Monday, January 29, 2007

Israeli Racism

Israel's Arab problem hits home |

Here's something, just fastfood for thought while to stall on writing the intro to my book. An Arab Israeli, with the best possible qualifications, was turned down from Israeli pilot training because he was an Arab.

Please tell me, someone out there, if you are out there, why Israel is able to get away with this blatent racism. I'm not even talking about any right of return for Palestineans who were displaced and are now living in refugee camps outside of Israeli territory. I'm talking about a million Arabs who are Israeli citizens.

Yes I know it isn't, as it were, racial racism because, yes I know the many Israelis are now Jews from the middle east who are brown, and that some are Jews from Ethiopia who are black. But racism in the relevant sense doesn't necessarily track skin color: it's a matter of discriminating against people on the basis of ancestry or assignment to some kinship group--not necessarily a "visible minority." You would think these Israelis would know about that--the Holocaust was, after all, strictly white on white genocide. "Aryans" had to do geneology to prove who they were and Jews had to wear yellow stars so that they could be identified. And, I'm sorry to be cynical here, but Americans and others were especially upset about this particular genocide because it was white people who were getting killed. In fact, it was in many cases white middle class people who were getting killed.

Maybe it bothers me because I'm just a crude Consequentialist. I don't care about backward-looking considerations or about compensation for past injustices. The Jews may have had a lousy deal since 70 AD culminating in the Holocaust but that doesn't buy a free pass for this kind of racism. BAD, BAD, BAD--as I tell my lab when he gets up on the couch. Not that he listens. He gets down as soon as he hears me coming down the stairs in the morning, rolls his eyes upward so you can see the whites at the bottom and puts back his floppy ears. I still know what he's up to.

One of the few passages I remember from the OT is Moses giving the Israelites a pep talk just after they get out of Egypt. Moses says, "Remember you were sojourners in the land of Egypt, and the Egyptians treated you harshly so..." So? There are two ways to go with this: (1) Turnabout is fair play--this is a fraternity ititiation. You got trashed so now you can trash them! or (2) You know what it felt like so don't do it to other people.

Moses went with (2).


Sophia said...

Racism is pervasive in Israeli society and it is not just against israeli Arabs. Israeli Arabs are at the end of the racism scale but it starts right away when you are a non Ashkenazi jew. There is racism against Sephardi Jews, against Russian jews, against Ethipian Jews, etc...
Israeli foreign minister said once in Australia, and I can find the quote, that israeli are europeans, you know caucasians, even though Israel was geographically located in Asia.

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