27 December 2010

Gideon Levy on racism and xenophobia in Israel

In the 2 December 2010 edition of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, under the headline Spreading racism and xenophobia, columnist Gideon Levy wrote that the national intimidation campaign against foreigners must be stopped from the top down.

He begins:

The disease is malignant and metastatic, spreading with alarming speed. From Safed to Eilat, through Tiberias and Bnei Brak, one city after another is declaring: I am racist.

Renting apartments to Arab students is forbidden in Safed and Tiberias, migrant workers are being thrown out of their apartments in Bnei Brak, where their electricity and water is cut off as well. In Eilat, "black market labor" isn't wanted. This is no longer just the bad old hatred of Arabs, in the name of fear and security; it's now become distilled, violent xenophobia as well.

A stormy silence hovers all around. There is no government in Israel, no one to explain who those Arab students are and what rights they are entitled to, or who those Africans are, who we're so eager to hunt down and drive the hell out.

In the state comprised of refugees and survivors, humanity has come to an end. The public discourse on the fate of the aliens focuses only on evil solutions, each one more monstrous than the next. One says let's build a fence, the other says let's construct a massive prison compound, a third says deport them immediately - or at least eventually.

Listen to the leaders, not one of them has a single word of compassion for these people. Nothing. The fact that they are human beings, and ones in distress, has been forgotten. It is not even a consideration.

Read the full op-ed here.

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