Oztma LeYisrael Launches Racist Television Campaign Ad Targeting the Palestinian Arab Minority

Date: 2012/12/17
Ad Contributes to Continuing Trend of Racism in Israeli Elections

Haifa - On Tuesday, January 8th, Israeli political parties kicked-off their official television campaign ads, which will be featured on networks throughout the country. Oztma LeYisrael, one of the extreme right-wing parties running for Knesset elections, launched a television ad that demonizes the Palestinian Arab minority by blaming Palestinian citizens for not paying taxes and mocking their culture. Additionally, the ad emphasizes the familiar slogan, "No citizenship without loyalty," which was coined by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Yisrael Beitenu's campaign in 2009. 

While the Israeli public is accustomed to politicians demanding Palestinian citizens fulfill their "duties" for their equal rights (usually in reference to national service), it is shocking to see Otzma LeYisrael's television ad play so blatantly off of Palestinian stereotypes. Otzma LeYisrael claims that Palestinian citizens don't pay their income taxes in accordance to their percentage of the population. They add that social security taxes and municipality taxes are also lacking from the Palestinian Arab community. What the party fails to understand is that problems associated with tax payment in the Palestinian Arab community are directed related to the minority's socio-economic problems as second-class citizens. For instance, the fact that Jewish citizens' salaries are twice as much as Palestinian citizens' salaries, on average, and the high level of unemployment in the Palestinian Arab community, obviously affects the amount of Palestinian citizens paying full income tax. Simply that the rate of poverty in the Palestinian Arab community amongst families and children is over 50%, whereas the rate of poverty in the Jewish community does not exceed 22%, clearly affects the issue of taxes. The issue of taxes should not be promoted as an example of how Palestinian citizens choose to live, but should be seen as a symptom of greater social problems that have yet to be addressed by the government. 

Additionally, the speakers in the television ad address the audience in Arabic for part of the clip, while drinking Arabic coffee. This behavior is racist and is mocking Arabic culture and society. It is clear that the political party is not concerned with attracting Palestinian viewers, but is merely trying to address their right-wing supporters by spreading degrading stereotypes about Palestinian Arabs. 

Oztma LeYisrael fell under public criticism recently for its campaign signs which included words such as, "taxes," "borders," "loyalty" in Arabic, with the statement, "Without responsibilities, you have no rights" in Hebrew. Israel's Central Election Committee banned the signs, claiming that they were designed to slander a particular group of citizens and the message was "misleading the public as to the status of human rights in a democratic state." 

The Mossawa Center will not remain silent while these racist campaign ads are released to the Israeli public for mass consumption. It is the responsibility of the Central Election Committee to ban any ads which are deemed as racist. The campaign ads of Otzma LeYisrael promote the discriminatory view that Palestinian Arabs are not deserving of national rights as citizens and must prove their loyalty by taking certain unnecessary actions. This attitude contradicts with international law towards the rights of citizens and should be shunned by the international community. 

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