Netanyahu's government will violate the civil and human rights of Israelis - opinion

We all want good governance and law and order but we also want justice and there can be no real justice without full equality.

 DEMONSTRATORS BLOCK a road in Tel Aviv to protest the indifference of authorities toward organized crime, violence and murder in the Arab sector.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
DEMONSTRATORS BLOCK a road in Tel Aviv to protest the indifference of authorities toward organized crime, violence and murder in the Arab sector.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

We want good governance. We want law and order. We want the police to be effective, to serve the citizens, to fight crime and to solve crimes bringing the criminals to justice.

We want the justice system to work and to prosecute those who need to be prosecuted. We want the court systems to try the accused in a timely manner and to make judgments that reflect a genuine sense of justice.

We want to see an end to the horrific murders in Arab society in Israel. We want the justice system to remove organized crime families from our streets. We don’t want paid protectionism anywhere. The outgoing government was the first government to make fighting crime, especially in Arab society, a high priority. There was progress but they didn’t have enough time to really make a significant difference.

As this was a high-priority issue in the campaign of the person who will likely become the minister in charge of the police. I wish him much success. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, the situation in Israel has always been that if Arab citizens are killing Arab citizens, it is much less of a priority for the justice system to deal with than if an Arab citizen kills a Jewish citizen.

Just look at the rate of solving the crimes and compare the two situations. The statistics tell the truth that there is no comparison to the number of resources that are spent when the criminal is an Arab and the victim is a Jew as opposed to an Arab criminal and an Arab victim.

 Dozens of Women Wage Peace activists, Jews and Arabs, holding a peace vigil near Ilka bar in Tel Aviv, April 12, 2022.  (credit: YAEL BRAUDO-BAHAT) Dozens of Women Wage Peace activists, Jews and Arabs, holding a peace vigil near Ilka bar in Tel Aviv, April 12, 2022. (credit: YAEL BRAUDO-BAHAT)

The same can be said regarding the sentencing of criminals from different parts of Israeli society. In many, if not most cases, an Arab criminal will end up spending significantly more time in prison for the same crime committed by a Jewish criminal. Even among the Jews, an Ashkenazi criminal will in many cases receive lighter sentences than a Mizrahi criminal – that, of course, also depends on the original of the Judge in question.

Much has been written and documented on the discrimination within the court system and even after more than 70 years of Israel’s existence, the justice handed out by the system is very questionable. This is just one of the many reasons why the Israeli public has lost confidence in the system.

We want a strong legislative branch of government that has the ability to reflect public opinion, which is difficult in our very diverse society. We expect our legislatures to reflect the broad and diverse public and despite the huge differences politically between the 120 elected members of Knesset, we expect all of them to protect our civil rights as citizens. I expect them to especially protect the civil rights of those groups within our society who are not part of the majority.

For me, that is the beating heart of democracy. It is not majority rules - that is the easy part, the heart of democracy is when the majority understands that the minorities must have the same civil and human rights as the majority. I have little faith and little hope that the incoming government even comes close to understanding and implementing the basic protections of the rights of many of the minority groups in Israel, especially the Arab citizens.

The new government will not be very far off from previous governments, even Labor Party-led governments. The enormous social and economic gaps in our society were not created by the Likud. The Likud enhanced many of those gaps but they were created and fostered during the times of the so-called leftist governments. One only needs to travel around the country and see the reality of Arab communities next to Jewish communities. It is all over the country.

Differing communities

COMPARE JEWISH Zichron Ya’acov to its direct Arab neighbor Fureidis. When driving from the coastal road toward Zichron Ya’acov you see green open spaces with beautiful homes spread across the hills of this community. Looking slightly to the left you see massive blocks of dense housing, cement and stone with little or no breathing space between them. Fureidis looks like an urban slum built into one of the most beautiful areas of the country with its many small Jewish communities controlling most of the land and open spaces.

Travel throughout Galilee and look at the small beautiful Jewish villages on all of the hilltops and then look below them to the densely populated much poorer Arab communities. The Arab communities were there before the Jewish communities were built. In the 1950’s most of the land of the Arab communities was expropriated by Israel and Jewish communities were built on that land.

Arab communities have been struggling since then to gain access to more land. In 1949, at the end of the war, 156,000 Palestinian Arabs became citizens of Israel. They were about 12% of the population at that time. Today, there are nearly two million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and they are 21% of the country. Yet even with this huge increase in population, no new Arab communities were built by the state in all of its history, as opposed to hundreds of Jewish communities.

There is no more space for the Arab communities to expand and there is a real crisis for young Arab families in Israel. They, like our own Jewish children, want to have a decent life, a home and a place to raise a family with a good community, services and good schools. They have nowhere to go. They feel suffocated and the only conclusion that they can come to is that Israel discriminates against them because of their national identity.

I expect our government to relate to all of its citizens with full equality, as stated in the declaration of intent of our founders within the Declaration of Independence. Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The incoming government of Israel claims that it will bring good governance, it will fight crime and will bring security to Israel’s citizens. The incoming prime minister even promises us that he will bring additional peace treaties with more of Israel’s neighbors. Many of us, roughly half of the electorate who did not vote for any of the political parties that will make up the new government, do not trust that the new government will not violate our rights.

We are quite convinced that the words of the full right-wing coalition government will turn into actions that will violate the civil and human rights of many of the country’s citizens.

We all want good governance and law and order but we also want justice and there can be no real justice without full equality. It is clear that the new incoming government has no intention of ensuring full equality.

The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond.