Israeli society. These norms expect the police to treat an entire population group as invisible at best, and as the enemy, at worst. The dismissed police officers are not only the police’s fig leaf – they are a fig leaf for us all.
Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu is the Co-Executive Director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, a non-governmental organization that works to advance coexistence, equality and cooperation between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.
2 Ynet Tuesday, June 4, 2013
2 Jewish youths charged with racially motivated assault of Arab
Group of six Jews attacks Arab youth in Jerusalem, cause him injuries to all body parts: ‘Get out of our neighborhood, Arab bastard’
A minor and an 18-year-old were charged Tuesday with perpetrating a racially motivated attack against an Arab youth in Jerusalem’s Old City last week along with four of their friends who remain at large.
The incident at the Jewish Quarter of the Old City began when an assailant whose identity remains unknown to police started to curse the Arab youth, and then grabbed the Arab by his shirt and pushed him.
According to the indictment, six youths then gathered around the Arab, pushed him around and shouted “Get out of our neighborhood, Arab bastard.” They chased after him, and one of them ripped off the necklace he wore around his neck and grabbed his glasses. The youths, including the defendants, threw him to the ground, kicked and punched him in the face and body as he tried to defend himself with his hands. They also took his mobile phone, headphones and cash.
After the first round of attacks, the Jewish assailants fled from the scene and the Arab got on his feet and chased the youth who was later detained by police and pushed him against the wall. However then the other assailants returned, knocked the Arab off his feet and started kicking him as he was prone on the ground. One of them whipped him with a belt. The Arab youth numerous sustained injuries and was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment.
The two friends were charged with racially motivated aggravated assault. Additionally the minor was also charged with assaulting a police officer during his arrest.
3 Haaretz Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Knesset approves law barring ‘infiltrators’ from transferring money abroad
Amendment to the Law for the Prevention of Infiltration stipulates that migrants cannot send property while they are in Israel and limits the amount they can take with them once they leave; second amendment determines that violation will be considered a crime.
By Jonathan Lis
The Knesset plenum on Monday approved two amendments to the Law for the Prevention of Infiltration barring illegal migrants from sending money or property out of Israel while they are in the country and limiting the amount they can take with them when they leave.
The amendments restrict the sum migrants may take upon exit to no more than the sum of their minimum monthly salary, multiplied by the number of months they have been in Israel.
In extraordinary cases – such as serious illness of a close relative – special permits for transfering money will be issued by border control officials.
According to the law, a policeman or customs tax official are authorized to seize the forbidden property on its way out without a court order. Seized property that is not claimed after a year’s time will be appropriated by the Finance Ministry. The law is defined as a temporary order and is binding until January 2014.
The second amendment, an elaboration of the first, determines that taking money out of Israel will be defined as a crime, within the framework of the money laundering prohibition law. This allows the state to more effectively enforce the ban on taking money and property out of Israel, easing the seizure process.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who voted in favor of the bill, said Monday night: “We have stopped the infiltration problem into Israel. Last month only two infiltrators crossed the border into Israel, compared with 2,000 last year. We are now focusing on the departure of infiltrators from Israel. Several thousand have already left Israel, and we continue to make efforts to get the illegal infiltrators seeking work out of the country.”
The amendments were approved just a day after an expanded bench of Israel’s High Court of Justice heard a petition by human rights groups against an amendment to a law that allows the prolonged incarceration of people who enter the country illegally.
According to the amendment, migrants who enter the country illegally can be held in custody for up to three years, based only on their illegal entry. The amendment allows the Custody Tribunal − the body that hears such cases − to release the migrants only on humanitarian grounds (such as advanced age or poor health).
There are currently approximately 2,000 African migrants in detention facilities, 1,750 of whom are being held for breaking the law prohibiting illegal entry into the country.
Meanwhile on Monday, an unnamed African country agreed to take in Eritrean labor migrants living in Israel if Israel gives them agricultural training first.
4 Haaretz Monday, June 3, 2013
Deporting Eritreans to a third country will not absolve Israel of responsibility
The agreement with an African country to take in Eritrean migrants only emphasizes the need for the High Court of Justice to overturn the law that allows imprisonment of asylum seekers.
By Aeyal Gross
Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat, the state’s representative pulled out a new claim Sunday in the High Court of Justice during the hearing on the petition against the “Infiltration Law.” The state said Israel had reached an agreement with an African country to take in the Eritrean citizens who have arrived in Israel. This claim, one that was apparently unknown to the Foreign Ministry, does not lessen the fact that the law being discussed by the High Court needs to be overturned.
The law allows the detention of asylum seekers for at least three years, and some 2,000 men, women and children have been detained under the auspices of the law; some of them for a year already. Making it a crime to be a refugee undermines the principles of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and pushes the State of Israel more than 60 years back in time.
The attempt to derail the discussion from the issue of the law’s flaws ought to fail. We must also be worried by what State Prosecutor Yochi Gnessin said that the state is expected to reject almost 100 percent of the asylum requests of those from Eritrea since they are based on [army] desertion or illegal departure from the country. This figure is striking considering that around the world the percentage of Eritrean refugees receiving refugee status is about 74 percent.
The instructions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees state that the punishment for desertion or dodging military service in Eritrea – which can include torture and summary execution without trial – reaches the level of persecution within the framework of the refugee covenant. The instructions also point to the unlimited period of military service that exists in Eritrea, and the fact that this is in reality exploitation of draftees for forced labor. Given this, in Britain it has been ruled that leaving Eritrea illegally could bring about a danger of significant persecution upon return, and is therefore a reason for providing sanctuary.
As to the magician’s rabbit of transferring asylum seekers from Eritrea to a third country, it should be remembered that people are not objects that can simply be moved without taking their desires into account. Moreover, legally the covenant on refugees determines that a refugee cannot be deported except for considerations of national security or public order. In a broader sense, even for those who are not recognized as refugees, the principle of non-return, also known as non-refoulement, which was recognized by the High Court of Justice as a principal anchored both in international law and in Israeli constitutional law, states that a person should not be forcibly returned to a place where his life or freedom is endangered. This principle applies not only to a person’s native country but also to third countries.
For these reasons the European Human Rights Court rejected in 2012 agreements between Italy and Libya under which the Italy violated the principle of non-refoulement, since there was a real risk that Libya would return them to those same countries from which they fled. In another case an Australian court rejected the transfer of asylum seekers to Malaysia, since there were no laws there that protect refugees from forbidden return and persecution. Transfer to a third country is forbidden unless there are clear guarantees that this country will protect the asylum seekers and not deport them to a place in which they’ll be at risk.
Lacking concrete information on the identity of the country, the agreement and its details, it is unknown whether such an agreement will meet the conditions required by refugee laws and human rights laws. In any case, this does not in any way add to or lessen the flaws in the law being discussed by the High Court.
5 SPIEGEL ONLINE May 6, 2013
Suspicion and Hate
Racist Attacks On Arabs Increase in Israel
By Julia Amalia Heyer
Arabs are being beaten and insulted in Israel, where the number of racially motivated attacks has risen dramatically. The unresolved conflict, fueled by nationalist politicians, is shifting from Palestinian areas into the Israeli heartland.
The horror is etched on her face and caught on camera. Revital Wolkov is sitting in the driver’s seat of her white Toyota, staring over her right shoulder, through the broken rear window, directly into the lens. The hole in the window is shaped like a large butterfly.
Wolkov, 53, teaches history in Ramat HaSharon, near Tel Aviv. She was attacked and her car was damaged, merely because an Arab colleague was sitting in the passenger seat. It happened in March, but it wasn’t the only attack of its kind.
In the spring, several Jewish teenage girls asked a women standing at a bus stop in Jerusalem whether she was an Arab. The woman, wearing a headscarf, replied that she was. One of the girls pulled the hijab from the woman’s head and spat in her face. The others kicked and beat the woman. A police officer stood nearby and watched. Hana Amtir, 38, three months’ pregnant, locked herself into her house for three days before filing a complaint with the police.
In a beach bar in Tel Aviv, an Arab waiter was clearing away bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup, but the men sitting at one of the tables weren’t finished yet. “Damn Arab,” they cursed, and then proceeded to beat the man, who was later hospitalized. None of the other guests came to his aid.
Youths attacked an Arab cleaning man working for the city of Tel Aviv as he was emptying garbage cans. They broke a bottle over his head. The man, covered with blood, asked them why they were doing this to him. “Because you’re an Arab,” they shouted.
Such attacks have become commonplace in Israel, but it isn’t Jewish soldiers beating Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The attacks have nothing to do with militant settlers or an autonomous Palestine, although these conflicts are always at the back of people’s minds.
For decades, Jews and Palestinians have been fighting over the same piece of land. Some of them even share the same citizenship. Three quarters of Israel’s 8 million people are Jews, and 1.8 million are Israeli Arabs. However, their paths rarely cross in everyday life. Israel’s Arabs are not required to serve in the military, and many of them live in primarily Arab towns and neighborhoods, with their children attending Arab schools. They earn less on average and are not as well educated as Israeli Jews. Officially, they have the same rights as Jewish citizens, but in reality they are often the targets of discrimination.
‘We Have a Racism Problem’
The Jewish majority, influenced by terror and the constant threat of attack, sees the Arab minority as a “fifth column” of its hostile neighbors in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the entire region.
Instead of fighting suspicion and hate, politicians have in fact fueled these sentiments in recent years, by enacting laws that foster unequal treatment. Because of these laws, Arab schools can be deprived of funding if they remind their students of the 1948 expulsion, a day of mourning for Arabs and a day of joy for Jewish Israelis, which they have celebrated since independence. Communities are even allowed to turn away Arabs wanted to move there — so as to preserve their “Jewish identity.”
The suspicions are nothing new, as they reflect the underlying conflict in this country and beyond its borders. Nevertheless, attacks by perfectly normal Jewish Israelis on their Arab countrymen have been so brutal in recent weeks that the commentary has been surprisingly unanimous. The media on both the left and the right, otherwise rarely of the same mind, have condemned the attacks.
The Israeli press can be hard on its country and unsparing in its criticism. “We have a racism problem,” wrote the newspaper Ha’aretz. And Yediot Akharonot detects the process of dissolution of a “society that has never managed to establish a binding system of values for all of its components.”
Of course, it’s unfair to measure the severity of the problem against the highly charged atmosphere of the Israeli debate, because while anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are part of mainstream political thinking in the Arab world and often even encouraged by governments, Israel openly discusses racism at home. And, of course, the Israelis treat their minorities better than many Arab countries treat their Jews or Christians. But Israel has also set itself a high moral standard, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consistently describing his country as a beacon in the darkness.
Sharp Rise in Attacks
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.
One of those incidents was directed against Revital Wolkov and her colleague, Suhad Abu Samira, 25, a Muslim woman who was wearing a black hijab when the attack occurred. The two teachers were on their way to a funeral service when Wolkov parked her car in a Jewish section of Jerusalem, where many religious Jews live and the Arab translations on street signs are often painted over. When the women got out of the car, they heard people shouting.
“There was an entire group of children and young people standing there,” Wolkov later said in her apartment. At first, the women didn’t understand what they wanted. The youths spat, threw oranges and water bottles at them and shouted: “Arab whore.” Samira began to cry and the women fled into a doorway.
Wolkov experienced the Six-Day War as a child and the Yom Kippur War as a teenager. She was also a soldier and fought in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the wars did not turn her into a cynic. Her face turns rigid when she talks about that afternoon. After working as a teacher for 26 years, her first instinct was to seek dialogue, so she left the doorway and returned to the youths in the parking lot.
Why are you doing this, she asked?
“You Jewish slut, you’re friends with the Arab whore,” they said. The words still echo in her mind today. Then they began throwing rocks and Wolkov fled. When she returned, her car windows had been smashed and the tires slit.
Israelis Feel Superior But Threatened
Wolkov’s parents emigrated from Yemen. She has brown skin, and she knows what it feels like not to look like everyone else. Wolkov was a good student, and yet a teacher once said to her, in front of the entire class, that he wouldn’t have thought that a Yemini could be so good at mathematics. Even though Israel is supposed to be a homeland for all Jews, its society, like societies elsewhere, is divided by skin color and ancestry. Ethiopians and Yemenis are at the bottom of the hierarchy, while Jews of European descent are at the top.
“This is the Middle East. Nothing is normal here. Everyone is traumatized,” says Wolkov. Many Israelis feel superior, she explains — militarily, morally and culturally — and simultaneously threatened. “Those who are afraid begin to hate,” she says.
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 Seen as Enemies
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.”
“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.
Do Jews have to be better people, just because they are victims of anti-Semitism and racism, of persecution and genocide? Is this even possible, given the trauma and ongoing conflict they face?
The state of war is now part of everyday life, says Kremnitzer. The decades of being an occupying power showed the Israelis that they are stronger than the Arabs, he explains. And an Arab, whether he lives in Israel or in the Palestinian territories, is only one thing for many people, says Kremnitzer: the enemy. It’s also oddly schizophrenic that someone can be a soldier serving with the occupying army in the West Bank by day, with almost unlimited power, and then, in the evening, return to being a fellow citizen with his Israeli Arab neighbors.
“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.
Instead of advocating peaceful coexistence, some politicians, especially nationalists and the ultra-religious, prefer to draw attention to themselves with anti-Arab statements. Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai referred to illegal African immigrants as “intruders who are contaminating the country with diseases.”
A lawmaker with the governing Likud Party referred to them 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.
Knesset Speaker Juli Edelstein wrote on Facebook that the Arabs are “a deplorable nation.” And Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister until recently, wants to transfer Israeli Arabs to Palestine in the context of an exchange of territory and to revoke the citizenship of those who are “disloyal.” He even once called for the execution of Arab lawmakers who had met with Hamas politicians. But half of the Israelis feel that Lieberman has fascist tendencies.
Although there are also politicians who protest against such sentiments, the extreme rhetoric still percolates into the collective consciousness. And with the police often sympathizing with the attackers, it’s no surprise that those responsible for racist attackers are not always punished. “There isn’t enough punishment for these actions,” says legal expert Kremnitzer, adding that many of the culprits have no sense that what they are doing is wrong. “They believe that politicians support what they do.”
Football fan Asi, 23, says that he isn’t a racist, just a nationalist. “I have no problem with Arabs, as long as they raise the Israeli flag and sing along when our national anthem is played.” Lieberman used the same logic to justify a bill he introduced calling for new citizens to deliver an oath of allegiance.
Asi, who lives in a small village near Caesarea, supports the Beitar Jerusalem football club. On a Thursday evening, he and other Beitar fans are standing at an intersection in Herzliya. Asi has a friendly face and a neatly trimmed beard. Like his fellow fans, he is here to demonstrate against the club’s owner.
When it was revealed in January that the Club planned to sign two Muslim Chechen players, the stands in the stadium became filled with hateful signs, with words like “Beitar — Pure Forever.” The fans chanted: “We are chosen, we are holy, but the Arabs are not.”
Beitar Jerusalem, says Asi, that’s the holy menorah on a yellow background. The team, he says, can only win as a Jewish team, which is why Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to play in the club.
Beitar’s management has since cancelled the contracts with the Chechens and sent the two men back home. There were simply too many problems, the club wrote in a statement.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
6 Today in Palestine for June 4, 2013