The year 2008 saw a sharp rise in racist incidents against Arabs in Israel, the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel reported Saturday, estimating the increase at tenfold those recorded in 2007.
The dubious honor of leading the chart this year was given to Jerusalem, closely followed by Akko. The center chose the later as the setting for the conference where the new data was presented.
"What we are witnessing is a moral collapse, and it's time to shout out against racism," said Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center. "The data is especially worrying in regards to civilian violence, and definitely attests (to the fact that) a Knesset member's extremist message permeats and leads to the involvement of more and more citizens."
A total of 32 violent incidents were recorded in Jerusalem alone in 2008, most of them occurring during soccer matches. Twenty-two such incidents were recorded in Akko. Tel Aviv, in third place, witnessed 13 racist incidents according to the center.
The Mossawa Center's report states that "if not for the elections and the war in Gaza, we would be witnessing a sharp decline in data from the soccer field", thereby relating most of the racist incidents occurring in 2008 to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which began in late December of that year.
"These attacks are not the hand of fate, but a direct result of incitement against the Arab citizens of this country by religious, public, and elected officials," the report says.
Among the examples listed are the Akko Riots,
the case of an Arab youth who was assaulted in Tiberias,
and the stabbing
of an Arab man in Meah Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem by a Jewish ultra-Orthodox man.
The report also says that since the year 2000, 42 Arab citizens have been killed by Israeli security forces. The number includes the 13 Arabs killed during the October Riots.
In addition, an entire chapter of the center's report is dedicated to violence occurring during soccer matches. "This chapter shows without a doubt that when there are attempts to downsize violence, it has an effect," the chapter concludes.