racism

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I was in two minds about publishing this video as I don’t want to suggest that the people demonstrating and speaking are in any way typical of Israeli citizens, let alone of Jews around the world. There are violent and racist individuals like this in every society, and when they band together they become particularly obnoxious.

So why publish this video? Because at the centre of this protest is a member of the Israeli Parliament, and this puts an entirely different spin on the event!

I have often said that racism can infect a society at three different levels.

  1. Racism happens but it is not tolerated by the law or by the culture.
  2. Racial discrimination is accepted by the culture but remains against the law.
  3. Racism is embodied in law.

Nazi Germany if the most obvious and the most terrible example of this slide into communal perversion, but no country is immune from this sort of disease, and what this video suggests is that racial violence is now being officially sanctioned in Israel!

It would be a very positive gesture if the Israeli government arrested Michael Ben-Ari and prosecuted him for hate speech. The sight of a member of the government inciting people to racial violence is not something that should ever be shrugged off!

This protest took place one day into the start of the latest bombardment of Gaza.

Father Dave

Can’t view the video? Try this link.

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This is depressing! Admittedly, the survey was designed by peace and civil-rights activists, and the results are already being challenged (see article). Even so, the stats are distrubing, and I’ve highlighted a few of them!

The most depressing aspect of this analysis, in my view, is that the degree of support for apartheid evidenced in the survey seems to be in direct proportion to the respondent’s religiosity! In other words, the more religious you are, the more racist! What a horrible irony!

Father Dave

source: Haaretz

Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel 

Gideon Levy 

October 23, 2012 

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank. A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.  

The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees.  

The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs. 

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank. 

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.” 

Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements. 

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object. 

The survey distinguishes among the various communities in Israeli society – secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent ) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer. 

The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group – 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces. 

The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of the Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered “don’t know” in the “Russian” community was higher than in any other. 

The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent ) and the secular Israelis the lowest – only 63 percent. On average, 69 percent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel. 

Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist – 68 percent of them would not mind having Arab neighbors in their apartment building, 73 percent would not mind Arab students in their children’s class and 50 percent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces. 

The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories

The survey conductors say perhaps the term “apartheid” was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as “apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an “apartheid state” and said “there’s no apartheid at all.” 

In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know. 

The “Russians,” as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them – 35 percent – believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid “in a few fields” or “in many fields,” while 11 percent don’t know.

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This story provides a lovely balance to the usual news of tragedy, racism and violence that (sadly) dominates this blog.

The positive light it sheds on San Francisco also provides an encouraging balance to the depressing news that came through earlier this month – that California has made criticism of the government of Israel illegal, at least in its Universities!

No wonder San Francisco is my favourite place on the US West Coast!

Father Dave

San Francisco cable car

From here to Palestine

by Zahir Janmohamed

Oct. 16, 2012

source: www.sfbg.com…

Of the many things I adore about San Francisco, one of them is that the word “Palestine” is not treated like Voldermort’s name, the one that dare not be uttered. You can say you are Palestinian here and no one will freak out. San Franciscans, most of them at least, will not tell you — as Newt Gringrich did — that your culture is invented, or that your identity (or your struggle) is not a valued part of the tapestry of this city.

I am not used to this. I spent the past nine years living in Washington DC, where I became accustomed to meeting Arab shop owners who dodged questions about their country of origin. Some feared a backlash from customers. Others worried about government harassment and eavesdropping. One Yemeni shopkeeper near the Pentagon even went as far as creating to-go boxes with Americans flags imprinted on them, the words “we are proud of you” under each flag. Unfortunately, it’s like this now in many cities in the US, where to be Arab, Iranian or South Asian is to abdicate your ethnic identity, to pretend it’s just not there.

That’s not exactly true in San Francisco. This city isn’t perfect and it has its own ugly past and current struggles with racial integration — but San Francisco at least tries to inculcate its motto on all who are lucky enough to live here: just be who you are. You can fly a Palestinian flag outside your business and chances are you may even attract more customers because of it. And if you show up to work wearing a red, white and blue covered hijab or turban in the city, people may very well laugh at you.

Last week I walked through the Mission district interviewing Palestinian American business owners. On Mission Street, I saw my friend Ashraf sitting on a bar stool at the café he opened two years ago. The San Francisco born Palestinian-American, whose parents were born outside of Jerusalem, wore an SF Giants baseball cap and adjusted it often during our meeting, revealing a full head of hair already graying at the age of 34.

Ashraf remembers car trips with his parents to the Samiramis Grocery just down Mission Street. Samir Khoury, a Palestinian Christian from Ramallah who came to San Francisco in 1953, opened the iconic grocery store in 1972. For the longest time it was the only place where Ashraf’s family could buy zaatar or rent Egyptian movies. It always had everything we had back home, Ashraf says.

Ashraf points out that within a small radius of his cafe, there are a now number of Palestinian owned businesses, including Philz Coffee and Bi-Rite Creamery.

“But no one really knows these are Palestinian owned businesses,” Ashraf says. “And even if they found out, no one would really care.”

I tell Ashraf about a sandwich shop I used to visit in Washington DC where the owner insisted on telling everyone that he was Jordanian. One day the owner pulled me aside and confessed he was really Palestinian from Bethlehem but told people he was Jordanian because he thought it “sounded better.”

When Ashraf hears this he laughs. “It’s not like that here,” he says. “In San Francisco you don’t have to play that act.”

Zahir Janmohamed is a San Francisco writer and former Congressional aide