This is an important point that is very rarely made in the media. In this 2000 interview, Phyllis Bennis, head of the Middle East Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., points out the racism inherent in the way Israeli democracy is run. That is, if we just look at the Arab Israeli population and not even those living in the occupied territories. I personally find it amazing that people who would die to defend the separation of Church and State in the US are often willing to uncritically support such a system, and I am also convinced that there will never be peace in the Middle East until it is changed. This was made clear in the recent post (see below) in which Barak stated his intention to “encourage” Arab Israli’s to become citizens of the non-existant Palestinian state.
“All Israeli citizens, including Palestinians, have the right to vote in elections for members of the Knesset (parliament) and for the prime minister. But not all rights are citizenship rights. Other rights are defined as nationality rights, and are reserved for Jews only. If you are a Jew, you have exclusive use of land, privileged access to private and public employment, special educational loans, home mortgages, preferences for admission to universities, and many other things. Many other special privileges are reserved for those who have served in the Israeli military. And military service is compulsory for all Jews (male and female), except for the ultra-Orthodox who get the same privileges as other Jews, but excludes Palestinians, who do not.
Over 80 percent of the land within Israel that was once owned by Palestinians has been confiscated. All told, 93 percent of Israel’s land can only be leased or owned by Jews or Jewish agencies. Moreover, despite Israel’s booming economy, Palestinian unemployment is skyrocketing — Adalah says it is about 40 percent. In 1996 twice as many Arab citizens (28.3 percent) as Jewish citizens (14.4 percent) lived below the poverty line. Less than five percent of government employees are Arab. And eighty percent of all student drop-outs are Arab.”