Posted on March 23, 2005

Racism Alive and Well in Israeli Society

Tony Jassen, Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2005

A survey conducted on occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed Tuesday in the Knesset for the first time in Israel, demonstrated that racism is alive and well in Israeli society.

According to the survey, 43% of Israelis are unwilling to marry, or have their children marry, Ethiopians. More than 50% refuse to live in the same neighborhood as Arab families, 25% would not want their children to marry religious Jews and more than 10% were averse to their children marrying Sephardim. And these numbers are only the tip of the survey’s iceberg.

In response to the results, Mehereta Baruch, the former Ambassador contestant and member of the Ethiopian community, said, while officiating at the Knesset ceremony, “I feel bad for these people. They have a narrow minded view. Surely just as they hold these opinions, they hold themselves back from many beautiful things in life, because they are afraid to try and afraid from something different.”

Baruch, herself 20 years in Israel and married to an Ashkenazi Israeli continued in an interview on Army Radio, “maybe people are afraid when they look upon us from the outside, but when they begin to know us and grow close, they will see that we are not so bad.”

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March, though it was observed in Israel a day later this year. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

[Editor’s Note: For more on this story, click here.]

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