2008 Sikkuy report: huge socioeconomic gap between Jews and Arabs (with this government, it’s likely to grow)

Posted: November 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, racism, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Diplomacy has caught most of my attention lately, and I haven’t written in a while about Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Unlike the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza, the situation of the non-Jewish minority in Israel is not receiving enough of the world’s attention, so in a sense it’s even more important to follow it closely.

About a week ago, Sikkuy, The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel, published its annual report. The report is an Index measuring the socioeconomic gap between Arab and Jews in Israel; from what I gather, it uses a similar statistical method to the one the National Urban League uses to measure the gap between Blacks and Whites in the US. All the data Sikkuy uses comes from official government sources.

There is almost widespread agreement in Israel that the gap between Arab and Jews is a critical issue that should be addressed as soon as possible (the Government-appointed Or committee wrote so explicitly). Yet there was little interest in Sikkuy’s findings this week. Only a few Journalists came to the Press conference in Tel Aviv I attended, and in the following day’s papers, their reports were hard to find. Many media organizations in Israel don’t even have a reporter covering the Arab population, even though it makes up to 20 percent of the citizens.

In short, the situation is not good – and it’s getting worse. Out of the five elements the 2008 Sikkuy report checks, in four – housing, health services, welfare services and employment – the gap between Arab and Jews has widen. In education there has been a slight improvement, but it was more due to a decline in the Jews’ achievements.

The socioeconomic gap is not the result of a lack of effort on behalf of the Arab population, like some people like to think, but of government policy, dating back decades. Evan today, the money invested by the state for social services for each Jew is 1.5 times the sum invested in an Arab citizens – even though the Arabs are the poorest people in Israel.

More Arabs go to university than ever – but they can’t find jobs, not on the private sector but also not on state agencies (the number of Arabs employed by the state is much lower than their proportion in the population). Arab Unemployment is much higher than Jewish one, especially unemployment among university graduates. And these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

The 2008 Sikkuy index will soon be uploaded to the association’s English site. The reports from 2006 and 2007 can be found there as well. It should be noted that preliminary data from 2009 is even worse. It shows, among other disturbing figures, an unusually sharp drop in the number of Arabs entitled for a high school diploma.


There is another important point to make here. The previous government didn’t do enough to promote equal opportunities, but this was still part of its declared policy, and Ehud Olmert himself said several times that he is committed to fighting discrimination against Arabs.

In that sense, the difference from Netanyahu’s government is striking. It’s the first time in many years that promoting equal opportunities for none Jews is not part of the official agenda for the coalition. Furthermore, some cabinet ministers are doing their best to harm the Arab minority, to limit its rights and to insight against it. If once Israelis used to take pride in the rights Palestinian citizens enjoy here – as opposed to other countries – these rights are seen by many today as a burden. As I claimed on the first post of this blog, and repeatedly since, racism is the best currency in Israeli politics right now, one which is likely to bring a politician immediate publicity and support.

Just to give an impression of the dangerous slop we are on, here are a few proposals and declarations made by cabinet ministers in the few months the Netanyahu government has been in power:

● The minister of transportation, Israel Katz (Likud), is promoting an initiative according to which all Arab names on road signs will be replaced with Jewish ones.

● The minister for Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov (Israel Beytenu), demanded that the pope cancel meeting with the Arab mayor of Sakhnin on his visit to Israel.

● The Housing Minister Ariel Atias (Shas) called to stop Arab “spreading” in Wadi Ara, a region densely populated by Israeli-Arabs. he is currently pushing a plan for a city for orthodox Jews in the area.

● The Education Minister Gidon Saar (Likud) ordered that Arabs won’t be allowed to teach the term Nakba, referring to their national disaster of 1948.

● The minister of the Police, Yitzhak Aharonowitz, has told an undercover agent he “looks dirty like a real Arabush” (a Hebrew slang word that carries a cultural meaning very similar, or even worse, than “nigger” in the US).

● The Finance Minister, Yuval Shtainitz, declared that one of Israel’s problems is that Arab women “don’t want to work”.

● and finally, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman – a man who disgraces not only the state, but the entire Jewish people – promotes plans for striping Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship or from the rights is gives them.

By its actions, the Israeli government is currently doing more than any of Israel’s enemies to bring life to the claim that Zionism inevitably leads to racism.

Fascism or just a sad joke? marking the Nakba to become illegal

Posted: May 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: culture, In the News, racism | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The government of Israel has decided to make life easier for those who claim it is an Apartheid state (or just a Fascist one). Haaretz reports:

The Ministerial Committee on Law and Constitution on Sunday approved a preliminary proposal which would make it illegal to hold events or ceremonies marking Israel’s Independence Day as a “Nakba,” or catastrophe (…) According to the bill, those found in violation could face up to three years in prison.

The ministerial approval is only a preliminary step and has no legal bearing yet. Before the proposal could become a law, it must first undergo Knesset approval and cabinet consideration.

I won’t go into explaining why this offer is both bad and stupid. If you don’t understand that freedom of speech is meant to allow expressing such views – even if most Israelis find them offensive – look for your first lesson on democracy somewhere else. And if you think that you can prevent people from remembering their national heritage just because you don’t like what it says about yourself – you better learn some history as well, and start with Jewish history.

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