Opinion: Many of us are taken aback when we come upon blunt racism, but it’s likely because we simply prefer it in the form of policy, as it has been for the past 74 years

The viral parody about far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir is yet another sin of the media for being part of what legitimizes him and the racism attached to his name.

Unfortunately, the media has once again chosen the easy way to cope, by focusing on the symptoms rather than the disease.

מתוך "ארץ נהדרת"
An actor portraying Itamar Ben Gvir as part of the popular satire show Eretz Nehederet (Screenshot from Eretz Nehederet, Keshet TV)


Ben-Gvir, who is continuing the ideology of racist Meir Kahana, was legitimized as a political figure by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his efforts to secure his government’s survival.

In the same broadcast that showed a political parody of the racist member of Knesset, Israeli news reported on a story of Jewish youths’ violent behavior in Jerusalem.

The report showed racist bullying that set out to inflict fear in the Palestinian residents of the city, with the aim of showing them who’s boss. The reporter’s tone was, unsurprisingly, filled with shock and horror.

One can ask: where do we stand, that our people are no longer embarrassed by being racist?

We can certainly offer explanations. We can blame the growing nationalism in the world, the influence of social networks, and the extreme religious elements in politics.

However, all these excuses cannot justify the extremist racists, who have already adopted the chant “burn their villages,” as a rallying cry to others, to target Palestinians.

איתמר בן גביר בתרגיל הבחירות של בית ספר בליך
Itamar Ben Gvir (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


In the first 18 years since the establishment of the state, military rule was imposed on Arab citizens, limiting their ability to freely travel through the country, curbing their options in employment, and limiting their economic potential.

During those years, the government encouraged Jewish immigration and passed a law enabling mass expropriation of land to benefit the Jewish population.

Even after the military rule was removed, institutional discrimination against Arab citizens was still present in budget and land allocations. And after the Knesset passed the Nation-State bill, Israel further blocked Palestinians from any equality with their Jewish neighbors. But this does not seem to bother the lawmakers who describe themselves as being in the center-left.

The delegitimization of the Arab public figures has also been around since the State of Israel was born.

Soon after the establishment of the state in 1949, famed Israeli poet Nathan Alterman publicly defended Arab MK Tawfik Tubi (who was a member of Knesset for the Communist Party) after calls to sanction him for criticizing the actions of the military. He was then told to be grateful that he was allowed to be elected in the first place – despite it being his democratic right

But more recently, the hate campaign led by Benjamin Netanyahu against the predominately Arab Joint List, warning his opponents would include the political alliance in their coalition, is a continuation of the same sentiments the right-wing expressed in the early days.

The speech delivered by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in which he backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reminded us all that there is a military occupation in place on the West Bank.

מסאפר יטא אימון צה"ל דרום הר חברון
IDF drill in Masafer Yatta (Photo: Mashhur Wahwah)


While the media was pandering to Ben Gvir, the Civil Administration continued its daily harassment of 1,000 Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta, and facing expulsion from their homes under the excuse that the IDF must use the area as a firing zone, with the approval of the High Court of Justice.

This hardly begins to cover all the ways in which racism and hatred against Arabs guide the actions of politicians, judges, the IDF, and the police. It’s been taking place for 74 years.

It is true that many of us are in awe when we come upon such blunt racism, but that is likely because we simply prefer it in the form of a government policy.

As reported by Ynetnews