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Alarming Racism in Israel

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Alarming Racism in Israel - by Stephen Lendman

Mossawa means equality, the Mossawa Advocacy Center promoting it for Israel's Arab citizens - about 1.5 million, comprising 20% of the population. Established in 1997, it "strives to improve the social, economic and political status of (Israeli Arabs), while preserving their national and cultural rights as Palestinians." It also promotes gender equality "in all spheres of society."

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Its September 29, 2009 press release headlined the "High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens (an organization representing Israeli Arabs) call for a general" October 1 one-day work stoppage to protest deteriorating conditions they face, and Israel's failure "to bring justice to the families of the 13 Arab victims that were killed by security forces during the events of October 2000," the start of the second Intifada.

The Committee asked all Arab institutions, organizations and businesses to honor it in opposition to Triangle and Negev area home demolitions; Galilee and Triangle area settlement building; discrimination in allocating resources; police violence, intimidation, racial, and political incitement; and the right of Arab citizens "to exist and live in dignity in their historic homeland."

Mossawa Center Calls the Current Knesset the Most Racist in History

A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa's report shows "that in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist," followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:

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"There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens."

They accused right-wing MKs of being "unhindered via proposed legislation," many in violation of Supreme Court rulings, including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and "even call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population."

Further discriminatory measures target services, benefits, and imposing a year's imprisonment for anyone publishing or saying something that would "bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country."

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wants road signs traditionally in Hebrew, Arabic and English changed solely to Hebrew to erase their historic identity. But doing so violates the Supreme Court's recognition of Arabic as an official Israeli language.

Other measures target those who can buy land and the so-called Nakba law, watered down from its original version to exclude imprisonment, but including a provision to withhold public funding for any state-supported body holding Nakba commemorations. Arab school curricula exclude its mention, and outright banning it denies Israeli Arabs their collective identity, memory, and right to freely express opinions, especially about something this important.

The Incitement Law threatens prison for anyone denying Israel's existence as a Jewish, democratic state, and the proposed Loyalty to Israel Law rescinds citizenship for anyone unwilling to pledge it. Still another measure bans demonstrations near public officials and service provider homes as well as others responsible for public welfare. It's one step short of prohibiting all demonstrations critical of government policies.

The Prevention of Inflation Law includes provisions denying protections and care for asylum seekers, and long prison terms for convicted "infiltrators" and human rights activists helping them. Other measures affect free expression, housing, political involvement, and Bedouin rights in so-called unrecognized villages, the home for tens of thousands living under appalling conditions, compounded by involuntary dispossessions to Judaize the Negev and Galilee.

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Mossawa Center's 2009 Racism Report

It began saying "almost every day" another Israeli Arab is victimized by racist actions. Mossawa documented 271 cases in various categories, confirmed by media and police reports. "Most documentation refers to events," not individuals, but their total number far exceeds the events mentioned.

Mossawa was alarmed that Occupied Territory (OPT) abuses have incrementally crossed the Green Line. Since the second Intifada's onset (after Ariel Sharon's provocative September 28 Al-Aqsa Mosque visit), few Israeli - Arab citizen confrontations occurred until Acre, Galilee's October 2008 violence. Incidents now "create separation between communities that used to" coexist peacefully. As a result, Israeli Arab citizens face disruptive social, economic and cultural futures.

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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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