Inequality blights Israel's Arabs

Life in town of Baqa typifies economic isolation and political discrimination.

    In Baqa, Israeli Arabs face relatively low salaries, high unemployment and a poor education [Al Jazeera]

    Samyah Kaadan, a mother of four young children, and her husband, a truck driver, bring in an income of less than a thousand dollars a month.

     

    Samya Kaadan: "Everyone is facing a very bad situation in this town.

     

    "Everything is so expensive and the salaries are not enough to pay electricity, water, phones and taxes."

     

    When asked about their opinion of Jewish Israelis nearby, Kaadan said: "According to what we see in Israeli towns, their situation is much better than ours."

     

    Isolated

     

    Baqa is situated between Israel's "Route Six" highway linking the south to the north of the country and the barrier wall cutting off vast swathes of the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territories.

     

    The wall prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians from shopping in the town and motorists drive past it using the highway. As a result, Baqa is in economic meltdown.

     

    In addition to the economic disparity evident in Baqa, the Israeli government appointed a Jewish mayor without consulting the local Arab council.

     

    Sameh Abu Mokh from the National Council says: "It is nothing more than another example of discrimination."

     

    Citizenship

     

    Israel is about to appoint Ghaleb Majadele as the first Arab to hold a senior position in the Israeli cabinet, as minister of sports culture and science.

     

    Avigdor Lieberman, minister for strategic affairs, called the move "a lethal blow to Zionism", and one which damages "Israel's character as a Jewish state" in Janurary.

     

    Ghaleb Majadele is the first Arab appointed
    to the Israeli cabinet [Al Jazeera]

    Majadele was born and grew up in Baqa and despite his standing within Israeli society he strongly believes that all Arabs are victims of discrimination.

     

    "It cannot be fathomed that a democratic country that hopes to be part of the enlightened world can have 20 per cent of its population as second-class citizens.

     

    "It's not good for the country and it's not good for the democratic Jewish Israeli citizens."

     

    The shop signs in Baqa are written in Hebrew as well as Arabic.

     

    But it is unlikely that Israeli Arabs will ever feel themselves to be full citizens of an Israeli state without a considerable improvement in their economic and political conditions.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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