A conference to raise the awareness of and battle against racism in Israel was held on Tuesday, March 21, in the Knesset and was attended by MKs, officials from the education system, the police and NGOs.
The gathering was organized by the head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, MK Aida Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash-Joint List), chairman of the Knesset Caucus of Promotion of Coexistence Between Arabs and Jews, MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash-Joint List), and chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus to Combat Racism, MK Michal Biran (Labor).
During the conference, Director of the Coalition against Racism, Attorney Nidal Othman, presented a comprehensive report that detailed the level of racism in Israel based on polls, and made recommendations to government authorities on how to combat the phenomenon.
MK Touma-Sliman expressed her deep concern about the rising tide of racism in the country. “There are more and more acts of racism in Israel,” she said. “And not only against Arabs. It doesn’t matter what the nationality or skin color is – this phenomenon that divides our society is getting out of hand.” MK Jabareen suggested that the Israeli educational system should play a key role in solving the problem, but stressed that, for the present at least, schools contribute to it by omission. “The system can and should educate for values like equality, tolerance and mutual understating,” said Jabareen. “In a diverse society like Israel, the educational system must take a leading role in combating racism and advancing reforms so we can eliminate racism.”
MK Jabareen then blamed senior leaders for nurturing a racist atmosphere in Israeli society. He quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said in 2015, “Arab leaders in Israel trail behind them flags of ISIS,” and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman who last week suggested a two-state scenario that would involve redrawing the Green Line in such a way that many Palestinian-Arabs citizens of Israel would find themselves on the other side of the border. “How do these remarks contribute to our efforts to combat racism?” asked Jabareen. “Rather, they negatively influence the average Israeli and shape public consciousness,” he said.