During the most recent round of fighting in Gaza, the army forbade contractors to send Arab drivers for deliveries to military bases, although they were all Israeli citizens, some of whom had served in the Israel Defense Forces (as reported in Sunday’s Haaretz).
Israel has thus proven yet again that MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) was accurate when he said that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state – Jewish for the Arabs and a democracy for Jews.
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Discrimination against Arabs, which exists at various levels at all times and in all areas of life here, breaks records during times of combat. The hidden racism becomes open and blatant, and the democratic illusion of equality before the law irrespective of religion, ethnic background and gender is smashed to smithereens.
According to security sources, the Operations War Room of the technology and logistics branch had ordered the sweeping ban. With the start of the operation the IDF contacted the companies that are contracted as Defense Ministry suppliers of transport, infrastructure work and supplies and made orders from them.
But these orders included an instruction that forbade the employment of “minorities” in fulfilling these orders. When the cannons are rumbling the democratic muses fall silent, and all Arabs are considered a fifth column, even those who provide the army with food.
But the shameful story doesn’t end there. To the crimes of racism and discrimination the IDF added the sin of incitement. The story about the hundreds of Arab truck drivers who did not show up for work during Operation Guardian of the Walls was first published in Yedioth Ahronoth two weeks ago. The report portrayed the drivers as the ones who refused to come to work because of the clashes in the mixed Jewish-Arab cities, and not as victims of the army’s racial profiling.
The Yedioth story even quoted sources who said that the drivers’ refusal to work caused “grave damage to the operational capacity” of the army, and “disrupted a ruse operation” meant to destroy Hamas tunnels.
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This was a base libel. Documents testifying to the contacts between the army representatives and the civilian companies, obtained by Haaretz, confirm that the drivers’ absence did not stem from an unwillingness to work, but from the army’s refusal to allow them to work. The military, it turns out, allowed publication of the false claims because they saw it as an opportunity to improve their position in talks with the Finance Ministry, enabling them to demand more money for drivers and trucks. In other words, it was a PR stunt conducted at the Arabs’ expense.
As usual, the IDF Spokesman said that the matter was being investigated and conclusions would be drawn. But the only conclusion to be drawn from this story is that Israel is moving even further from basic democratic values like equality before the law.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.