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Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Palestine Cables’: U.S. diplomats get front row seat to Israeli racism

Alex Kane on April 15, 2011

18 April 2011 00:47:33

WikiLeaks has partnered up with the Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth and the Lebanese outlet Al Akhbar to release over 6,000 State Department cables on Israel. A series of posts on the new cables will be published in Mondoweiss in the coming days as part of the "Palestine Cables" feature. Read the whole series here.

U.S. diplomats don't have to turn to other sources--the media or the State Department's human rights reports, for example--to learn that Israeli officials and the state they serve are racist. Instead, they get a front row seat, as revealed in recent State Department cables published by Israeli newspapers.

One cable from November 2009 describes a meeting "between US officials and outgoing Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin," as the Jerusalem Post reported Ma'an News Agency's Charlotte Alfred reported on the contents in that cable:

The latest cables to be released, detailed in Haaretz, show Israel’s internal security chief telling a US diplomat in May 2008 that Palestinians in Israel "have taken their rights too far."

The Shin Bet is a "voice for assisting Arab-Israelis constructively," the agency’s director Yuval Diskin said before continuing to outline the threat posed by Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament and Palestinians entering Israel via family unification.

The reunification of West Bank- and Gaza-born family members of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship or residency has been in effect halted since 2003.

Diskin said prior allowances for reunification had been "foolish," as Palestinians in Israel have family connections with "bad people on the other side doing bad things," and such relatives "brought their bad ideas with them."

The security chief also alluded to race-based concerns about maintaining a Jewish minority. He said that "The Bedouin have brought women with them from the Gaza Strip and Jenin, and now have many children."

"We need to manage this immigration in a controlled way," he continued.

Diskin criticized the role of Palestinian members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, saying that "these people don’t spread Israel's democratic values and principles, and abuse their diplomatic immunity."
They are "flirting with the enemy," he alleged, "co-opted by people like [Syrian President] Bashar Assad."

He accused Palestinian Knesset members of trying to take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a new direction and give it a new “national color."

"Thankfully, they are not succeeding, and their efforts are not filtering down to the general public, which is more concerned with daily life."

An April 8 report in YNet News detailed Palestinian members of the Knesset's "furious" reaction to Diskin's comments:

"What Diskin said is akin to an earthquake, he has gone too far," MK Taleb El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said. "He meant to say that the Shin Bet was operating the state in all areas..."
MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) was also furious. "With this statement Diskin has defined us as enemies and not citizens," she said, explaining that the Shin Bet chief was continuing a political attack he began in 2007, "when he said he would target any struggle aimed at achieving equality in the state".
In 2007, Yuval Diskin, Shin Bet Head said that "he would target any struggle aimed at achieving equality in the state".
"We know what Diskin means when he says we bring negative ideas with us. He wants to shut us up," she said.

"We don't care what people say about our participation in Palestinian conferences together with people from all over the world. What Diskin fears is what we say about Israeli democracy and the new laws."
A separate cable reported on by Haaretz shows Isaac Herzog, a Labor Party member of the Knesset, disparaging his rival Amir Peretz to U.S. diplomats during a January 2006 meeting:
The cable documents a meeting between then-MK Herzog and a senior American diplomat, in which Herzog took his comments considerably beyond political correctness. While allowing that the main damage to Labor's ratings in the polls was caused by the ascendance of Kadima, he said damage was also done by "the public perception of Peretz as inexperienced, aggressive and Moroccan."

Herzog drew optimism, however, from Labor's "excellent" Knesset list, which he described as a team that "includes Ashkenazi members [of European descent] to balance out Peretz's Sephardi [Middle Eastern] background."

Herzog and Robert Danin, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, have denied that Herzog said those remarks about Peretz.

But even if Herzog and Danin's denials are true, you don't have to look far for more evidence of Israeli state racism--like the recent bill authorizing communities in the Negev and Galilee to "filter" out residents through "selection committees," which "will enjoy a great deal of latitude and discretion in their accepting or rejecting of candidates, especially Arab candidates, who wish to make a home for themselves on predominantly state-owned land."

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