Israel is officially a democratic Jewish state. In that contradiction lies the problem for the Palestinian Arabs in Israel who are 19 percent of the whole population. On one hand the state of Israel promises equality and justice for all, but on the other hand that equality only reaches within the Jewish society.
Looking at how the state distributes the yearly budget to the Israeli society, the discrimination against the Arab community becomes clear. Everybody in Israel, including the Arabs, pay tax, but how much money is being given to the Arab community? Is it proportional?
According to the Arabic human rights organisation ‘Mossawa’, the Arabic Community in Israel have been promised one billion NIS a year since 2000. So far has that promise not been implemented. For example in 2002 the Palestinian Arabs in Israel were only given 855 NIS. In 2003 that amount decreased with 25 percent, making only 4,5 of the entire yearly budget. The lack of money, or will to distribute it, to the Arab community has created great poverty among the Arabs.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“43 percent of the Arab population in Israel is living in poverty. The children are the ones who have been suffering the most, half of the Arab children in Israel live in poverty.Ã¢â‚¬Â Says Director of Mossawa Jarrar Farah.
In 2002 Israel was going through a time of economic crisis. The expenses of Al-Aqsa Intifada were high. Cut backs needed to be done to afford the military costs. But what was the government going to cut down on?
One of the answers were the child allowances. The child allowances were cut back with four percent for all the families in Israel. But for families where the parents have not served in the army the allowance was lowered with 24 percent.
The representation of the Arab community in the Israeli army is very low. The main reason are that many of the Arabs feel that the Israeli army is oppressing the Palestinian population both in the West bank and in Israel.
When the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) listed the richest and poorest local councils in Israel and divided them in to ten different levels (level one being the poorest and ten the richest), 70 percent of the local Arabic councils were placed in the four lowest level (1-4). In the middle levels (5-7) the Jewish councils were represented with 94 percent. In highest levels the Arab community was not represented at all.
The economic discrimination has created two different societies in Israel. One wealthy and modern were the citizens live lives that are similar to any other western country, and one were education, health and welfare is handicapped or even non-existing.
Such parts of the Arabic Israeli society where the welfare is completely absent are the 46 unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev desert. These villages have existed long before the state of Israel was founded in 1948. But no tax money ever reaches these villages. The people living there are also under a constant threat of becoming homeless.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Last year the government tore down 100 houses in the unrecognised villages. The Israeli state do not give land or building permission to almost Arabs in Israel, yet the government owns 93 percent of all the land.,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Farah to IMEMC
Arabs with Israeli citizenship may feel that the political climate have become more harsh the last couple of years of the Al-aqsa Intifada. Laws are being debated in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, about transferring the Arab population of Israel to the west bank or to nearby Arabic states.
In September 2001 the Israeli minister of infrastructure said in a proposal to the members of Knesset that all Arabs with Israeli citizenship should be transferred to Ã¢â‚¬Å“the territoriesÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Prime minister Ariel Sharon says that he is against any such idea, but still several members of his government are positive to the thought of transferring Israeli Arabs to the West bank or other Arabic countries.
According to the Jaffa Centre for Strategic Studies 31 percent of the Israeli Jews are positive to the idea of transferring the Israeli Arabic citizens out of the country.