The current Knesset is the most racist Knesset since the establishment of the State, according to the Mossawa Center's annual report on racism published Sunday. The report, published in honor of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination being marked Sunday, reveals a 75% increase in discriminatory and racist bills submitted to the Knesset in the past year.
According to the report, 11 bills deemed "discriminatory and racist" were placed on the legislature's table in 2007, while 12 such bills were initiated in 2008. However, in 2009 a full 21 problematic bills were discussed in the Knesset.
The Mossawa Center asserted that this is a worrisome trend and estimate that such bills will only increase if the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs does not take immediate action against the phenomenon.
"A Knesset so active in discriminatory and racist bills against Arab citizens of the State has never been witnessed," said the report's authors, Lizi Sagi and Attorney Nidal Ottman.
"The 18th Knesset is affected by elected officials acting openly to damage Arabs' civil rights," added Mossawa Center's Director Jafar Farah. "Knesset members with extremist opinions are applying their world views with almost no disturbance and do not encounter enough opposition. They promote discriminatory and racist legislation that paints Arab citizens of the State of Israel as a demographic threat."
The report lists the outstanding bills in that were on the public agenda throughout the year:
- Year imprisonment
to anyone who denies the existence of the State of Israel
as a Jewish and democratic country – initiated by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi)
- Academic scholarships for soldiers who served in combat units – initiated by MK Robert Tiviaev (Yisrael Beiteinu)
and MK Arieh Eldad (National Union)
- Amendment of the Jerusalem Law stipulating that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people
– initiated by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) and MK Arieh Eldad (National Union)
- Amendment of the Citizenship Law stipulating that a person who committed an act that violated loyalty to the State of Israel may have his citizenship revoked by the Interior Minister
– initiated by MKs David Azoulay and Avraham Michaeli (Shas)
- Nakba Law,
which makes it possible to revoke government funding for organizations acting "against the principles of the State" – initiated by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu) and passed in its first reading
- Loyalty bill, which suggested amending the Citizenship Law to condition citizenship on a declaration of loyalty to the State – initiated by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu). The bill was knocked down
in the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs.
The bills were initiated by all parties from the center and the Right – Likud, National Union, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, and even Kadima. The report's authors also mentioned Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz's initiative to make English and Arabic transliterations of Hebrew terms on all traffic signs.
The UN voted in 1966 to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination following the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa in which 69 black protesters were shot dead by the police while demonstrating against a law requiring all black adults above the age of 16 to carry identification cards signed by the police or their employers allowing them to move about without restrictions.
The Mossawa Center warned on Sunday: "We have already witnessed the killing of Arab citizens at the hands of the police in October 2000. If this racist trend continues, what happened in Sharpeville will be but a small blood bath compared to what will happen here."