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Monday, June 04, 2012

A vignette about racism

Recently there have been some isolated attacks by Israelis against African would-be immigrants into Israel.

While the problem of these illegal immigrants is a serious one, nothing justifies racism, and nothing justifies  physical attacks against these people.

The irony is that the Arab media is essentially celebrating these attacks as "proof"  of Israeli racism. An op-ed in Al Quds today even says:

Palestinian people who have been the brunt of these racist practices for sixty-odd years have an affinity with these Africans and solidarity with their plight, just as they had sympathy with the Jewish immigrants who fled the persecution of Europe early last century, and, they were rewarded with expulsion and deportation and mass killings, ethnic cleansing; here are innocent African migrants who are tasting some of this Israeli racism...

The idea that Palestinian Arabs feel an affinity for Africans of any type is almost as laughable as the idea that they felt sympathy for Jewish Holocaust victims (they did everything they could to keep millions of Jews in Europe to be slaughtered.)

I noted an Economist article last week that detailed systematic racism against blacks and Asians in the Arab world (an article that was completely ignored by the Left that claims to care so much about this very issue.) There were few anguished op-eds in Arab newspapers about this clear, institutionalized racism. (Here is one exception.) No articles by such luminous moderates like Hussein Ibish calling for an end to Arab racism. Nothing.

To his credit, Robert Fisk was even more outspoken about the problem.

Arab societies are dependent on servants. Twenty-five per cent of Lebanese families have a live-in migrant worker, according to Professor Ray Jureidini of the Lebanese American University in Beirut. They are essential not only for the social lives of their employers (housework and caring for children) but for the broader Lebanese economy.
Yet in the Arab Gulf, the treatment of migrant labour – male as well as female – has long been a scandal. Men from the subcontinent often live eight to a room in slums – even in the billionaires' paradise of Kuwait – and are consistently harassed, treated as third-class citizens, and arrested on the meanest of charges.


But sometimes the truth about Arab racism against blacks can be seen in a much more personal way.

In an advice column for the (Hamas-oriented) Palestine Times, an 18 year old Palestinian Arab girl writes:

I am an 18-year old girl, and my skin is brown. I believe I am beautiful to some extent, but people close to me don't, because they see me as "black." I often wish my mother would bleach my skin in order to whiten my skin, therefore, I am sparing no effort to buy creams to lighten my skin color. Unfortunately, members of my family like my younger sister, as her skin is white and beautiful. What's worse, the mother said this to my sister but not to me, which makes me jealous of my sister. My parents favor her even to the point that my father and my mother always argue as to which of them my sister resembles. I even thought about suicide. Please Help me I am broken and too pre-occupied...
The racism is so deep that even within a family there is preference for the daughter with whiter skin!

Arabs of course were instrumental in the slave trade, kidnapping tens of millions of Africans throughout the centuries, something that still exists (especially in Gulf countries) with African domestic workers who are effectively indentured servants.

Their glee at seeing some isolated and condemned acts of Israeli racism is more than a bit hypocritical.