Among the 8 million residents in Israel, Palestinian Arab minority makes up about 20,7% of them. More precisely, their population in the April 2013 was estimated about 1,658 million. Palestinian community consists mostly of those who remained behind on the year of Nakba (1948), when approximately 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land taken by the Jewish forces in order to make a way for a Jewish-majority state and their descendants.
Projections based on the Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics predicted that by the year 2025, Palestinian Arab minority in Israel will constitute about 25% of the country’s population. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel used a phrase “demographic bomb” to describe this phenomenon, noting that if the percentage of the Arab citizens rises above its current level of about 20%, Israel will not be able to maintain its Jewish demographic majority. Even when Israel’s politicians claim at the international level that they consider Palestinian Arab minority as equals, such expressions and thoughts show that majority of them is trying to exclude Palestinian Arabs and sees them as a threat to their existence.
More about the public opinion concerning the Palestinian Arab minority can be seen in this poll: https://arabhra.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/2012-israeli-jewish-public-opinion-info-sheet.pdf
Discrimination is even built in to the legal system. Israeli government regularly enacts laws which excludes, ignores and harms them. Since the establishment of the state, Israel has relied upon these laws to ground their discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian Arab minority, continue their unequal status and unfair treatment. There are three ways in which the laws can harm the Palestinian Arab minority: direct legal discrimination against non-Jews within the law itself, indirect legal discrimination through “neutral” laws and criteria which apply principally to Palestinians, and finally an institutional discrimination through a legal framework that facilitates a systematic pattern of privileges to the Jewish population.
Such laws have remarkably increased since the 2009, when elections for the 18th Knesset brought to the power one of the most right‐wing government coalitions in the history of Israel. Members of the Knesset immediately introduced a flood of discriminatory legislation that directly or indirectly targeted Palestinian Arab minority in Israel. These new laws and bills which still continue to emerge, exclude Arab citizens from the land, turn their right of the citizenship from a conditional privilege, undermine the ability to participate in the political life of the country, criminalize political expression or acts that question the Jewish nature of the state and privilege Jewish citizens in the allocation of the state’s resources.
More about the laws that discriminate the Palestinian Arab minority can be found at the Adalah homepage:
Since the legislation and the state itself publically approve or even endorse the discrimination of the Palestinian Arab minority, Jewish population regards such excluding laws and behavior as normal. Here are three examples that have recently run through the media, showing how the discriminating laws turn to direct behavior that harms the Palestinian Arab Minority.
Case nr 1.
Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim refused to allow Arab customer to transfer his bank account to the branches in the Jewish neighborhoods. Channel 10 conducted an experiment to show the discrimination of Arabs in the Israeli’s society. An Arab man, entered a Tzur Yigal Bank, which is a branch of the Bank Hapoalim in the Jewish neighborhood and requested to transfer his account from the Arab branch to theirs. Though he had a steady income and his account had never been in overdraft, the branch manager turned him down. Minutes after Ibrahim left, a Channel 10 investigator entered and requested to move his account from the Ra’anana, a Jewish city, to the branch in the Tzur Yigal. The branch manager had no problem with it. Over the course of 24 hours, Channel 10 conducted a similar experiment in five other branches. In two of them, the racially mixed Haifa and in the branch next to the Tel Aviv University, Arab clients were allowed to transfer their accounts. In three others, an Arab applicant was refused to make the transfer, while the Jewish client did not have any problems with it.
Case nr. 2.
An Israeli public swimming pool refused to allow an entry to a group of children with cancer because they were Arab. According to the video report from the Israel’s Channel 2, Dr. Gali Zohar wanted to surprise a group of twenty Bedouin children with cancer, with a fun day at the pool in the Mabuim village. He called to the swimming pool to agree on time and managers even promised to admit the children free of charge. Everything was fine until the managers realized that the children were Arab descant and cancelled the arrangements. According to them, allowing the Bedouin children in to the public swimming pool would be a “problem.” Adding that although the families of Mabu’im do not have an issue with the Bedouin children, they still have a problem with the ‘sector’ (a term commonly used to describe the whole Arab community in the Israel).
Video report from the Channel 2 (Israel):
Case nr. 3.
A popular Israeli amusement park Superland, in the Rishon Lezion, segregated between the Jews and the Arabs although it claimed to be open for everybody. A Jaffa school teacher wanted to buy tickets to the amusement park for the Arab students, when park’s management declared that the Arab and Jewish children have to come at the separate days. He was told that the amusement park is open for the Jewish schools on certain days and for the Arabs on different one. Although Arab and Jewish schools are separate, the racial segregation in public facilities like in the parks or by the pools are not mandated by the law, still the Palestinian Arab minority of Israel have to face constant discrimination.
Three cases presented above only proves the overall attitude among the Jewish community. It should also be noted that these examples are not exceptions, but humiliations and difficulties that they constantly have to face while being under the Israeli legislation. Despite their large proportion in the Israeli population, people from the Palestinian minority are still treated as a second class citizens. Many of them even feel that society at large treats them as enemies. Even the country’s definition as “Jewish,” points out that it is for Jews and for Jews only. Therefore others, like the Palestinian Arab minority, do not have a place in it and definitely do not have the same rights as Jews whose state it is. In spite of the Israel’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its promise to protect all of its citizens against discrimination, for the Palestinian community, the equal rights are still being denied only because of their national belonging.