The most amazing thing about the wave of murders in recent weeks has been the collective Israeli stupefaction at the discovery of violence in our midst. Once again we have displayed our talent for excluding from the discourse the daily violence inherent in our continued domination over the Palestinians and their land.
Even when there are no Palestinian casualties and fatalities at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces, there is no letup in the everyday bullying by the occupation regime. Many Israelis are complicit in every travel restriction and expropriation order, from the cabinet ministers responsible, to the jurists who legitimize and codify, to the officers who implement and the typists and translators. Every soldier who guards a Jewish settlement, every rabbi who serves it and every kindergarten teacher there is partner to the primal act of the established violence that built it on Palestinian land (public or private, that makes no difference). This is violence that replicates and reproduces at every moment, because the initial theft is still doing damage. The military judiciary system, which tries only Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, has an important role in the reproduction of violence.
All of a sudden, we can say “racism.” A shock wave has struck complacent Israeli society. A few dozen Ethiopian children were not accepted to religious schools in Petah Tikva. That is truly terrible, everyone tsked-tsked at the heart-rending picture of Aschalo Sama, a boy without a school. Even President Shimon Peres expressed shock. Everyone is permitted to be shocked; it is politically correct…
The case of the Petah Tikva pupils is the tip of the racism iceberg. Children engender special feelings; shameful revelations about the school system will always yield a scandal. But the very week the country was in a huff over the Ethiopians, Nir Hasson reported in Haaretz that Jerusalem invests NIS 577 a year in a pupil from East Jerusalem and NIS 2,372 in a pupil from West Jerusalem. Four times less, only because of the child’s ethnicity. That does not count here as racism. Neither does the fact that East Jerusalem lacks about 1,000 classrooms, only because its residents are Palestinian. No one howls against these revelations, no one is infuriated by them, including the president, who fights against racism.
Now that we can use the term “racism,” the time has come to admit our society is absolutely racist, that all its components are racist. The legal system, for example, is no less tainted than Petah Tikva’s Morasha school. In many cases there is one law for a Jew and another for an Arab. The Bank of Israel, a state institution no less than the Morasha school, with 900 employees, has always been “clean” of Arab employees except sometimes one or two. Some 70,000 Israeli citizens, all Arab of course, are living in unrecognized villages, without electricity or running water, without an access road and sometimes without a school. Why? Because they are Arabs. Every week at soccer matches we hear racist epithets and chants, the kind teams in Europe are severely penalized for. Here, the referees do not even bother reporting them.