Study: Israel's social protests caused drop in racist incidents against Arabs
Coalition against Racism in Israel says last summer's social unrest caused Israel's various ethnic groups to unite against what they said was increased institutional discrimination.
Incidents of racism and intolerance between across Israeli ethnic groups are on the decline, a new report published on Monday concluded.
According to data compiled by the Coalition against Racism in Israel, is composed of Jewish and Arab human rights groups, the number of reported incidences of racism committed by Jewish Israelis against Arab Israelis fell from 91 in 2009 and 68 in 2010 to only 20 in 2011.
Nidal Othman, who heads the coalition, said the drop was directly related to the social protest movement that swept the country last summer, which, he said, created an atmosphere of solidarity between minority groups, including Arabs, Ethiopian Jews and Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent.
On the other hand, the report found an increase in acts of racism by state institutions, businesses, and private and public organizations against the same groups. According to the report, there were 155 such incidents last year, including 35 Knesset bills which aimed to restrict the freedom of Arab citizens of Israel, foreign workers or refugees and some 22 cases of home demolitions, 15 of them in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev.
The report also noted an escalation in the intensity of attacks against religious groups, largely due to the escalation from mostly verbal slurs to vandalism and arson against houses of worship.
"The government led by Netanyahu is dragging most of the public toward a socially and politically explosive situation, which could lead to minority groups, who are the object of discrimination, taking their frustration to the streets," said Nidal.
"The refusal of landlords to rent apartments to Arabs, the demolition of Arab homes by the government, the segregation of Ethiopian students, the moves to expel [African] refugees, the eviction of homeless people, mostly Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent, from tent camps – could all together lead to a real collective explosion of rage," he added.
The coalition, in partnership with other groups and MKs, is planning to launch a campaign against racism in Israel on Tuesday, under the banner "Racism against all of us, all of us against racism." The campaign opened with a conference on Tuesday and will include demonstrations in front of the Prime Minister's Residence.
The coalition noted that its campaign would represent the first time that all the various groups that suffer from racism in Israel would unite against government discrimination, instead of struggling separately for narrow sectarian grievances.
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