On 27 December 2005, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) published a report entitled “Behind the Walls: Separation Walls between Arabs and Jews in Mixed Cities and Neighborhoods in Israel.” The report documented a new manifestation of discrimination and racism: the establishment of walls and fences separating Jewish and Arab citizens within mixed neighborhoods and cities in Israel. These walls and fences reflect attitudes that have developed against a background of racism, and are transforming racial separation into a legitimate pattern of behavior in the context of the relations between the different populations. The phenomenon is particularly common in mixed Arab and Jewish cities, which might have been considered the most appropriate locations in which to apply the principle of equal coexistence and acceptance of the other in a society that respects humans and human rights.
As a result of the publication of the report, the subject of the separation walls between Jews and Arabs in Israel, which had previously been virtually unknown among the Israeli public, became a focus of public attention. In this summary, we examine the impact of the report on public discussion of the issue:
In March 2006, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality launched itselection campaign for the 17th Knesset. The DFPE emphasized the subject of separation of Arabs and Jews in Israel and, in particular, the separation fences. The campaign addressed the subject of separation openly, showing pictures of the separation fence between the Arab neighborhood of Pardes Snir in Lod and the adjacent Jewish community of Moshav Nir Zvi.
On 4 June 2006, HRA organized a conference at Haifa University in cooperation with the Arab-Jewish Center for Middle East Studies. The conference was entitled “Separation Fences between Jews and Arabs in Israel” and included two panels. The guests included academics and lecturers from diverse fields, including law, politics, geography, psychology, and so forth. Most of the audience were also lecturers and professors. The conference was the first time that the subject of the separation walls between Jews and Arabs has been raised in the academic community, and the event has sparked academic and public discussion of the issue.