“In democracies, respecting rights isn’t a choice leaders make day-by-day, it is the reason they govern.” — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

“There’s only one country in the heart of the Middle East that has no tremors, no protests… That’s Israel. Because we’re the only one where we respect human rights. The only one that respects the rights of Arab citizens. Twenty percent of our population are Arabs. And they enjoy full civil rights in Israel. It’s the only place in this entire vast expanse where Arabs and Muslims enjoy complete freedom and complete equality before the law.” - Bibi Netanyahu on YouTube’s World View interview

Contrary to Bibi’s deluded utterances…

2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories

Israel is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with a population of approximately 7.7 million, including Israelis living in the occupied territories. Israel has no constitution, although a series of “Basic Laws” enumerate fundamental rights. Certain fundamental laws, orders, and regulations legally depend on the existence of a “State of Emergency,” which has been in effect since 1948. The 120-member, unicameral Knesset has the power to dissolve the government and mandate elections. The February 2009 elections for the Knesset were considered free and fair. They resulted in a coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli security forces reported to civilian authorities. (An annex to this report covers human rights in the occupied territories. This report deals with human rights in Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.)

Principal human rights problems were institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (see annex), non-Orthodox Jews, and other religious groups; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; and societal discrimination and domestic violence against women, particularly in Bedouin society. While trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution decreased in recent years, trafficking for the purpose of labor remained a serious problem, as did abuse of foreign workers and societal discrimination and incitement against asylum seekers.

As the Jewish daily Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis wrote about the report…

Citing outside sources in some instances, the report states that:

• Some foreign workers were forced to live in conditions “that constituted involuntary servitude.”

• Laws regarding employment conditions were not enforced for foreign workers.

• The board that processes applications for asylum by refugees recommended granting asylum in just three of 3,211 cases before it between 2008 and 2009.

• Refugees living in Israel were targeted in violent attacks, including a beating in December of three young daughters of African refugees in Tel Aviv.

• Government officials referred routinely to asylum seekers as “infiltrators” in public statements in an atmosphere of increasing public protest against refugees. [In a speech last January, subsequent to the period the report covers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, referring to asylum seekers, “The infiltrators conquered Eilat and Arad, and they are conquering Tel Aviv from north to south.”]

• Spending on public education for Arab children was substantially lower than for Jewish children. The average Arab classroom had four more students than the average Jewish classroom.

• Only 70 students from the West Bank may attend graduate school in Israel at any one time.

• Arab citizens “regularly complained of discrimination and degrading treatment” at airports.

• Despite a law requiring representation of minorities in the civil service, the numbers of Arab citizens in civil service jobs were disproportionately low.

• The unrecognized Bedouin town of al-Arakib was demolished eight times during 2010 in what advocacy groups said was an expropriation of land that historically belonged to the clan that lived there.

As 972+’s Joseph Dana recently wrote…

Racist protest in Tel Aviv targets refugees and migrants

Racism in Israel is nothing new. There is racism against Palestinians, against Arabs, against non-Jews. There is racism between Jews from Europe and Jews from Arab countries. In our racism, we are no different from many other Western countries. However, the past year in Israel has seen an a significant increase in the number of racially motivated attacks on foreign workers and Palestinians by gangs of Jewish nationalists workers and Palestinians who seek to ‘cleanse Israel of non Jewish and dangerous elements.’ The problem is reaching endemic proportions as lawmakers have largely remained silent and the crimes continue unabated.

David Sheen, an Israeli journalist with Haaretz, has been quietly documenting the rise of racism in Tel Aviv. His latest video (above) is a look into the ugly work of nationalism which is the foundation of the current spike in racist attacks. In the video, Sheen attends a rally of Jewish nationalists who seek to expel foreign infiltrators ‘that are taking over the southern part of Tel Aviv.’ The interviews that he conducts on the street show a disturbed society in crisis.

Now, if it walks like a duck…

*gah*