On the Margins 2005
Annual Review of Human Rights Violations of the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel 2005
"Racial discrimination breeds hate. This hate translates to the abhorrent crimes that humanity has been forced to face for centuries. The rearing of racism's ugly head is one of the reasons behind the establishment of international human rights standards – to eliminate thinking that facilitates discrimination against people on the basis of racial, national, and religious background or economic status. "
Muhamed Zeidan, Director, Arab Association for Human Rights
Racial discrimination breeds hate. This hate translates to the abhorrent crimes that humanity has been forced to face for centuries. The rearing of racism's ugly head is one of the reasons behind the establishment of international human rights standards – to eliminate thinking that facilitates discrimination against people on the basis of racial, national, and religious background or economic status.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) came to be so as to form a basic standard that would erase discrimination and emphasise equality in rights. As mentioned in Article 2 of the Declaration:
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."
The term 'equality' and calls for the elimination of discrimination are elaborated on in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1963). Article I reads:
"Discrimination between human beings on the ground of race, colour or ethnic origin is an offence to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among peoples."
The Declarations came about as the international community understood racial discrimination to be a threat to international security and stability. This is in addition to it being a violation to human dignity. This understanding led to the formation of a specific treaty that puts obligations on member states to fight this social scourge – the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1965). Article I(1) of the treaty reads:
"In this Convention, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."
The issue of racial discrimination takes a more severe dimension when we deal with discrimination against minorities in any society on the basis of their racial, national or religious belonging. This is because racial discrimination against minorities stems from an authority that believes in violence and injustice through denying the minority group its basic rights as individuals and by denying access to the group's cultural and collective rights.
From this point of view, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) saw it necessary to document the continuing violations of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel in order to expose the bigger picture through the amalgamation of these violations in report form. This picture points to a systematic discrimination that extends beyond discriminatory policies and actually embodies a discriminatory culture. This culture of discrimination is based on denying the other of his cultural and social identity by delegitimising his existence and suspecting his loyalty, labelling him a 'fifth column' and 'demographic threat' that the State is obligated to act against in order to ensure its own security.
On the Margins: Annual Review of Human Rights Violations of the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel 2005 is a compilation of the HRA's Weekly Press Reviews from the year, which take news pieces on human rights violations of the minority from the local Arabic and Hebrew press, in addition to providing historical background information. The report does not document all the violations in 2005, only what the HRA believes to be the most pressing. These violations point to a real danger that threatens the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel; this has compelled the HRA to issue calls to the State to take action and put a halt to such an affront to human rights.
The report reveals that in 2005 there was a blatant increase in the patterns of discrimination against the Palestinian minority, not just in the frequency of violations but also in their essence and variety. The HRA documented several cases concerning the official policies that deal with the 'Judaisation' of the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee; the increase in home demolition policies based on systematic plans instituted by the authorities to increase control over remaining Arab land; and the confinement and ghettoization of Arab villages and towns to ensure they occupy as little land as possible.
The report brings to light the continuing policy of the long-standing discrimination in education through insufficient class size and disproportionate budget allocations for Arab schools, and the forcing of a biased curriculum on Arab students that ignores cultural and political sentiments relevant to the minority.
The report elaborates on the increase in violent attitudes of the police and security forces towards Arab citizens. This policy that views the Arab citizen as an enemy of the State and as a security threat was criticised by the Or Commission. Another aspect of this policy is the political persecution of Palestinian minority leaders and the Knesset's Arab parties for security reasons, and the continual monitoring of the Arab press and other restrictions on freedom of expression.
The report speaks about violations stemming from governmental economic policies in 2005, which were increases in poverty and unemployment rates among numerous communities belonging to the Palestinian minority. Furthermore, the report reveals the continuing practice of desecration of Arab holy sites and the violation of the freedom of religion by the ban on the minority from visiting certain holy places.
2005's report is the second Annual Trend Analysis by the HRA. Its purpose is to draw a big picture of the de facto situation of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel as regards the status of their individual and collective rights. Furthermore, it aims to condemn official Israeli policy towards the Palestinian minority and make the international community aware.
The HRA calls on the international community in general, and the European Union in particular, to take into consideration in its dealings with Israel, Israel's obligation to respect the rights of the Palestinian Arab minority and to fulfil the UN treaties they have signed and ratified. The HRA calls on the international community to setup a monitoring system in Israel to compel the State to respect its international duties and to abide by the international human rights standards that were instituted by the world's nations so that certain lines would never be crossed.