The 'Arabs Out’ Government

Israelis who support democracy, rule of law and basic human morality must fight the government policy of discrimination and exclusion of Arabs.

Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz Editorial

The graffiti on the walls and vandalism against cars that took place Tuesday in Abu Ghosh − which is not in the disputed West Bank but an Arab village near Jerusalem known for its coexistence with Jewish residents and visitors − follows dozens of similar acts committed since the beginning of the year.

The vandalism took place two days after the government decided not to classify those who commit “price tag” attacks against Arabs and their property as terrorists, but to make do with a softer designation of them as a “forbidden group.” This contravened the position of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the minister responsible for dealing with the problem, who presumably is most familiar with its seriousness and knows that it requires much tougher handling.

The government that made this decision, and the man who heads it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are conveying a message that price tag attacks are merely unpleasant and unsympathetic acts of youthful folly, at most “disturbing” or “offensive.” As if these acts are not crimes that smack of racism and with the potential to upset the fragile balance of coexistance between Jews and Arabs in the region, as Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said after the vandalism in Abu Ghosh.

When this decision joins the approval of a bill like the “Rights of Those Who Contribute to the State Law,” which passed in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, and other bills aimed at favoring Jewish citizens over Arab ones, the message delivered to the public, including to right-wing extremists, is that Arabs are “less equal” and can be attacked.

Automatic condemnations of price tag operations from across the political spectrum are nothing but meaningless lip service as long as discrimination against Arabs seems en route to becoming official policy, and harming them, even if not physically, becomes permissible as a systematic program.

Israelis who see themselves as supporters of democracy, the rule of law and basic principles of human morality, must seek to change this situation. It must not only condemn the price tag attacks, which are attributed to a handful of lunatic thugs, and fight them; they must also fight the policy of discrimination and exclusion of Arabs being promoted by the Netanyahu government. This is a government whose actions are aimed at realizing the slogan sprayed on the walls of Abu Ghosh: “Arabs out.”

Anti-Arab graffiti, reading 'Arabs out,' sprayed in Abu Ghosh on June 19, 2013.Credit: Emil Salman

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