Remember Israel's founding promises

By Jeff Barak, November 18, 2010
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A Palestinian and an Israeli girl play basketball together in Jerusalem

A Palestinian and an Israeli girl play basketball together in Jerusalem

While Israel's Declaration of Independence promises "complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex", this goal has not been met.

It is a matter of shame that we need a reminder from British Jews - such as Mick Davis - as to the importance of integrating the country's Arab citizens.

In recent years, hand-in-hand with the rise of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and the racist passions it encourages, there has been a hardening in Israeli-Arab attitudes to Israel as a Jewish state, which can only be damaging to the country's future.

But Israel's leaders have turned a blind eye. It's not hard to imagine Benjamin Netanyahu making an impassioned speech about antisemitism in Europe should a leading cleric instruct his flock not to rent out properties to Jews.

And yet when Safed's state-employed chief rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu issued a halachic ruling last month prohibiting Jews from renting homes to Arabs in the centre of the town, there was no condemnation. Mr Eliyahu has form on this issue. He was charged a few years ago with making racist remarks against Arabs, but the charges were dropped after he promised to retract them. Disturbingly, there has been no move to re-instate these charges after his recent outburst.

Jeff Barak is a former editor of the Jerusalem Post

Last updated: 3:44pm, November 18 2010