Press Release

Mossawa Center commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Mossawa Center Staff
May 29, 2023

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Mossawa Center warns of the spread of racism in statements made by Israeli government ministers. In response to a call to burn the home and car of an Arab lecturer by his students, the government's legal advisor ignores the racist statements. The Mossawa Center warns against the legitimization of racism and discrimination in the current government's statements and policies, which they consider the worst in decades. They point to statements made by the Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who called for the burning of Hawara and claimed that there is no Palestinian people, in addition to the inciting statements made by the Interior Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, against Arab citizens in mixed cities and in the Negev, as well as attempts to restrict Arab presence there. This is in addition to the racist statements made by Minister Orit Malka Strock, who refuses to provide treatment to patients according to their religious or ideological beliefs. The Mossawa Center considers these statements to contradict the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, religion, and gender should be universally prohibited.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was declared as March 21st by the United Nations to commemorate the establishment of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1960 and to remember the 69 peaceful protesters who were killed by police in Sharpeville. The United Nations issued dozens of resolutions supporting people in their struggle against discrimination and racism for the occasion.

In 1990, the apartheid regime in South Africa fell, but Israeli governments continue their racist policies towards Arab citizens, which have been on record since 1948. The pace of racism has increased through legislation that enshrines Jewish superiority and discrimination against Arab citizens, starting from the Citizenship Law to the Nationality Law. With attempts by the current government to make changes in the judiciary and executive power's control over it. There are fears of deepening racist policies towards Arab citizens, who are the main target, especially with the increasing frequency of racist and inciting statements by ministers in the settler government, particularly the Finance Minister Smotrich against Arab citizens and the Palestinian people in general. This has reflected on the racist atmosphere in Israel, especially in light of the unprecedented incitement activities of the Im Tirtzu group, which led students to discriminate against Arab lecturers in Israeli universities, as well as to restrict the activities of Arab students in universities.

The policies of the government, as demonstrated by racist statements from ministers and proposed laws to be introduced soon, indicate a desire to entrench discrimination against Arab citizens and to enforce the Nationality Law by increasing racist legislation. In the field of planning and construction, coalition agreements mention plans to establish settlements in the Negev and Galilee and to increase Jewish presence, which will likely come at the expense of Arab citizens. Since 1948, tens of thousands of dunams of land belonging to Arab citizens have been seized,and discrimination between Arab and Jewish citizens is evident in planning and construction. While dozens of Jewish towns have been established since 1948, there have been no Arab towns, and dozens of unrecognized villages lack basic services, despite illegal settlements in the West Bank receiving such services.

The current government intends to expand the law of racial acceptance committees, which directly targets Arab citizens and excludes them from housing in towns with a Jewish majority. There are also attempts to amend the acceptance committees law to include towns that have 400-600 families to include more than 1000 families.

In addition to the racist legislation against Arab citizens, which grants collective rights to Jews, such as the Nation-State Law, the Citizenship Law, the Immigration Law, and dozens of other racist laws, there is clear discrimination in the allocation of resources and budgets for health and education. For example, the Arab community receives less than 4% of the state's budget, and there is a gap in the budgets allocated to education, with Jewish students receiving twice the amount of funding compared to Arab students. Transportation services for students in unrecognized villages are non-existent, and there is a clear infrastructure gap between Arab and Jewish schools. Arab schools lack development in infrastructure, activities, and curriculum. Despite repeated demands for an Arab university, none have been established in Arab towns, in contrast to dozens in Jewish towns or mixed cities. Since the 1980s, the municipality of Nazareth has demanded the establishment of an Arab university in the city, but it has been met with refusal.

The institutionalized racism and discrimination against Arab citizens in Israel led to the killing of 13 Arab citizens by police officers during the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. However, due to the failure of state institutions to hold police officers accountable, this gave impunity to police officers to continue their violent behavior towards Arab citizens. Since 2000, the number of victims of police violence on racial grounds has reached 47 Arab citizens, with only two cases prosecuted and closed. When Musa Husseini was killed by a settler during the events of the Karameh Intifada, no indictment was presented. In addition, there have been dozens of attacks on Arab citizens and their property based on racism, which has increased in frequency since the arrival of Neftali Bennett and Smotrich to the government and the presence of ministers and public figures inciting violence against Arab citizens. Although racism and discrimination in Israel clearly target Arab citizens, it has also affected other marginalized groups, such as Middle Eastern Jews and Ethiopian Jews.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Mossawa Center reaffirms its commitment to combating all forms of discrimination and racism. We are dedicated to eradicating racism and discrimination against Arab citizens while promoting equality and human rights principles. We express solidarity with the struggles of all peoples who face racism and discrimination, and we emphasize the necessity of solidarity among marginalized groups in Israel to combat discrimination and racism. Furthermore, we stress the crucial importance of internationalizing the issues faced by Arab citizens in light of the increasing waves of racism and incitement in Israel. We call on the international community to put an end to the racist policies pursued by the Israeli government against Arab citizens, which violate international agreements and the UN Charter.

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