Photo: Hagai Aharon
Tibi concerned
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Arab MK: Israel world's most racist state

Israeli Arab Knesset members slam results of Israel Democracy Institute's survey showing 62 percent of Israelis want to encourage Arab emigration; MK el-Sana: Israel became world's most racist country

The "democracy index'" published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Tuesday revealed a grim picture: Israel has dropped to the 20th place out of 36 countries in terms of corruption.


However, the most prominent figure was that 62 percent of Israelis want the government to encourage local Arabs to leave the country.


Right-wing party Israel Our Home won a substantial electoral achievement in the March elections when it proposed a population exchange solution, including giving up territories populated by Israeli Arabs. Knesset Member Israel Hasson, who served as deputy Shin Bet chief and is now a member of Avigdor Lieberman's party, believes that "the Israeli public has gone too far."


"There is no doubt that the government's escape, capitulation and convergence policy caused a public feeling of a comprehensive disengagement and escape from anything, including the Arab public," Hasson said in response to the survey findings.


"Israel Our Home raised the banner of revoking the citizenship of residents who refuse to express their loyalty to the State, while the general public, which is subjected to an ongoing propaganda campaign in favor of unilateral moves, does not know where to stop anymore," he added.


"Instead of encouraging emigration, we have been suggesting for years now setting a borderline separating the populations without any need for emigration of populations," he said.


One person who does see a connection between Israel Our Home's success and the survey findings is MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al).


"Racism became the main characteristic of Israeli society a long time ago," he said. "Racism and fascism moved from impassioned marketplaces to the Knesset and the government seats. This is mainly expressed in the rise of an Israeli fascist party in the elections."


"There is no doubt that the ongoing occupation, dominating another people, and the confrontation have brought about the rise of racism in Israel. This scary phenomenon must be seriously dealt with by the government through education and with the help of the media," he added.


MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) called on Zionism to "conduct a profound self-examination and check where it failed."


He called to appoint an Arab deputy to the president and wondered "how the people that was supposed to serve as a shining example and a light unto the nations turned its country into the most racist state in the universe."


'Israeli Arabs can play key role'


United Arab List-Ta'al Chairman MK Ibrahim Sarsur, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was not surprised by the survey's findings.


"Unfortunately, I was not surprised at all by the survey. However, it is unfortunate and shocking that there is still such a large percentage among the Jewish people who do not believe in full partnership between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority," he said.


"The great majority has not reached the maturity and understanding that Israeli Arabs are an integral part of this land, even before the state's inception. The Israeli Arab public wants and can play a key role in building this country and bringing peace between Israelis and Palestinians – this is our duty and we will fight for it using any legitimate way," he added.


Talking to Ynet, Sarsur expressed his hope that the percentage of those who hold the aforementioned beliefs will gradually decrease, "otherwise the future of all of us does not bear good news."


"I am not sure Israel should build itself out of racism. The responsibility to repair the situation lies upon the Israeli government, which must apply a different kind of education for future generations – and the government is the one which has to turn us, the Israeli Arabs, from an enemy to a partner," he added.


Members of ruling party Kadima also expressed their concern over the survey's findings. MK Menahem Ben-Sasson, a history professor, said that "the attitude toward minorities is worrying and requires turning the attention and resources to understanding their life, culture and history as a step for developing mutual relations based on respect."


"The public's representatives must be attentive to criticism and work to repair the image and perception regarding minorities," he added.


פרסום ראשון: 05.09.06, 11:32
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