Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anti-Arab Racism Seething in Israel

Israelis generally hate it when people compare their treatment of Palestinians to that of Nazis during the Holocaust, but I'm going to do that now, with good reasons, and with some qualifications.

The Nazis started small, with segregation, with government-sanctioned hatred and distrust of Jews. They didn't start right off with gas chambers, concentration camps, and wholesale murder. If they had, the world would have sat up and took notice immediately. They did it slow, so they could let the world adjust to the idea. "Separate but equal" was how it started in the U.S. but fortunately did not continue in that vein. There is an old adage: if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out. But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly make it hotter, the frog will slowly boil to death.

Most Israelis probably don't even realize that this is the direction their country, and their culture, is heading. Most are idealistic, democratic, and share the values of the West. But values of racism and segregation are slowly permeating the culture. Slowly, so that people can accept incidents as isolated rather than as part of a pattern.

But meanwhile, Jewish settlers (with their government's support) take over Palestinian homes and farmland. They beat and sometimes shoot Palestinian farmers and schoolchildren, seldom with any consequences. The government discusses laws like the "Nakba law" that would make it illegal to publicly commemorate the expulsions that resulted in the creation of Israel. Members of parliament openly advocate forced segregation based on race. Palestinian Jerusalemites cannot buy property in West Jerusalem. I could go on, but I won't.

But the most obvious symptom of the pervasive culture of racism that is blooming within Israel is the one you can see on the walls of mosques, schools, bus stops, and everywhere else unwanted Arabs make their home. Graffiti like "gas the Arabs," "death to Arabs," "no Arabs allowed," and more are everywhere.

Please do click this link and see a post on "Lawrence of Cyberia" exhibiting a collection of photos from all over Israel and West Bank bearing these messages. Anyone who wants to deny anti-Arab racism exists at such a level in Israel will say that these are indeed isolated incidents. That the pictures were taken over a period of many years, perhaps, or that the grafitti is removed right away.

But those things aren't true. Out of the 26 photos on the post, I have personally seen 9 examples- either the very piece of graffiti pictured, or a very similar message, in the last year. In fact, several of them I saw last summer and they are still there this summer, a year later.


William said...

Hi! I've been following your blog with interest. I think I found you through Mission Mission. Do you plan to speak somewhere when you return? I'd love to hear more, and I'll bring pals.

HRH said...

Wow, I'm really flattered that you consider me someone who would "speak somewhere." I'm just a humble student and writer at this point. I do hope that all my travels and research will eventually culminate in me educating others about what goes on here, but no opportunities on the horizon as of yet. You are welcome to email me though to brainstorm, discuss, whatever, at tomilaineclark at gmail

aliyah06 said...

This is akin to concluding that because some Hispanic kids leave gang tags (whether or not they are in gangs or being "cool") that all Hispanics are gangsters. Some kids are racist--happens in your society too. Not everyone in Israel is racist and I find the level of racism is far lower here than in the US.