Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supposed apology for his incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel during Israel’s recent election campaign, his government continues to spread anti-Arab hatred.
Israel’s verified Arabic-language Twitter and Facebook accounts, titled “Israel speaks Arabic,” published the above caricature on Sunday, which asks “Which is better, relying on yourself, or relying on someone else?”
It includes two stereotyped and demeaning figures, one representing a Japanese person, and the other an Arab.
The headline says “Attitudes to work.” The text next to each figure, respectively, states:
The Japanese attitude to work: “If there is someone else who can do a job, then I can do it too. And if there is no one else to do the job, then without doubt I will do it.”
The Middle Eastern attitude to work: If there is someone else to do a job, then let them do it. And if no one else can do it, then dude, how do you think I can do it?!”
In Israel, stereotypes of Arabs – often the lowest paid, least protected and most exploited workers – as lazy, reflect the kind of racist attitudes toward natives prevalent in other settler societies.
This is also reflective of the anti-Arab attitudes taught to Israeli Jewish schoolchildren from the youngest age.
One Facebook user, Magdy C Nashed, responded sarcastically to the Israeli government’s question about self-reliance with the comment: “Then why do you rely on America?”
Twitter user @ANimer – who drew my attention to the caricature – commented that the Israeli government’s posting of a picture calling Arabs “lazy” showed that “racism is pretty casual for the Zionist state.”
A government that purported to care about all its citizens would fight such stereotypes instead of spreading them.
But as the Israeli organization Sikkuy meticulously has documented in its “Equality Index” reports over several years, Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic legal, social and economic discrimination.
The direct result is much higher unemployment and poverty, poorer health outcomes and shorter lives.
In its 2013 report on human rights in Israel, the US State Department lists among the most serious problems: “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, including the Bedouin, in particular in access to equal education and employment opportunities; societal discrimination against women; and the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants.”
As I demonstrate in my book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, this discrimination is not incidental to Israel’s policies but a central part of maintaining a so-called “Jewish state.” (You can read a relevant excerpt here.