Text size

Racism against Israel's Arab citizens has dramatically increased in the past year, including a 26 percent rise in anti-Arab incidents, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel's annual report.

Author Sami Michael, the association's president, said upon the release of the report that racism was so rife it was damaging civil liberty in Israel.

"Israeli society is reaching new heights of racism that damages freedom ofexpression and privacy," Michael said. The publication coincides with Human Rights Week, which begins Sunday.

"We are a society under supervision under a democratic regime whose institutions are being undermined and which confers a different status to residents in the center of the country and in the periphery," Michael said.

The number of Jews expressing feelings of hatred toward Arabs has doubled, the report stated.

According to the June 2007 Democracy Index of the Israel Democracy Institute, for example, only half the public believes that Jews and Arabs must have full equal rights.

Among Jewish respondents, 55 percent support the idea that the state should encourage Arab emigration from Israel and 78 percent oppose the inclusion of Arab political parties in the government. According to a Haifa University study, 74 percent of Jewish youths in Israel think that Arabs are "unclean."

The ACRI says that bills introduced in the Knesset contribute to delegitimize the country's Arab citizens, such as ones that would link the right to vote and receive state allowances to military or national service.

They also include bills that require ministers and MKs to swear allegiance to a Jewish state and those that set aside 13 percent of all state lands owned by the Jewish National Fund for Jews only.

"Arab citizens are frequently subject to ridicule at the airports," the report states.

It says that Arab citizens "are subject to 'racial profiling' that classifies them as a security threat. The government also threatens the freedom of expression of Arab journalists by brandishing the whip of economic boycott and ending the publication of government announcements in newspapers that criticize its policy."

Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh said that the report "did not take us by surprise and neither should anyone be surprised by it. Its results are the natural consequence of a racist campaign led by political and military leaders, as well as the result of the anti-Arab racist policies implemented by consecutive governments."