Many people argue that racism is fundamentally the hatred or dislike of someone based on their race or origins.
Israel has redefined what it means to be racist, broadening it out to include someone who hates or discriminates against someone else for other reasons, including religion and politics.
That is the kind of racism that exists among many Israelis — hatred driven by any sort of differences.
Even so, racism is not the highest form of hate in Israel. There is a more sinister form of racism that occurs when it goes beyond a society and is embraced by the government. Racism enacted by a government is called apartheid.
Apartheid carried out by a government has a dual form of justice, one for one group of people and one for another group of people. In Israel, that difference is between Jews and non-Jews.
If you are a Jew in Israel and you murder a non-Jew, your punishment could be just 18 months in prison. To mitigate that punishment — if it can really be called a punishment — the prime minister and leader of Israel will publicly defend you and call for your release, as we have seen in one recent case.
If you are a non-Jew in Israel and you pass a cell phone to a non-Jewish prisoner who has been denied the right to speak to his relatives, you could face prosecution and a jail sentence of up to 20 years.
Here are the stories of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria who murdered, in cold blood, a Palestinian civilian accused of a crime but never given the right of judicial review by Israel. And, Israeli Arab Knesset member Basel Ghattas (Jittas) who was accused of helping Palestinian political prisoners who were being denied the right to communicate with their families.
Azaria was sentenced to just 18 months in prison after he was convicted of murdering a Palestinian civilian who had been shot and seriously wounded by another Israeli soldier on the unproven accusation that the suspect had attacked another soldier.
The victim was with a Palestinian civilian friend in the occupied West Bank near Hebron (not in Israel) on March 10, 2016, when Israeli soldiers shot them, alleging that he and the friend had attacked and wounded a soldier.
Another aspect of racism and apartheid is that individuals who are hated by the majority of society and the government are denied their civil and judicial rights. Israel does not accord non-Jews the same rights that it accords to Jews.
It is hard to know what the truth is in Israel because the Israeli media is controlled by a racist loyalty to the state, kind of like the one portrayed in George Orwell’s “1984.” Orwell’s story portrays a government that controls people using racist hatred against others and punishes anyone in society who challenges the state.
Civil rights organization B’Tselem reminds us that despite the extremism and racism promoted by Israel’s government policies, there are many Jews in Israel who oppose racism and support true justice.
Orwell published his book in 1949, less than a year after Israel was founded. I do not believe in coincidences.
Ghattas was accused of providing material support to “terrorists” who were imprisoned in Israel’s Gulag system, a brutal archipelago of imprisonment that denies non-Jews their rights and engages in torture and killings. Non-Jews in Israeli prisons are denied basic human rights, often denied the right to speak with lawyers and are falsely accused of terrorism, convicted only because the Israeli judicial system is skewed and unjust.
What did Ghattas do? He gave a cell phone to a Palestinian political prisoner because the Israelis refused to allow him to have any contact with his family.
What Ghattas did was an act of compassion and a testament to the rights denied to non-Jews by Israel’s corrupt judicial system and their corrupt and racist news outlets which call all Palestinians convicted in Israeli courts “terrorists” but call murderers like Azaria “patriots.”
Without waiting for a trial, 71 Jewish members of the Israeli Knesset signed a letter demanding that Ghattas be impeached. Knowing that he would be railroaded by Israel’s unjust apartheid system, Ghattas decided to take a plea agreement in exchange for resigning.
Ghattas, who did not kill anyone, still got more time than Azaria and was ordered to serve 24 months in prison.
In Israel, if a Jew kills a non-Jew, they only get 18 months in prison. If a non-Jew helps another non-Jewish political prisoner by giving him a cell phone to call his relatives, he is threatened with 20 years in prison and is forced to resign from his elected public position in the Knesset in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Worse still is that Azaria’s murderous conduct would not have been reported on had it not been for the courageous actions of a member of the Israeli civil rights organization B’Tselem who recorded the murder on video.
B’Tselem reminds us that despite the extremism and racism promoted by Israel’s government policies, there are many Jews in Israel who oppose racism and support true justice.
Had the video not been made public, Azaria would have never been charged because none of his fellow Israeli soldiers turned him in to authorities for his murderous act.
Worse, the man who videotaped the murders has been sent death threats.
Nothing symbolizes the injustice of the Big Brother Totalitarian State more than Israel’s own dual system of apartheid-style injustice.
• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]