A woman and schoolchildren stand on a street corner in Rahat, a primarily Bedouin town in southern Israel. (Victor Cabrera)

Implicit Racism in Israeli Society

Maariv, Israel, July 19

Last week, a horrific video depicting a Jewish family “feeding” Bedouin children like zoo animals was posted on social media. The person behind the film turned out to be a notable children’s television star. I’m not here to deride the man like my colleagues have done. This is because the said star is the symptom, not the root cause of the problem. Too many people in Israeli society suffer from implicit racism. This racism is subtle, covert, hard to point a finger at. It exists in almost all our minds, both individually and collectively. Most notably, it is the most dangerous type of racism. It is certainly the hardest to fight. In fact, most of us deny its existence, making it almost impossible to solve. After all, the perpetrator of this heinous demanding act is not a member of the Ku Klux Klan – it’s a man who is considered the salt of the earth: a wonderful father, a volunteer fighting for noble social causes and a children’s TV star. This is exactly what sparked the widespread public outcry over his actions. How can someone so “normal” behave in such a disgusting way? The question is, how many of us are just like this television star? The answer is too many. How many more of us would have been outraged had the children being fed in the video been Jews? Too many of us refuse to come to terms with the fact that ingrained in our DNA is a level of implicit racism that we must fight. This racism is so transparent and slippery that we deny its existence. We ignore it. The only way to fight it is through education, which must begin at infancy. Yes, the process of coming to terms with it will hurt. After all, we’ll have to admit just how racist we are and deal with the embarrassment and discomfort that such recognition entails. However, doing so is an imperative. And we must start now. – Hilik Bar (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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