In Carmiel, Some Residents Are More Equal Than Others

Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv
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Carmiel is a predominantly Jewish city in an area with a large Arab population. Credit: Yaron Kaminsky
Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv

“For the first time, outside residents to be barred from Carmiel,” ran the headline of an item on the Ynet news website on the eve of Yom Kippur. What is that supposed to mean? Who is considered an “outside resident” and why? What happened? The sub-headline explains a bit more: “Out of concern that residents of the area would come to parks and light barbecues on the Jewish holy day, all of the entrances to Carmiel will be closed.” But why would “residents of the area” want to come to Carmiel, a city of about 50,000 in the middle of the Galilee, on a Jewish holy day? And for that matter, why not and why is it the concern of the police?

“On the eve of Yom Kippur, all four entrances to the city will be closed,” Ynet reported, “and the police have been instructed to enable access only to residents of the city, on presentation of [identity] cards and will try to hermetically prevent entry by outside residents due to the clash between the Hebrew calendar and the Muslim one, which has created a situation in which this year the Jewish Day of Atonement and the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice [Id al-Adha] fall on the same day.”

Ah, so its not foreigners, Japanese or Swedes, for example, who are being kept out of Carmiel on the Jewish holy day, but rather Arabs. In Jewish towns around the country, it should be noted, it is customary for Jews, both religious and secular, to refrain from taking to the streets in their cars on Yom Kippur and Israel’s Jewish cities are essentially free of cars for the holiday. On the other hand in Carmiel, Arab citizens of Israel are not to be allowed into a city in their own country. Why? Because the Jews have a holy day. In fact, they, the Muslims, also have a holiday on that same day, but it “clashes” (not to say “scores a hit”) on a Jewish holiday. Under such circumstances, it’s clear that the police need to act to protect the Jews. After all, aren’t we a Jewish state?

But wait a moment. What about Arab Muslims living in Carmiel in homes that they have purchased or rented? From the standpoint of the police, are they allowed to go to the parks in their city and barbecue on their holiday or is that too not allowed? Or perhaps there are no Arabs in Carmiel? Maybe that is also not allowed? No, that’s not possible. After all, we are not an apartheid state, as the anti-Semites claim. So it’s obvious that there are Arabs in Carmiel, but how many? Ten? Twenty? Two hundred? Two thousand?

The official Carmiel municipal website doesn’t note the presence of Arabs in the city at all. “Carmiel has about 50,000 residents, 60 percent of whom are long-time [Israelis] and native born and 40 percent immigrants,” the website says. On the other hand, a graph in the Hebrew Wikipedia article on the town reports that the population distribution in the town by “nationality and religion” as follows: Jews—84.2%; Muslim Arabs—0%; Christian Arabs—0%; Druze—0%; others—15.8%. So if the graph is correct, there is not a single Arab in Carmiel, but there are about 7,000 others, meaning Japanese, Swedes, Hindis, Native Americans, Mexicans and the like.

So what does Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics say? As of 2012, the agency says there are about 45,000 residents of Carmiel, including about 37,000 Jews and 1,100 Arabs. Wow. Finally somebody acknowledges the existence of Arabs in Carmiel. Great. But wait a minute. Altogether that comes out to about 38,000 residents. Where are the other 7,000? What are they? Who are they? Again, Swedes and Mexicans, or perhaps aliens?

The city of Carmiel, for those who were not born at the time or don’t remember, was built on land expropriated from Arab villages in the area using a regular Zionist fraudulent method—for security purposes (Firing Zone 9, as they called it). Now either they are not allowing Arabs from the area (known as “outside residents”) to live there or they don’t count or they are “only” not allowing them to celebrate their holidays there. And don’t mention apartheid. It’s not apartheid. It’s separation and those are two totally different things.

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