End the discrimination

August 15, 2019 00:39
3 minute read.
Israel police car (Illustrative)

Israel police car (Illustrative). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

This week we witnessed another case of racial discrimination.

Jihad Abu Ahmad, a resident of Nazareth, wanted to become a member of a country club in the nearby town of Nof Hagalil (known until recently as Nazareth Illit), but was refused.

According to a report in Haaretz, when his lawyer, a Muslim Arab, pretended to be a Jew named Haim Cohen, he succeeded in becoming a member. A representative of the club, according to the report, told him that he could “understand between the lines” why they are not accepting Arabs to the club.

If they would let in someone from the surrounding villages, “we will have to let in all of Nazareth, Kafr Kanna and the [whole] area,” the representative said.

This incident is just another in a long line of cases in which Arabs have been refused entry to facilities used by the general public.

A well-known incident – a case that was recently settled in court – is a decision by the Afula Municipality to deny nonresidents of the city entrance to a public park, a move that essentially was meant to prevent Arab citizens from the surrounding villages from enjoying the park.

This discrimination is just a symptom of how, in many cases, Arabs are seen as second-class citizens.

It has been over a week since it was revealed that the police and the production company of the Jerusalem District TV show planted a gun in the basement of an Arab resident of Jerusalem.

While the police did offer him an apology, it seems that no punitive actions were taken against the policemen who abused their power and put the life of an innocent man at risk, just for higher ratings.

Can you imagine such a thing happening in Ra’anana, Tel Aviv or Petah Tikva?

Another aspect of this discrimination is in the Likud’s initiative to install cameras in polling stations in Arab towns and villages. The Likud’s argument – which is somewhat justifiable – is that it should be done to prevent the rigging of the elections in polling stations.

However – besides the fact that these problems are present not only in the Arab sector – it seems that the Likud is trying to achieve more than just fair elections. A public relations company working for the party revealed that its aim was to lower Arab voter turnout.

“Shh... don’t tell anybody. It was us,” the Kaizler Inbar PR agency wrote on its Facebook page on April 10, the day after the election. “After a long period of preparations... and a deep, close partnership with the best Likud people, we carried out an operation that had a tremendous impact on one of the biggest achievements of the right-wing bloc: keeping the Arab sector voting clean,” it said.

“And thanks to people we sent to the polling stations, their turnout was lower than 50% – the lowest turnout seen [in the Arab sector] in years!” the post continued.

Installing cameras in polling stations as a private initiative is an intimidation method. In a democracy, citizens should not feel intimidated or watched when they go to vote.

How did we get to a point where the biggest party in the country is trying to lower the turnout of a group that constitutes 20% of the population?

The role of the Likud and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to be responsible and to close the gaps between Arab society and the majority Jewish society. They should use their power to prevent cases of blocking residents from public parks and unequal treatment by law enforcement just because of ethnic background.

That is one of the main roles of the ruling party in a democracy. Instead of divisiveness, the aim of society should be unity and inclusiveness, not just for the citizens who belong to the “right” race and background. It is not too late to reverse the trend of racial discrimination, but the process needs to start now.

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