The Knesset’s Education Committee is due to discuss on Monday the Superland
amusement park’s decision not to allow an Arab school from Jaffa to visit the
park on the same dates that Jewish schools are holding their end-of-they ear
What’s to discuss? It should be clear to anyone with a
smidgen of decency that such discrimination is totally unacceptable.
pathetic explanation offered by Superland’s owners, that the schools themselves
– and I think it’s fair to assume here we’re talking Jewish schools only – had
asked for the separation is no justification for amusement park’s craven
submission to racism.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, no bleeding-heart
liberal, put it best when he wrote on his Facebook page: “I ask myself how would
one of us react if in any other country, the director of an amusement park were
to tell us they have separate visiting days for Jewish schools and other
schools?” BUT ISRAELIS should drop the pretense of being shocked at such overt
displays of racism: The bitter truth is that such discrimination is part and
parcel of regular life for around 20 percent of the country’s
There are glaring socioeconomic differences between Jewish and
Arab population groups, particularly with regard to land, urban planning,
housing, infrastructure, economic development and education.
19-year-old Lina Makhoul from Acre won this season’s The Voice competition, the
fact that she was a Christian Arab made her victory headline news, such is the
rarity of an Israeli Arab making an impression on mainstream Israel. The
staggering lack of Arab faces on Israeli television, in the media, or academia
is a mark of Cain for a society that tries to present itself as a modern,
Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin made a telling
point in the wake of the Superland scandal. The only surviving Jabotinsky
liberal within the Likud Knesset faction, Rivlin highlighted the poisonous
atmosphere in the Knesset as an enabler for this increasing wave of racist
The previous Knesset was notorious for the anti-democratic
legislation it passed, such as the Boycott Law, but this present Knesset is well
on its way to sinking into even deeper lows. At the end of last month, coalition
chairman Likud MK Yariv Levin submitted a bill that would make Judaism superior
to democracy in the State of Israel.
Under the provisions of his proposed
law, the courts would be obligated to prioritize the state’s Jewish identity in
rulings that address issues of religion and state and it also stresses an
exclusive Jewish affinity to the “land of Israel.”
To make it even
clearer as to where Israel’s large Arab minority stands in Levin’s worldview,
the status of Arabic would be downgraded from its present standing as one of the
country’s two official languages.
And we wonder why Israel ranks so
poorly in polls such as the BBC’s ranking the world’s most positively viewed
countries, in which Israel only managed to beat out North Korea, Pakistan and
IN FACT, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague recently posited
a clear answer as to why Israel is regarded so unfavorably in the United Kingdom
and other parts of Europe.
Just before his visit to Jerusalem last month,
Hague told Sky News: “Israel has lost some of its support in Britain and in
other European countries over time – this is something I’ve often pointed out to
Israeli leaders – because of settlement activity, which we condemn. We strongly
disagree with settlements on occupied land. Israel is a country we work with in
many ways but we do disapprove of settlements.”
He then went on to say
that he hoped Israel and the Palestinians would fully commit to the peace
process, “while there is still a chance of a two-state solution.”
is not the only foreign leader to warn that time might be running out for a
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due to
unveil his plan for kickstarting the peace process at the end of the week, has
told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington that if an agreement is
not reached within the next two years, then the chance for a peaceful agreement
establishing an independent Palestine may be over.
There are many
Israelis, on both the Left and the Right today, who believe that chance has
already gone due to the existence of 340,000 settlers living on the West Bank
(excluding east Jerusalem). Others on the Left still argue that if the Israeli
government has the courage to evacuate some 75 settlements that are outside the
large settlement blocs, then the two-state solution is still just
One has to hope that they are right, because the alternative of
Israel continuing to occupy the West Bank will eventually spell the end of
Israel as a Jewish state, regardless of any bills Likud MKs like Yariv Levin try
to push through the Knesset.
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of
The Jerusalem Post.