Racism is a stubborn prejudice. Someone may have firmly decided to stop racism and still think, feel and act in racist ways for decades more, until many years of practice and stumbling eventually clean up the act.
Israel is not a racist State. Its budding Constitution and most active High Court of Justice forbid preferential treatment of any ethnic group, just as of either sex, etc. That’s a good and weighty thing but not enough.
Many a democratic State has full equality on the books but still much blatant and subtle (the meanest) bigotry and discrimination.
The good news is that Western and Arab Jews are now already so much “intermarried” in Israel that demographists cannot distinguish Ashkenazics from Sephardics anymore.
The bad news is that Israelis know what it means to be human. Shit happens, though not to such an extent and with such viciousness as anti-Zionists like Haaretz writers fictitiously frequently have claimed.
Nowadays, Mizrachi music is everywhere in the media. That’s progress.
Another example of progress is the insight that Ethiopian Israelis have been targeted by the police baselessly and disproportionally, resulting in them getting in trouble with the law – and not the other way around.
We won’t settle for what’s in the US, where Blacks are overrepresented in jails and as victims of police brutality. (Death row we don’t have at all.)
Arab Palestinians in the West have claimed that they are not accepted because of racism. But mind you, Jews are hated by 200 million Arabs, and the reverse is not oppression. When women hate men, that is not sexism. When some Ashkenazic Jews (a minority of Israeli Jews) dislike Arabs, that may be racism but only if they have the same antipathy against non-Western Jews. There is no reverse sexism and there is no reverse anti-Semitism. (Oppressed persons can abuse their oppressors but not oppress them.) Some Jews dislike Gentiles and there are good historical reasons for that and we should not blame the victim.
Sudanese fugitives and Israeli Bedouins seem to have gotten into trouble disproportionally in Israel in recent years. Pilipino migrant workers have been seriously underpaid. Yes, there appear some racist elements there. Paradoxically, many racist scandals have plagued Left-wing politicians!
And Arab Israelis have been discriminated against and abused and not too many Jews give a hood. Understandable historically but still wrong.
The sides dispute if the new Nation State Law discriminates Gentiles or only has a whiff of Nationalism around it. (Nationalism is not racism. It can still be unfair and if so, no doubt the High Court will disqualify it.)
The same scrutiny can be expected about the Culture Loyalty Bill.
Equality does not mean equally responsible. A Jew bothering an Arab in Israel should be punished more than the reverse offense because the Jew is playing a home match and in addition doesn’t come from a culture that preaches hatred – he should know better. Similarly, an Arab who himself or whose family lives in Israel for generations already, should be held more accountable than an Arab from the West Bank.
No one claimed that Israel is perfect already. It’s a work in progress, as is any society. Protests against racism prove that we are fighting against it more than that they signal how wrong the situation is. We’ll get there.
Happy Holiday today, Ethiopian Jews!