At least somebody in Israel acknowledges the profound legal discrimination between Jews and Arabs in the country:
An Israeli judge made an historic ruling last week when he decided that an Arab teenager needed “protection” from the justice system and ordered that he not be convicted despite being found guilty of throwing stones at a police car during a protest against Israel’s attack last winter on Gaza.
Prosecutors had demanded that the juvenile, a 17-year-old from Nazareth in northern Israel, be convicted of endangering a vehicle on the road, a charge that carries a punishment of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, as a way to deter other members of Israel’s Arab minority from committing similar offences.
But Judge Yuval Shadmi said discrimination in the Israeli legal system’s treatment of Jewish and Arab minors, particularly in cases of what he called “ideologically motivated” offences, was “common knowledge”.
In the verdict, he wrote: “I will say that the state is not authorised to caress with one hand the Jewish ‘ideological’ felons, and flog with its other hand the Arab ‘ideological’ felons.”
He referred in particular to the lenient treatment by the police and courts both of Jewish settler youths who have attacked soldiers in the West Bank and who violently resisted the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and of religious extremists who have spent many months battling police to prevent the opening of a car park on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.
Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal group for Israel’s 1.3 million-strong Arab minority, said the ruling was the first time a judge in a criminal court had ackowledged that the state pursued a policy of systematic discrimination in demanding harsher punishments for Arab citizens.
“We have known this for a long time, but it has been something very hard for us to prove to the court’s satisfaction,” she said. “Now we have a legal precedent that we can use to appeal against convictions in similar cases.”