Clashes between Arabs and Jews are recorded in many cities. One of the centers was the city of Lod, located 15 km from Tel Aviv. Like many Israeli cities, the majority (about 70%) are Jews, and the minority are Arabs. “The police shot and killed an Arab demonstrator in Lod,” said Ahmed Tabi, leader of the Arab TAAL (Arab Movement for Renewal) party and a member of the Israeli parliament. In Lod, the police imposed a curfew; on Thursday, the entrance to the city was blocked.
According to official data as of December 31, 2020, the population of Israel numbered 9.291 million people: 6.87 million Jews (73.9% of the population) and 1.956 million Arabs (21.1%), another 456 thousand – representatives of other nationalities. In 2020, 176 thousand children were born – 73% of Jewish mothers, 23.4% of Arab mothers.
Clashes also took place in the port city of Akko. On Tuesday, a police station was set on fire, and on Thursday several dozen police marched through the city to inspect what had happened, writes The New York Times. In the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, a large crowd of Israeli nationalists pulled a man out of a car, believing he was an Arab, and beat him until he passed out, AFP cites evidence. There were also broken windows in an ice cream shop owned by Arabs.
Than the Arab population is dissatisfied
“To understand what’s going on between Israel and the Palestinians, one must first understand the big picture. The reasons for the current aggravation can only be understood if one knows the context of the continuing occupation under which the Palestinians live, the constant denial of their rights to freedom and self-determination, and systematic humiliation. In Israel, they face unequal treatment of themselves, ”says Daniel Levy, an expert at the Valdai Discussion Club and President of the US / Middle East Project (USMEP). In his opinion, the participation of the Jewish population in the clashes, which feels that the entire force of the state machine is on their side, is especially alarming.
Erdogan announced that Israel has crossed all borders
In 2018, the Israeli parliament (there is no Constitution in the country) adopted a law “On the Jewish character of the state”, which states that the exercise of the right to national self-determination in it belongs exclusively to the Jewish people. In accordance with this law, Hebrew remained the only state language. The Arabic language, as indicated, enjoys a special status, but the procedure for its use had to be determined in a separate law.
Representatives of the UN, the US Department of State, the international human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as Israeli human rights organizations write about the systematically pursued discriminatory policy against the Arab population of Israel in their reports. In a report published in April this year, Human Rights Watch used the definition of “apartheid”. Israeli Prime Minister’s advisor Mark Regev called the accusations baseless and false, and the organization itself has long been known for its bias.
One of the reasons for the current aggravation was the waiting for the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court on the lawsuit to evict four Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah region of East Jerusalem since 1957. The quarter is located north of the Old Town, formed in the 13th century. The Jewish organization that filed the lawsuit referred to a 1970 law, according to which Palestinians who were on the lands of the eastern part of the city until 1948, as well as during the rule of Jordan (until 1967), must return homes and lands to Jews.
In January of this year, UN human rights expert Michael Link noted that over the past few months, Israel has adopted 16 orders to evict Palestinian families, and in two cases single mothers with children were left without the right to housing. Most of the evicted Palestinians have lived in their homes for decades, many as owners. “This appears to be part of a broader plan to evict Palestinian families to clear the way for new illegal Israeli settlements,” said Link, who has served as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 2016.
“We believe that one of the main goals is the formation of a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem, the creation of a situation that will legitimize the illegal annexation of this part of the city by Israel,” the special rapporteur noted (quotes from the UN website).
Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that in an effort to maintain its dominant position, the Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against the Palestinians. The authorities seek primarily to provide land to Jewish communities, driving the majority of Palestinians into densely populated areas. A policy has been introduced to neutralize what is officially called the demographic “threat” from the Palestinians, the report says. For example, in Jerusalem, the state plan for the development of the city, including its western and eastern parts, proceeds from the need to “confidently preserve the Jewish majority” and even gives the desired demographic proportions – 70% Jews and 30% Arabs.
Since 1967, the authorities have expropriated a third of the land in East Jerusalem that belonged to the Palestinians. In the eastern part of the city, they also practically do not issue permits for new construction to Palestinians, and in the majority they issue such permits to Jews, writes HRW.
How the living standards of Arabs and Jews differ
The Arab population also faces unequal access to social facilities, according to researchers at the Israeli organization Ir Amim. For example, in January 2016, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that it was necessary to build children’s playgrounds in two Arab districts, since there are two playgrounds for 60,000 inhabitants, although in Jewish districts the ratio is different – one playground per 1,000 people. In 2013, only 10% of the city’s budget went to projects in Palestinian areas, the organization also calculated, although Palestinians in the city make up 37% of the population. In total, 72% of Palestinian families in Jerusalem live below the poverty line, the figure among Jewish families is 26% (UN data). The total population of the city is about 1 million people.
Since 1967, when Israel gained control of East Jerusalem as a result of the Six Day War, Arab residents received permanent resident certificates, but did not automatically become Israeli citizens. They now have almost no representation in the city government and are mostly boycotting the elections.
The Arab population also complains about the different state of the schools. They differ not only in the condition of buildings and the degree of their equipment, but also in teaching methods. The education system in Israel is based on the principle of “separate but equal”, with different schools for the Arab and Jewish populations. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote in 2016, the system “remains separate, but not equal.” Thus, there are more students in Arab classes (in 2014, one Arab class had an average of 28 students, and a Jewish one – 26.8). The problem could be solved by building new classrooms and recruiting teachers, but fewer funds are allocated to Arab schools. For example, in 2013–2014, funding for one student from a Jewish family was 35–68% higher than from an Arab family.
Statistics on unemployment and earnings are also not in favor of the Arab population. So, on average, an unorthodox Jewish man earned 15 thousand shekels per month ($ 1 = 3.3 shekels), a woman – 9.9 thousand, an Arab man – 8.5 thousand, and an Arab woman – 5.7 thousand, such data was cited two years ago by the Jerusalem Post.
The Israeli government insists that since the state defines itself as both Jewish and democratic, it guarantees that the rights of non-Jewish citizens are respected. The Arab population enjoys full civil and political rights, including freedom of speech, religion and worship, Arab representatives have been elected to the Israeli parliament, the country’s Foreign Ministry said. At the same time, the state recognizes that “there are still problems in the field of integration of the Arab minority, in particular in the economic sphere”. These problems are similar to those faced by Western democracies, which are home to significant national minorities, insists the official Israel.