A few days ago, a post about racism popped up in my newsfeed. It was yet another Palestinian young man who couldn’t rent an apartment in Tel Aviv, because he is an Arab. He saw the apartment, and the landlord agreed to rent it to him. Then, when they met again to sign the contract, the landlord, upon seeing the young man’s ID, suddenly changed his mind. I read it, and skipped to the next item in my newsfeed. No, I wasn’t really horrified. The racism within Israeli society has reached such unprecedented heights that, sadly, such “minor” incidents don’t make the headlines anymore. It happens every day, all the time.
I received an email from a friend this morning about another incident of racism, which happened yesterday, in my own mixed city of Haifa. She was spending time at the beach, as were many other people – both Jews and Palestinians. At a certain point, she noticed that only the Palestinians are being harassed by the city inspectors. They stopped Palestinians, requested to see their IDs, took photos of their IDs, then asked them if they carried any weapons or glass in their bags, and finally, they requested from people to empty out their bags. During the four hours that my friend spent at the beach, not one Jew was stopped and harassed in this way.
Of course my friend, being a radical feminist activist, couldn’t just stand by and watch this humiliation people are being submitted to only because of their ethnicity. She came up to the city inspector and asked him why didn’t he check her and her friend’s bag? Is it because they are Jewish? He more or less ignored her, treated her like a mad woman. The other people around her, sitting at a beach cafe, all looked at her with hostility, probably thinking to themselves that she is mad and just looking to make a scene. Nobody thought that something is wrong. Even the cafe owner, whom my friend has known for more than 30 years, dismissed her with a chauvinistic comment.
I don’t even have any energies to analyze these two examples and their implications on Israeli society. So much has been said about where the Israeli society is heading to, and these are just two more examples among thousands of incidents. This is our daily reality. We are subjected to racism wherever we go – at the workplace, trying to rent an apartment, at the beach, on the train, on the bus, and in every public space. It has become the norm rather than the exception. And most of Israeli society accepts it. Few are the ones who stand up to it, like my friend did. And she was taken for a mad woman.
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