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Minister Condemns Racism Against Israeli Arabs

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry insists 'Israeli Arabs are part of us,' calls on the public to eschew prejudice in wake of war.
By Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 8/17/2014, 2:28 PM

Yaakov Perry
Yaakov Perry
Flash 90

Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid) called on Israelis to be more tolerant of Israeli Arabs in a Cabinet meeting  on Sunday, condemning prejudice that he linked to Operation Protective Edge. 

"I want to issue a firm and unequivocal condemnation of the manifestations of racism we have witnessed since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge with [Israeli Arabs]," Perry said. "Arabs in Israel are part of us."

"I do not deny that there is an identity problem, and this is a problem that the State of Israel and Jewish and Arab citizens must solve," Perry added, referring to Arab extremists who engage in violence against Jews and Israeli authorities. But he insisted that "we have to show solidarity and resilience, and the public has already showed that it's capable of doing this." 

"Our enemy is a murderous and ruthless terrorist organization called Hamas," Perry continued. "Israeli Arabs are an integral part of the citizens of the State of Israel, who share with us the pain and sorrow of the death of our sons."

"I am issuing a statement firmly and clearly against the leaders and members of the public calling for a boycott of businesses, localities and products from the Arabs or Druze [communities]," he concluded. "Racism is a strategic threat to the democratic character of the State of Israel. "

Perry's statements issue among a media storm over the marriage of an Israeli woman to an Arab man, a story which went viral on social media and Israeli news sites and necessitated the addition of 33 security guards to ensure the safety of all parties during the wedding this week. 

The statements also highlight deep divisions over the loyalties of Israeli Arabs in the eyes of the public, after rioting has persisted in Israeli Arab cities and communities following both the war in Gaza and the death of 16 year-old Arab teen, Mohammed Abu-Khdeir. 

Several of the riots have led to anti-Israel violence, and Palestinian Authority (PA) flags are often flown during the demonstration. 

Further alarm was raised this week when reports surfaced claiming that Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS) flags were flown in Israeli Arab communities, most notably in Akko and Nazareth. 

But a vocal minority of Israeli Arabs have been increasingly shunning anti-Zionist extremists. Apart from Druze and many Bedouin Arab-Israelis, many of whom serve in the IDF, an increasing number of Christians have been signing up for military service, and other Israeli Arabs have made a point of rejecting some of the more extreme statements made by Arab MKs.