Racist Discrimination Against Israeli Arabs
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Arab citizens (below called Israeli Arabs) “are discriminated (against) in almost every aspect of their lives,” including:
- political representation;
- personal safety;
- socioeconomic status;
- family unification; and
- virtually all other aspects of their lives. According to ACRI:
“One of the most important principles in a democracy is to protect the minority against….tyranny. A democratic state is by nature pluralistic and respectful of diversity among its citizens, and enables each group within its population that so wishes to maintain all the components of its own identity, including its heritage, culture, and national identity.”
In fact, Israel marginalizes non-Jews. They’re unwanted, considered outliers, and fifth column threats. Basic rights are denied. Persecution and violence threaten them. State authorities are their enemy, not protector.
Comprising 20% of Israel’s population, discriminatory racism harms them, including their economic well-being.
As a result, over half of Israel’s poor are Arabs. Moreover, Arab municipalities are Israel’s poorest by design.
Health is another major issue. On November 23, Physicians for Human Rights/Israel (PHR/I) published a report titled, “Arab-Palestinian Citizens of Israel: Discrimination in Access to Health; Lower Health Indicators,” saying:
Since Israel’s founding, “the Arab-Palestinian minority in the country has suffered systematic discrimination as compared to Israel’s Jewish citizens in allocation of public funding and in access to services and conditions (vital) for a healthy life.”
Significant disparities in allocating healthcare resources harms them. Negev Bedouin Arabs are most affected. They have Israel’s lowest health indicators because discriminatory policies mistreat them. More on them below.
Overall Healthcare Inequality
Marginalizing factors are stark. No Arab town or community has a government operated hospital, mental health clinic, or geriatric nursing home.
Arab community social service departments receive only 10% of available funds.
Water access is restricted, allegedly over payments some citizens owe Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.
A Galilee Society study showed Arabs comprise 54% of Israel’s population living close to hazardous quarries. The closer to them, the higher the percentage.
In September 2011, Israel’s Health Ministry reported serious disparities between Arabs and Jews, including:
- heart disease mortality;
- infant mortality;
- life expectancy;
- mortality from strokes;
- diabetes mortality;
- greater incidence of all kinds of cancer; and
- cancer mortality.
Israel’s Bedouin Arabs
Israeli Arabs live mainly in all-Arab towns and villages in three heartlands – the Galilee in the north; what’s called the “Little Triangle” in the center along the Israeli side of the Green Line; and the Negev in the south.
Around 160,000 live in Israel, over half in “unrecognized villages.” They mainly in the Negev. Considered internal refugees, they were forced from their homes during Israel’s War of Independence and prevented from returning.
Thereafter, they’ve been relentlessly mistreated, including by repressive zoning restrictions. They prohibit construction, agriculture, and other legal rights.
They’re also denied essential services, including water, electricity, roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare, postal and telephone service, refuse removal, and more.
Under Israel’s Planning and Construction Law, they’re illegal. As a result, land theft and home demolitions displace them. At issue is removing them for Jewish development.
Around 90,000 Negev Bedouins are affected. They’re Israel’s poorest and most deprived. They also score lowest on health indicators.
“The principle of non-discrimination in medical treatment, anchored in Israeli law, is not extended” to Negev Bedouins. At issue is state-sponsored deprivation to force them out. It’s also about losing their land rights.
Minimal healthcare facilities serve them, In fact, only 12 barebones clinics exist, and 34 villages have none.
Overall, one doctor serves 3,116 residents, and one nurse per 3,751. In contrast, nearby Kibbutzim and settlements have one doctor per 892 residents and higher quality care overall.
Moreover, healthcare provided Arabs is poor, including fewer operating hours, laboratories, and examinations therein.
“The average number of reception hours of physicians for every 1,000 residents….is 13 hours per week.” No specialized services exist, including pediatrics, gynecology or pharmacies. Minimal family medicine only is available. Facilities aren’t connected to Israel’s electricity grid. It’s crucial for proper treatment.
In addition, without roads, public transportation and other infrastructure, clinics are hard to access. Few residents have vehicles. Non-Arabic speaking staff only treat them.
Chronically ill residents, elderly ones, and children are most at risk. PHR/I estimates about “21% of the entire population are chronic patients in need of electricity on a regular basis as part of their treatment.”
It’s vital to store medications requiring refrigeration, including insulin for diabetes. Medical equipment needs it to operate. Lack of it “caused the deterioration of around 70% of patients.” As a result, two died.
Healthcare indicator disparities between Bedouins and Jews are extreme, including:
- up to five times the rate of infant mortality;
- lower birth weight babies;
- greater incidence of anemia among under six month aged babies;
- nutritional deficiencies;
- underweight school children;
- higher incidence of heart disease and other chronic illnesses;
- higher asthma rates; and
- other evidence of poorer health.
PHR/I concluded saying:
Israel’s “intentional neglect of social inequalities in education, infrastructure, poverty, and access to the job market have led to chronic disparities in health between Arabs and Jews.”
Racist discrimination affects all non-Jews, especially Muslims. As a result, over 1.6 million citizens are marginalized and deprived without equal rights. Worst of all, Bedouin Arabs have practically none.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US