June 28, 2012
June 28, 2012
Israel qualifies as the “most racist state” in the developed world, Israeli author Sami Michael said earlier this week, in comments which drew parallels between Israeli culture and fanatical Islam.
Michael, who heads the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said racism is encouraged by Israeli cabinet members and fueled by increasing religious extremism in the country.
“Israel can claim the title of most racist state in the developed world,” Michael said at the opening of an international conference of the Association for Israel Studies at an Israeli university, according to a report in Haaretz newspaper.
“From kindergarten to old age we feed our children hatred, suspicion and disgust toward the stranger and the other, and especially toward the Arabs,” he said.
Michael has previously called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel. In his novels, Michael writes about the aspirations and struggles of both Jews and Arabs.
He is the author of non-fiction novels including “These are the Tribes of Israel” in 1984 and, more recently, Twelve “Unbounded Ideas” in 2000.
“More than 60 years after the establishment of the Israeli state, the rift between European and Mizrahi Jewry [communities of the East] has not mended. It is reflected in racism and social gaps,” the author added at the speech.
“To this day people from Arab states are underrepresented in the state’s central institutions, especially academic and cultural ones.
“Israel is in danger unless its leadership understands it isn’t located in Europe’s tranquil north but in the Middle East’s seething center,” said Michael.
In May, Israel came third in a poll conducted by BBC World Service on countries that are viewed negatively.
Israel’s standing among European nations suffered a blow with 74 percent in Spain saying they viewed the Zionist state negatively, followed by 69 percent in Germany, 68 percent in Britain and 65 percent in France.
When asked why Israel suffered such negative opinions, 45 percent of the respondents attributed it to the Israeli government’s policies while 27 percent said it was because of the country’s “bad relationship” with its citizens, a report in Middle East Monitor published on Friday.