Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Palestine: "There Was No Single Year We Didn't Face Racism"

"There Was No Single Year We Didn’t Face Racism"

Reflections of an Arab of 1948 Palestine Living in Israel

By Politics in Depth Team

In an interview conducted by Isma'il Kushkush in Geneva, Mohammed Zeidan, Director of the Arab Association for Human Rights working in the 1948 Palestine, used the words below to describe the life of Arab Palestinians inside Israel.

Since 1948 Israel has applied several laws and policies to translate the notion of the Jewish state in sense of giving a preferable status to the Jewish community on behalf of the minority inside Israel. We are speaking of almost of 20 percent of the population who are the indigenous people of Palestine and the remaining of the Palestinian people inside historical Palestine. This minority faces discrimination in all aspects of life; I can categorize this discrimination into four major categories:

One, is the fact that Israel uses direct laws that use the "Jewishness" as a criteria for providing civil rights. Mainly, Israel provides special status for Jewish descents to get Israeli citizenship, while preventing the unity of Palestinian families in the pretext of not being Jewish; there is no equal treatment under Israeli citizenship laws.

The second criteria is what we can describe as indirect, covered, or hidden discrimination. Israeli law is also used to discriminate against Palestinians inside Israel, such as using the military service as a reason for not providing equal access to services or equal treatment. And that affects almost all aspects of life; if you serve in the army in Israel, you get privileges almost since the time you are born till the time you are dead, in health, education, public transportation, and taxation …etc.

The third criteria is what we call institutional discrimination. It is basically using the different ministries to implement the discriminatory policies, including health, transportation, development and so on. A good example of this is the allocation of funds where we see Israel allocating between 1:2 to 1:16 when spending on the Jewish population compared to the Arab localities. It is clear, when you visit any Palestinian village you see the difference in development and infrastructure,… etc, which is a direct result of policies that are used against the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel.

The fourth criteria, which I think is the most dangerous, is the discrimination and racism in the public sphere. It is the culture of racism that is rising in the Israeli community where we saw its translation in the last elections with the rise of fascist racist political parties.

Those parties were not just succeeding in the elections, but they also joined the coalition to form the government, which meant that their propaganda against Arabs was successful. They are now in power and thinking of implementing such propagated policies.

Here we are speaking of political parties that call for not only the suspension of basic citizen rights but the actual population transfer of the Palestinian minority from inside Israel to the outside area.

The Palestinian minority inside Israel has learnt, since 1948, how to deal with this racism because, as I said, it is a kind of a built-up system that has been applied against the Palestinians since 1948.

There was no single year that we didn’t face it. The fact that it is on rise, I think, is mobilizing more and more Palestinians to be more involved into political activity in response to that reality.

Thanks God, we see more and more people interested in politics and many more people are aware of our issues and trying to play a role to fight against that racism in different ways.

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