A human rights oriented report issued in honor of the 60th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights crowned the country of Israel as most unsupportive western country to the disabled and minorities. The report addressed aspects such as health, education, accommodation, the right to privacy and many more.
The most unsettling kind of discrimination for me is the legal and legitimate blunt kind directed at Arab citizens in Israel. It manifests itself daily in legislation and policies unquestionably favoring Jewish citizens.
Taboo as it may be, I cannot avoid the comparison between Jews facing anti-Semitism in early 20th century Europe and Arabs facing racism in 2012’s Israel. Actually, some Israeli extremists where probably inspired by those “anti-Semite Monsters”.
I often encounter the horrific, irresponsible and practically illegal declaration: “death to Arabs”. As infants who innocently repeat curse words that their unsuspecting parents blurred out, without understanding the full meaning, questioning or casting doubt, so do Israelis that “hear” their government’s relations with Arab citizens and duplicate. No job opportunities, funding or quality education is perfectly fine, they’re Arabs and it’s their fault. Since infancy we have been suckling on the tales of their inferiority and our superiority, their blame and our innocence, them and us, so without a shadow of doubt – they had it coming.
When I talk with friends my age, a progressive and information driven generation, I often hear estranged, recited slogans. We can discuss art, music, sex and fashion in a deep and meaningful way, but the moment the Arab “problem” arises they become the echo of a blind and hateful mob.
So, what came first, the policy or the hatred? All of those decision makers where once children, students, soldiers and this hate trickled deep within their minds. They now have the honor of fulfilling the message of superiority by ignoring the needs of a large segment of the population they took upon themselves to serve. And so the torch of hatred is passed on from generation to generation, parent to child, teacher to student, elected official to attentive citizen.
One cannot ignore the threat of terror, the fear and the bereavement which ache and throb in all of us. I knowingly separate the politics, lands and local history from the welfare of Arabs in Israel. Those two conversations usually collapse into one and are misused as excuses for one another. This is a country of complexities that deeply scar our reality throughout years of settlement, resistances, wars, terror attacks and more. All take their toll on our spirits, sensibility and morals.
Homer, in 800 BC said: “The outcome of the war is in our hands; the outcome of words is in the council”. I say: The outcome of the war is in our words, as they shape our reality.
Guest Post by Maayan Cohen