Art project: Take one large sheet of white paper and write “Israel” at the top.
Do not draw borders.
In the Palestinian territories and on the Golan,
place dark green dots on the Palestinian villages and towns. Place orange dots
for the Jewish villages and towns (settlements). For the four Druse villages of
the Golan, place purple dots. For the village of Ghajer, the lone Alawite
village, place a tan dot.
Inside the Green Line, place red dots for the
268 kibbutzim and dark blue dots for the 500 moshavim.
For all the Muslim
Arab villages, place a green dot. For the two Circassian villages, place dark
brown dots. For the 17 Druse villages and towns, place light purple dots. For
the Maronite village of Jish in the Galilee, place a light blue dot. For the
Christian villages, most of which are shared with Druse or Muslims, but several
of which are mostly Christian (Kafr Yasif, Eilabun and Mi’ilya), place yellow
dots. For the 49 illegal Beduin villages of the Negev, place dark grey
For the 30-40 development towns – home to Russians, Ethiopians and
Mizrahi Jews – place grey dots.
For the haredi towns, neighborhoods and
villages, place black dots. For Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, place large empty
circles (if you have done this project correctly, they should already have dots
in several of them representing the Muslim, Christian and haredi
The map you have drawn is a map of Israel. Of course there
are no borders, there need not be. This is not the Israel you commonly think of,
the wedge of land between the Jordan and the sea, with or without the
Palestinian territories. This is the Israeli archipelago, and it represents much
better the reality than the one found on any map. For Israel is more a country
of islands, like those found in the Caribbean or the South Pacific. Each
community, each town, each village, each neighborhood is its own island. Forget
the myth that people “mix” at the university or in the army. For the most part,
they do not.
THE REALITY of the Israeli archipelago confronts us on a
daily basis. It is a cultural and socioeconomic reality and it transcends many
factors in society. A recent article by Israel Harel described the country’s
largest city as “the draft-dodging state of Tel Aviv [which]... resembles the
haredi city of Bnei Brak in its percentage of draft dodgers.”
out that “most of the draft dodgers from Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
studied at specific educational institutions – the former in a certain type of
yeshiva, the latter in certain [secular] high schools.”
It turns out that
Tel Aviv is ranked worse than the Beduin town of Rahat in draft statistics
compiled by the army. The national religious sector accounts for a massively
disproportionate number of officers and combat soldiers in the army. But
alongside the disproportionate service is the disproportionate lack of service
in the Arab, haredi and wealthy secular Jewish sectors.
Also, almost half
of all Jewish women do not serve.
In the final analysis 52-55% of
citizens do not do any sort of national service.
Statistics show such
shocking dissimilarities among other places in society. Take the murder of women
by their husbands and lovers; 18 were killed this year – seven Arabs, three
Ethiopians and three Russians.
To put it simply, your chance of dying as
a woman at the hands of your partner is not the same in Modi’in as in Lod and
Ramle. And two communities don’t even share the same language for the murder of
women – the Arab community, by and large, denies that honor killings even
happen, while the Israeli Jewish community tends to excuse the killings as a
cultural problem for the Arabs.
And suicides; who is killing themselves?
Statistics show it is mostly people in towns with economically vulnerable and
high immigrant populations. Of the 10 most common places for people to commit
suicide, based on statistics from 1998-2004, we find Kiryat Yam, Kiryat Motzkin,
Hadera, Kiryat Bialik, Bat Yam and Kiryat Gat. New immigrants from the Soviet
Union and Ethiopia made up 32% of all suicides in 2004, which is out of all
proportion to their numbers in the population. In contrast, few people in
Nazareth or Bnei Brak are at risk of becoming a statistic.
So there are
islands of death and wife killings in our society. But those are just a few of
THERE ARE islands in the media. The only place one will find people
from the poorer or minority communities is on the reality shows (Big Brother,
Master Chef, A Star Is Born, etc.); the rest of Israeli TV is dominated,
culturally and physically, by a few elite communities.
There are islands
of illegality, of squatters on state lands who do not pay taxes. Those are the
49 unrecognized/ illegal Beduin communities in the Negev, not to be confused
with the seven legal ones the government built in the 1970s and 1980s. And the
island of the foreign workers, stuck in South Tel Aviv, is helped by the
islanders from North Tel Aviv who champion their rights.
islands of differing taxes for water. While the public was asked to pay extra
for water in 2009 due to the shortage, the kibbutzim not only didn’t pay extra,
but according to writer Nehemia Shtrasler they don’t even pay the same amount as
everyone else for household consumption.
Consider the fracas over the
Knesset bill that would allow communities to reject people based on internal
criteria, or what is taking place in Safed or Jaffa between the local community
and others who want to move there. “Racism! Racism!” we hear. But why is it not
racism that 268 kibbutzim have been subjecting potential members to “selection
criteria” for 62 years of the country’s existence? There is no greater pastime
than pointing fingers at a group and demanding they live with the “other,” while
your community fanatically keeps others out.
Israel is an archipelago,
each community segregated from the others. Some rely on fences to keep the
unwanted masses away, some live on state lands for free, and some are called
“racist” in Karmiel or Safed for, oddly, asking that they be allowed to do what
the others have done all along, and have an island to themselves. For better or
worse, that’s the way it is; the least we can do is demand that those who want
to break down the barriers between the islands first tear down the fences around
their communities.The writer is a PhD researcher at Hebrew University
and a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.