HRW on Israeli Racial Discrimination in West Bank

Human Rights Watch has issued a new report on racial discrimination against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. HRW writes:

‘Israel operates a two-tier system for the two populations of the West Bank in the large areas where it exercises exclusive control. The report is based on case studies comparing Israel’s starkly different treatment of settlements and next-door Palestinian communities in these areas.’

and:

‘ “Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits,” said Carroll Bogert, deputy executive director for external relations at Human Rights Watch. “While Israeli settlements flourish, Palestinians under Israeli control live in a time warp – not just separate, not just unequal, but sometimes even pushed off their lands and out of their homes.” ‘

Aljazeera English has video:

See also Israel’s war on Palestinian children.

11 Responses

  1. Israelis and Palestinians are the same race (Semites, a subdivision of Caucasians), so the discrimination can be characterized as based on religion or nationality or national origin, but it is not racial. Religious discrimination would seem to be the best description. Which is not to excuse it.

    • Race as defined by sociologists is more complicated than 19th century linguistic definitions like ‘Semite.’ It can have to do with contemporary practices of endogamy, e.g. Palestinians are definitely racialized by Israelis.

      • I’ll go along with “ethnic,” as for example was formerly practiced against Catholics and other Irish in the British Isles. English and Irish are clearly the same race but differ religiously (for the most part) and ethnically.

        • You really need to read in the history of race theory. The same antiquated 19th century thinkers who talked about ‘Semites’ would have called Irish ‘Celtic’ and English ‘Anglo-Saxon,’ i.e. different ‘races.’ I am not sure what distinction you are making between race and ethnicity, but ethnic discrimination would in general parlance and certainly in US law be racial discrimination.

  2. Well, it is logical. The Zionist mantra is “A land without people …” and so whatever exists in Palestine that is not a European or Russian Zionist immigrant is therefore not a person. I mean, they said so from the beginning and now we are to be surprised at the outcome?

  3. “You really need to read in the history of race theory. The same antiquated 19th century thinkers who talked about ‘Semites’ would have called Irish ‘Celtic’ and English ‘Anglo-Saxon,’ i.e. different ‘races.’ ”

    I can’t claim to have read extensively on this subject, but the English have Celtic (pre-Anglo-Saxon, e.g., in Cornwall) and Norman (post-Anglo-Saxon) as well as Viking heritage. “Semites” were geographically much more distinct.

    “I am not sure what distinction you are making between race and ethnicity, but ethnic discrimination would in general parlance and certainly in US law be racial discrimination.”

    It would be illegal discrimination but not racial discrimination. The law refers to discrimination by race, religion, national origin, and in some cases sex and sexual preference. Refusal to allow, e.g., Lebanese-Americans to eat in a public restaurant would fall under national origin, not race.
    Again I’m not going to deny or excuse Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians–even against its own Arab citizens–but calling it racial discrimination, as HRW sort of did and as you headlined, is excessively inflammatory.

    • Almost all human beings may have a common ancestor as recently as the last 6000 years, so if you are going to invoke that kind of vague genetic heritage and all-mixed-up-ness, there are no races. African-Americans typically have 33% recent European genetic endowments, which is about the same proportion of Jewish Ashkenazi women that have Palestinian haplotypes. You can’t erase the vicious racial discrimination practiced by the Israeli government toward Palestinians in this way, without also erasing the idea of white discrimination against African-Americans in the US (we’re all related, too).

      • Just curious, where do you get the information that Jewish Ashkenazi women have 33% Palestinian haplotypes? What is a Palestinian haplotype anyway, and why does it matter when it comes to religious/ethnic discrimination as practiced by Israel?

      • I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. There are many types of discrimination; you pointed out that the KKK went after Catholics and Jews just as they went after blacks, and if you care to characterize that as racial, all I can do is point out that I would characterize it otherwise. But it’s just as despicable.

        • I think Phud if you listen to/read the anit-Arab comments that many Israelis make you’ll see that THEY see it as a racial distinction…one, unfortunately, where they are the master race.

    • Phud – your point, calling the term “racism” “excessively inflammatory” seems to be exculpating Israel, suggesting it’s not really so bad as all that.

      Race may or may not be a genetic distinction, but racism is definitely a social distinction. The real question is not how closely peoples are related but how they are perceived by others as Other, as different from Us. And there can be no doubt that the Palestinians in Israel, the “Arabs,” are perceived by the Israeli public as very Them, as an Other that is racially inferior, even subhuman.

      Racism is really the most accurate term.

      I only wish black Americans had a more clear understanding that their representatives in Congress are backing a racist state.

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