11 June 2013

A lame answer to lame accusations

First of all, a few words about the case that started the saga:

A Jaffa school teacher complained that Superland Rishon Lezion prevented him from buying tickets for Arab students, a complaint which was followed by the amusement park's management admission that the park is open to Jewish schools on certain days and Arab schools on other days. The park management released another statement on its Facebook page Thursday morning, announcing that the policy, which provoked fierce public criticism, will be reexamined.
You can beef up on details of this sorry and, indeed, racist case, if you want, there is more in the article. Maybe it is worth to add that the response of the Israeli Jewish population to the story was quite uniform. The very few that somehow sympathized with Superland management were too few to even notice.

The Israeli Arab's response to the case was pretty uniform too. Here is one:
The headlines cry out, "Racism." The Arabs shout, "Apartheid." The Jews respond, "It's only a handful." And the majority click their tongues and complain. Are you surprised by what happened at the Superland? Really?! Because I was really not surprised. And no, not because I'm an Arab, but because I'm a concerned Israeli citizen in a country which refuses to admit that racism is already flowing through its veins and in the educational values it instills to its children.
To let you feel the ire of the Arab citizens, here is another one, more extreme:
This column will not discuss the saga surrounding the Superland affair, because it's neither interesting nor important. Indeed, there are times when the obvious must be explained, for example that the air we breathe in this country is racist. But making its way to roller coasters and water games? That's enough!

Expressions of racism and hatred have become part of the landscape long ago. It's not a cliché. Someone is making certain to institutionalize racism and design the racist landscape. This someone is called the government. It seems that in Israel's governments, there is at least a basic law for every problem. These laws escort citizens everywhere, to every corner of our lives.
I am not going to argue with the authors of these articles, this is not the purpose of the post. Just, maybe, to give the authors some food for thought, I'll mention one measure that may clean up the air quite a bit: maybe you should all together decide to let the Jews to go up to the Temple Mount? No, I don't want to imply that the refusal to let Jews in is racist, but all in all, you know...

Then I found an answer to the complaints in the same place, Ynet. It is written by Dan Calic, a writer, history student and speaker, titled 'Racism' or extinction and subtitled
Most Arab citizens have it pretty good; prefer living in Israel than in any Arab country
The first part of the article is dedicated to proof of the fact that "most Arab citizens have it pretty good" (why "most" and not all is not clear, the author's attention didn't suffice to cover this detail). I am going to present in abbreviated form the main points of the proof:
  • Israel is located in the center of the Middle East. This region is comprised of 22 Arab countries, which cover over five million square miles... Check.
  • The Jews and Israel have been under constant threat of annihilation since the day independence was declared in May 1948. Check.
  • Within Israel itself, slightly over 20% of the population is Arab. They enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. They vote, own homes... Check.
  • The majority of Arab-Israeli citizens will tell you they have it pretty good, and would prefer living in Israel than in an Arab country.... Check
I am not sure that I understand how the first two bullets strengthen the point that the author intends to make - the one about the Arab citizens having it pretty good. But I'll let it go. Because now Dan Calic asks the big question: "So why all the talk of racism?" And immediately answers it:
It seems the problem is pretty easy to identify. The basis for the complaints can be based on only one thing: Jews are the majority and want to remain the majority.
And he chooses to strengthen the message by the most interesting argument of all:
They should be thankful for the right to speak out without the police banging down their door and dragging them off to a dark jail cell to be held without trial.
This after banging on about how wonderful our democracy is. Strange that...does Dan Calic hint that the said Arab citizens should stay happy, unless they want their sleep being disturbed by police banging down doors?

But all this is fun and games, after all: what I didn't see is a single sentence, nay - a single word that addresses the undoubtedly true case of racism at Superland and other cases of wanton display of racism in all its forms.

Indeed, how does the fact that the Israeli Arabs are having it better than, say, their brethren in West Bank or Gaza or Jordan population, invalidate the racism in the Superland case? Or the attack on Arab workers in the Jerusalem mall? Or the car burnings, defacement of mosques (and churches too, by the way) by the unhinged hooligans of the "Price Tag"?

To answer the reader: no, I don't think that Israel is more (or less) racist than any other democratic country on the globe. But I also think that each sorry and shameful case of racism should be addressed, treated and not swept under the carpet as Dan Calic so awkwardly attempted to do in this lame article.