Partners for Progressive Israel commemorated Martin Luther King Day with a conversation with MK Dr. Yousuf Jabareen.
Dr. Jabareen, a Knesset member representing the Joint List, is a human rights scholar, lawyer, and community activist. He completed his doctoral dissertation at Georgetown University conducting comparative research on the legal status of African-Americans in the United States in the 1950s and 60s, and that of Israeli Arabs.
Dr. Jabareen argued that the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel are a forgotten indigenous minority. He reminded us that 18% of Israeli citizens, some 1.6 million people, are indigenous Palestinians. The Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise the poorest communities of the country. Their unemployment rates are significantly higher. Fifty percent of them are under the poverty line.
Dr. Jabareen made a case for the comparison of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to the African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement, arguing that they are simultaneously discriminated against by law and by governmental practice.
The basic principle of a democratic system – equal citizenship – does not exist in Israel. In Many areas it does not exist by law […] When I think of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, I think of the march to first class citizenship. […] The classification of first and second class citizenship was seen in the US not only as a legal wrong, but also a moral wrong. […] This goes against the democratic values of equality and equal citizenship. But I think it also goes against moral values – everyone should be treated equal and every citizen should have equal chances and equal opportunities.
Listen to the call, its worth an hour of your time.