[The following statement was issued by the undersigned and published by Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel on 27 February 2014]
We, the Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel, absolutely reject the new law enacted by the Knesset on 24 February 2014, which replaces Arab representation on a public advisory board of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with sectarian representation. This new law is a dangerous attempt by the state to distort the Arab identity of Palestinians in Israel. Despite its actual marginal impact, racist motives underlie this law and foreshadow the enactment of more racist bills and policies, which we will oppose.
We vehemently reject all attempts by the Israeli government to fragment and segregate the Arab Palestinian society along sectarian lines of Christians and Muslims. We assert that we were and will continue to be one people united – albeit with different religions and ideological affiliations – and an integral part of the Arab Palestinian people. We have the right to define our national identity, which is based on our Arab culture, language, common history, and on the unity of our destiny and our future as a single original group that remains in its homeland.
The political, colonial motives behind this law are similar to the approaches adopted by the apartheid regime in South Africa, and by the French in its colonial rule in Algeria, among others. It is a policy that seeks to fragment the original people of the land into small groups with narrowed identities to replace their national identity.
We view the Israeli government’s efforts to break up the collective national character of the Arab Palestinian minority as an integral part of its initiative to gain recognition of the state as a Jewish state, and to deny the existence of the Arab Palestinian minority as a national group with historical rights to and in this land. Therefore, we assert that we fully hold on to our historical rights, including our right to defining our identity in our homeland.
Organizations’ signatories: Adalah, Mossawa, Sidreh, the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab, the Follow-up Committee for Arab Education, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights – Nazareth, Baladna – Association for Arab Youth, I`lam Center, Aswat – Palestinian Lesbian Feminists, Social Development Committee – Haifa, The Arab Association for Human Rights, Kayan – Feminist Organization, Women Against Violence, Al Zahra Organization for the Advancement of Women’s Status, Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society, Nisa` wa Afaq, Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, Assiwar - Arab Feminist Movement.