28 November, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile

mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

e-mail this to a friend printable version

» 02/26/2014
New Israeli 'divide and rule' law to separate Arab Christians and Muslims
by Joshua Lapide
A minor law on equal opportunities is set to appoint distinct Christian and Muslim representatives with the aim of making Christians the "allies" of the State of Israel, at the expense of Muslims. This has raised fears among Christian Arabs. A letter is sent to Pope Francis to stop the recruitment of Christian Arabs into the Israeli Defence Forces (from which Arab Muslims are excluded).

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A new law that provides for distinct representation for Christian and Muslim Israeli Arabs has been labelled racist by both Jews and Palestinians.

On Monday, the Knesset approved a minor bill expanding the equal opportunities commission from five to ten members, giving separate seats to Christians, Muslims, Druze and Circassians.

Some MKs (Members of the Knesset) have immediately slammed the law as "useless" because Israeli society has a duty to provide jobs to all Arabs, not specifically to Christians or Muslims.

Statements by the bill's sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, has led to a heated debate. Interviewed by the newspaper Maariv a few weeks ago, he explained that the purpose of the law is "To grant separate representation and separate treatment to the Christian community, which will be distinguished from the Muslim Arabs."

"This," he explained, "is a historic and important move that could help balance the State of Israel, and connect us and the Christians, and I'm being careful about not calling them Arabs because they aren't Arabs."

"We and the Christians have a lot in common," he added. "They're our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within."

Israel's Arab community has its roots in the 160,000 Palestinians who remained inside Israel following its creation in 1948. Today they and their descendants number around 1.3 million (20 per cent) out of a total Israeli population of 7.9 million.

Israeli Arabs enjoy full citizenship and are allowed to vote but have long complained of official discrimination.

Adopted two days ago, the law is seen by many as an attempt to divide Israeli Palestinians on the basis of religion, pitting Christians against Muslims, in order to make the first the "allies" of the State of Israel.

For Meretz MK Issawi Freij, "an effort is being made to try to define the state according to religions. Here they are trying to say that there's a difference between Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs."

Balad party chief Jamal Zahalka also criticised the bill's sponsor. "Arab rights don't interest Yariv Levin," he said. "We will not be his lackeys."

"This law aims to create a new reality among our people based on religion and not national identity," Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

Today, an editorial in Haaretz also describes the law as racist because it separates "good Arabs" (Christians)" from "bad Arabs (Muslims)".

"Such a distinction is designed to spark conflicts between minorities in a divide-and-conquer style that breaches international agreements that Israel has signed," the paper writes.

Christian sources in Jerusalem told AsiaNews that the law itself does not make any substantial change to the situation since Christians are Arab by ethnicity and tradition.

Still, there is widespread fear that, as a result of the Knesset bill, Palestinian Muslims will look upon Christians as enemies and as allies of the Israeli state.

Backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a campaign is underway to enrol more Christians in the Israeli Defence Forces whilst excluding Muslim Arabs, thus contributing to this view.

In this regard, MK Basel Ghattas (an Orthodox Christian) wrote a letter to Pope Francis, which he gave to the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Giuseppe Lazzarotto. The Holy Father is expected in the Holy Land in May.

In his letter, he slams the attempt to Israelise the Arab minority, a step that could erode Christians' identity in the country.

Ghattas calls on the pope to intervene with the Israeli government to end its "divide-and-conquer policy applied," which will "harm the Palestinian minority inside Israel."

e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
10/15/2004 israel - palestine
Israel: no limits on Al Aqsa Mosque
Israeli and Palestinian children not educated to love
Holy Week in Jerusalem, difficulties for Palestinian Christians
by Joshua Lapide
PLO calls for an end to anti-Israel violence because it harms Palestinians
International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to issue its decision on the Wall tomorrow

Editor's choices
Paris Massacre highlights the failure of Muslim integration in Europe
by Catherine FieldThe attack in the heart of France highlights the crisis of Europe’s model of coexistence. Social unrest, poverty and marginalisation feed youth extremism and radicalisation. A New Zealander journalist, expert on expertise in religion and interfaith dialogue, talks about it after undertaking a journey through the French Muslim world.
For Nîmes imam, Islam should not be held hostage by extremists
by Hochine DrouicheFrench imams condemn the Paris terrorist attacks and disassociate themselves from violence committed in "the name of our religion." At the same time, they ask Muslim communities to dare leading a life of dialogue and friendship with Europeans, without fear or arrogance. For centuries, Muslims have ruled out reason from their religious life. The vice president of French imams bears witness.
AsiaNews marks 12 years: Persecution and hope
by Bernardo CervelleraDespite a worldwide increase of ignorance, indifference and superficiality, many signs of love and hope resist even in the most gloomy situations: the Iraqi mother who gives birth to her child in a refugee camp and smiles even though she has nothing; the Indonesian Muslim mother who blesses her son who became a Christian and a priest; the Chinese Christian families that welcome children thrown away because of the one-child law.


Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.