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Deteriorating Conditions for Israeli Arab Citizens

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Deteriorating Conditions for Israeli Arab Citizens - by Stephen Lendman

In April 2010, the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel published a report titled, "One Year for Israel's New Government and the Arab Minority in Israel," assessing the climate for Israeli Arabs - citizens comprising 20% of the population but none of the rights and protections afforded Jews.

Mossawa calls them "a potentially formidable force for peace and coexistence between Palestinians and Israeli Jews" if only they were respected as equals. They're not and face systemic discrimination, despite their wanting to be active participants and partners for peace in a nation as much theirs and Jews. Why not! They lived there for centuries without persecuting the minority Jewish population.

Like earlier governments, the Netanhayu regime denies them - its key portfolios openly hostile, extremists in them endorsing schemes to collectively expel them to a future undefined Palestinian state, either outside Greater Israel or in isolated cantons, surrounded by hostile Jewish settlements, incrementally stealing their land.

In the past year, discriminatory legislation institutionalized inequality, political delegitimization, and incitement against them. Also, their needs and rights have gone unaddressed, including violent racist incidents, at times involving killings.

Mossawa examined Israel's current political climate, "the issue of racism, violence and incitement against (Arab citizens) by public institutions, security forces and (Jews), as well as in legislation. In addition, the current socio-economic situation" they face, including the marginalized status of women. Budget allocations are also considered and how they short change Arab communities.

An Analysis of Netanyahu's First Year

His election created an "extreme religious-nationist coalition government, dominated by Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, (Israel is our Home)" - the latter party founded in 1999 by Avigdor Lieberman, an ultranationalist, revisionist Zionist, and current Foreign Minister.

In contrast, the political left weakened, but the presence of Labor in the government denotes its acceptance of belligerent, racist policies, however its members vote or may split. Even the opposition is a "mosaic of extreme right, center and left parties," unable to block extremist measures, harmful to Arab rights.

The election marked the low-point of Arab-Jewish relations. Ahead of it, Acre clashes caused damage and destruction to over 100 Arab and Jewish shops and properties, some burned to the ground (a mini- Kristallnacht mostly affecting Arabs).

The incidents signified a political agenda to Judaize Arab neighborhoods by transferring Jews to towns and cities across Israel. Racial incidents, violence and other incitement followed, Acre signaling worse to come.

Throughout 2008, political incitement against Arab communities occurred. Then the Gaza war that affected Arab Israelis, especially from repression of anti-war sentiment at the time and greater Arab hostility.

On January 12, 2009, Israel's Central Election Committee (CEC) banned two of three Knesset parties representing Arab communities - the United Arab List Ta'al and Balad - from participating in the February elections, claiming they don't recognize the Jewish state and call for armed uprisings against it. Although the Supreme Court overturned the decision, it showed an increasing infringement of Arab Israeli civil, human, and political rights as well as alarming racism and discrimination by state authorities.

Post-election, key portfolios have been dominated by ethno-nationalistic politics, legitimizing discriminatory ideology and legislation, threatening peace, Israeli Arab rights and security.

Much provocation also comes from former settlers, moved to Acre, Jaffa, Ramle and other mixed areas after Sharon's 2005 Gaza disengagement, now encouraged to incite violence against Israeli Arabs. Politicians like Avigdor Lieberman aid them by racist slurs and charging Arab political leaders with disloyalty when they disagree with government policy.

For example, on August 5, 2009, Lieberman accused MK Ahmad Tibi, United Arab List head, of being "more dangerous to Israel than the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad (and that Israel's) main problem is not the Palestinians but Ahmad Tibi and others like him."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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