HRA releases "Discrimination Diary"

HRA releases "Discrimination Diary"

The population of the State of Israel includes a large number of people who are Palestinian Arabs in terms of their nationhood, and at the same time are citizens of the Jewish state. These people have a strong affinity to their Palestinian Arab nationhood, and a particularly strong sense of identification with the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, but they are also attached to their Israeli citizenship. These are the “Palestinian citizens of Israel” – a community that comprises some 20 percent of the citizens of Israel.

Due to the Israeli-Arab conflict in general, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, the Palestinian citizens of Israel face a unique situation. As they go about their everyday lives, they must maintain an internal balance between their national identity as Palestinian Arabs and their civil identity as Israeli citizens. Most Palestinian Arabs find that these two identities are constantly in conflict on the external and internal levels. The external conflict influences and shapes the internal conflict.

The State of Israel defines itself as a “Jewish state,” i.e. as the state of the Jewish people. At the same time, the norms it has established for itself as a “democratic state” require it to act in an egalitarian manner towards its Palestinian citizens. Most of the Jewish citizens of Israel do not see any contradiction between the two sides of this double-edged definition – “Jewish” and “democratic.” Neither do they believe that there is any contradiction between these definitions and the obligation to act in an egalitarian manner toward the Palestinian citizens.

Although the Palestinians in Israel are “citizens” in terms of their official definition, it is no exaggeration to state that they are second-class citizens. The Palestinian citizens of Israel face institutional and individual discrimination from official institutions and bodies and from Jewish citizens. The essential reason for this discrimination is the national origin of the Palestinian citizens.

Although this discrimination has been discussed and documented extensively, as will continue to be the case, it nevertheless remains hidden and camouflaged from many observers. Careful attention is needed in order to expose and reveal this discrimination. From the perspective of the Palestinian citizens themselves, this discrimination is systematic, and indeed inherent in the very definition of Israel as a Jewish state. The Jewish citizens (or, at least, a majority thereof) do not believe that such discrimination exists and feel that the claims of the Palestinian citizens in this respect are completely groundless. As far as the international community is concerned, very little is known in most circles about the existence of Palestinian citizens in the State of Israel, and still less about the discrimination they face.

In an effort to change this situation, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) has decided to publish a Discrimination Diary in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. The Discrimination Diary will publish the personal stories of Palestinian citizens who have experienced institutional and individual discrimination in their daily lives. HRA hopes that the Discrimination Diary will raise public awareness of discrimination against the Palestinian citizens and expose the ways in which this discrimination operates. We believe that revealing and raising awareness of discrimination is an important step toward its elimination. 

We are pleased to attach the first article in the Discrimination Diary series. The article is entitled Little Arafat, and tells the story of Arafat Wahidi, an eighteen-month old Arab child from the Jawarish neighborhood of Ramle. Arafat’s father wanted to place his son in a Jewish crèche. The article describes his humiliating experiences while searching for a crèche, after each place he visited found “objective” pretexts for refusing to accept Arafat, due only to his Arab identity and his “suspicious” name (the same as that of the late Yasser Arafat).

HRA hopes that the Discrimination Diary will reach widening circles of individuals, enhancing their understanding of what really happens in Israel. We hope the readers will come to realize that different communities and populations can only live together on this piece of land if the rights of all individuals and groups are respected.

Please click on the link on the right column to read the article.