Awaiting activists, police to deploy extra forces at TLV airport

Posted: July 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Israeli authorities are determined not to let any visitor who would declare his desire to come to the West Bank enter the country this Friday. In a statement made yesterday, PM Netanyahu’s office called the planned attempt by hundreds of activists to conduct a solidarity visit in the Palestinian Territories “an effort to undermine Israel’s right to exist”

As we have reported here on Sunday, A coalition of organizations has made public its intention to have hundreds of international activists land at Ben-Gurion airport this Friday, July 8th, and openly admit their intention to visit the Palestinian Territories. The campaign has been named “Welcome to Palestine.”

Israel controls all entries and exits to the Palestinian Territories. Until now, visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinians–and even non-political visitors–had to conceal their destination when questioned at the airport, or risk immediate deportation. A couple of years ago, American scholar Noam Chomsky was denied entry to Israel at the Jordanian border, after declaring his intention to give a lecture at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University.

Though the intention of the international activists to visit the West Bank has been known for sometime, it was only picked up by the Hebrew media in the last couple of days. Citing security officials, Israeli papers have reported on special deployment of police forces at Ben-Gurion international airport to take place from Thursday.

A police source told the daily Maariv that an effort will be made to locate the activists before they board their flights to Israel. “Those who will try to disturb public order will be dealt with,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Office told the site Walla.co.il.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office has released a statement declaring that the arrival of the protesters “is a continuation of the efforts to undermine Israel’s right to exist.” Netanyahu ordered the Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharomowitz (Israel Beitenu) to handle the preparation of all security agencies to the arrival of the activists. Aharonowitz will conduct a joint session of senior police officials tomorrow, the Army Radio reported.

“We will block those Hooligans from entering the state,” Aharonowitz told the press today.

The local media has labeled the event as “the air flotilla.”

The Israeli warning doesn’t seem to deter the activists from coming, though it is nor clear how many of them did buy tickets to Tel Aviv, and how many of those will be able to pass through the security questionings at the gate and board their flights.

In an article at the British Guardian, Sam Bahour, a coordinators of the Right to Enter campaign, called Israel’s threat to deny visitors entry to Palestine “disturbing” and “shocking”:

…more than 300 international activists plan to arrive in Tel Aviv during the week of 8 July at the invitation of 30 Palestinian civil society organisations, to participate in an initiative named “Welcome to Palestine”. Delegations from France, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, the USA, Japan and several African countries are expected.

Upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport, the invited guests, all from countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, will make no secret of their intent to go to the occupied Palestinian territory. This nonviolent act, a civil society tsunami of sorts, only comes after Israel’s restriction of movement and access to and from Palestine for Palestinians and foreigners has exhausted all established channels that carry the responsibility to uphold international law first and their domestic laws second.

Israeli anti-occupation activists are planning to conduct their “welcoming party” at the arrival hall of TLV airport.


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.