Understanding the Underlying Cause of Racist Attitudes

An article today (May 28) here in the Times of Israel describes how an undercover reporter from channel 13 investigated hospital maternity wards. She asked that, after giving birth. she be given a bed without an Arab roommate. Five hospitals said yes, the rest said no. Discriminating or segregating Arabs from Jews in this way is illegal in Israel. Five hospitals would do it anyway. A statement from the Health Ministry made clear that this is not something they condone or approve of. [The ministry] “position is that treatment should be given regardless of the identity of the mother and the placement of rooms should be done according to medical considerations.”

The underlying issue is the amount of racism/hatred in Israel today. It goes both ways: Arabs who hate Jews, Jews who hate Arabs. The best short explanation for it I’ve seen was written by Sarah Tuttle-Singer. She was writing on a different subject and did not attempt to justify racism. I’ve clearly taken her words out of context. Despite that those words do fit this situation perfectly. “Israel is such a small country and everyone knows everyone, and pretty much every single Israeli knows someone who was killed or maimed in a war or a terror attack, and that does something to us.”

It indeed does something, and after a hundred years of violence it is not surprising that for many people tolerance has disappeared. It’s not surprising that a Jewish mother doesn’t want to share a ward with someone who might think killing Jewish babies is a good idea. The Palestinian leadership certainly encourages that.

I don’t have a good answer. I don’t have a solution to the problem. I don’t know if Israel’s Arab neighbors will ever truly accept a Jewish state. I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime. I’m also not going to let that harsh reality stop me from living in Israel.

For me the net result is that I recognize the racist nature of this segregation but I am not ready to condemn it. In principle I know it’s wrong. In practice I fully understand it and where it comes from.

About the Author
Caitlyn Martin is an American Jewish IT professional currently working as a security engineer for a very large and well known technology company. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Caitlyn's father was Israeli and fought in the 1948-49 War of Independence. She maintains strong family ties to Israel and hopes to make aliya in the not too distant future or, at the latest, when she retires.
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