African migrant in south Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Inflammatory and “xenophobic” remarks toward African refugees, a lack of
affordable housing, persistent destruction of Palestinian and Beduin homes and a
lack of freedom of speech were the top issues flagged by the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) in its annual report titled “The State of Human
Rights in Israel and the OPT” published Sunday.
According to the report,
the government’s refusal to adopt affordable housing laws combined with the
continued destruction of public housing in Israeli Arab communities indicates
that the state of housing in Israel and the West Bank has deteriorated in the
past year. To exacerbate matters, new municipal laws put into place in Tel Aviv
and Jerusalem have infringed on citizens’ right to protest and have made the
public’s ability to combat social injustice harder, ACRI alleged.
report said government attempts to ease bureaucracy and improve access to public
housing have fallen short. It dismissed as “a dead letter” an August 2011
National Housing Committee law that ostensibly addressed public complaints. “Now
it’s apparent that the little promised by the law has not been honored,” the
Moreover, the organization claimed that the tone of the
inflammatory language directed at African asylum seekers by the public and MKs
reached a new low in 2012. The report stated that in 2012 such language combined
with failed or insufficient policy toward asylum seekers, has lead to friction
between them and veteran residents of the neighborhoods in which they
In addition, the report stated that while the asylum seekers are
entitled to receive protection and residence permits, “on the other hand, the
state does not examine their asylum requests and treats them as undocumented
migrant workers, rather than as asylum seekers.”
As a consequence, many
migrants are driven into poverty.
However, the report was not entirely
rife with negative condemnations; it lauded efforts made by the Health Ministry
to improve living conditions for the disabled. Additionally, Israel’s decision
to join the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in
September demonstrated its willingness to be more accommodating and reduce
discrimination against people with physical or mental impairments, ACRI said.