US State Department: Israel practices “institutional discrimination”

Israel practices “institutional and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens: this is the conclusion of the US State Department in its newly-published Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012.

The annual country report on Israel contains uncomfortable reading for pro-Israel advocacy groups, particularly given who is publishing it. With regards to problems faced by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, the State Department notes the following:

  • “Resources devoted to Arabic education were inferior to those devoted to Hebrew education in the public education system.”
  • “Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”
  • “Approximately 60,000 Bedouin lived in at least 46 unrecognized tent or shack villages that did not have water and electricity and lacked educational, health, and welfare services.”
  • “The law bars family reunification when a citizen’s spouse is a non-Jewish citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon. Citizens may apply for temporary visit permits for Palestinian male spouses 35 years old or older or Palestinian female spouses 25 years old or older, but may not receive residency based on their marriage and have no path to citizenship.”

In addition, the report also records human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as:

  • “excessive use of force against civilians, including killings; abuse of Palestinian detainees, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper use of security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly, and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement.”

The State Department’s observations on Israel’s institutionalized racism and systematic violations of Palestinian rights are far from comprehensive or flawless. But it is a marked contrast to the kind of tokenism popular with Israel’s propagandists – like the Jewish Agency’s Avi Mayer’s tweeting of the appointment of a Palestinian citizen to the position of director of the emergency department at Hadassah University Medical Center, a story he shared nine times over one hour.

It’s the hasbara version of that familiar refrain: I’m not racist, some of my best friends are black.




This report contained much more than just an outline of institutional discrimination against Palestinians. It discussed discrimination against all non-Jews, religious minorities, and even non-orthodox Jews. EI, we'd appreciate a more comprehensive focus than just "how it's bad for Palestinians".


When the U.S. - a country who's terror is constantly reaching into other parts of the world - says you have problems, then you know it's bad. Unfortunately this report will like so many others get ignored both by the media and by people who have the power to change the situation but choose not to.


there is massive discrimination in Israel, and it is only right to help expose it.
prison without charge is just one of very many.


I don't see an Israeli or a Jew being appointed to the director of the emergency department in Iran...

Ben White

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Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. His articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian‘s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (2009, Pluto Press) and ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination & Democracy’ (2012, Pluto Press). Ben is a researcher/writer for the Journal of Palestine Studies.