TEL AVIV - A prominent Israeli author has criticized Israel as the most racist state in the developed world, condemning its policies towards its Arab residents, Al Arabiya website reported on Thursday, June 28.
Israel can claim the title of most racist state in the developed world, Israeli author Sami Michael said at the opening of an international conference of the Association for Israel Studies at an Israeli university, according to a report in Haaretz newspaper.
Speaking at the conference, Michael added that racism is encouraged by Israeli cabinet members and fueled by increasing religious extremism in the country.
From kindergarten to old age we feed our children hatred, suspicion and disgust toward the stranger and the other, and especially toward the Arabs, he said.
Israeli culture is no less poisoned than the fanatic Islamic factions, he added.
Michael has previously called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel.
In his novels, Michael writes about the aspirations and struggles of both Jews and Arabs.
He is the author of non-fiction novels including These are the Tribes of Israel in 1984 and, more recently, Twelve Unbounded Ideas in 2000.
In March 2011, a new law passed by the Israeli Knesset enabling the court system to revoke citizenship of anyone convicted of espionage or helping the enemy has triggered uproar among Israeli rights activists as targeting Israeli-Arab minority.
The new legislation empowers the Israeli court system to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted on charges of terrorism, espionage, helping the enemy during time of war or any other act which harms national sovereignty.
The law came as a part of Lieberman's no loyalty, no citizenship campaign which he pushed during the run up to the 2009 elections, regarded as targeting Israel's Arab minority.
The Israeli author referred to recent polls which put Israel at deteriorated position on countries that are viewed negatively.
More than 60 years after the establishment of the Israeli state, the rift between European and Mizrahi Jewry [communities of the East] has not mended. It is reflected in racism and social gaps, Michael added at the speech.
To this day people from Arab states are underrepresented in the state's central institutions, especially academic and cultural ones.
Israel is in danger unless its leadership understands it isn't located in Europe's tranquil north but in the Middle East's seething center, said Michael.
Last May, Israel came third in a poll conducted by BBC World Service on countries that are viewed negatively.
Israel's standing among European nations suffered a blow with 74 percent in Spain saying they viewed the Zionist state negatively, followed by 69 percent in Germany, 68 percent in Britain and 65 percent in France.
When asked why Israel suffered such negative opinions, 45 percent of the respondents attributed it to the Israeli government's policies.
Other 27 percent said it was because of the country's bad relationship with its citizens, a report in Middle East Monitor published on Friday.
Israeli Arabs, who make up nearly a fifth of the population, are descendants of those who stayed when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Zionist gangs in1948, when Israel was founded on the rubble of Palestine.
Relations between Israel's Jews and Arabs have long been difficult, with Arabs complaining of discrimination.
A recent Israel Democracy Institute poll found that nearly half of Jewish Israelis don't want to live next door to Arabs, foreigners or mentally ill.
In December 2010, dozens of Jewish rabbis issued an edict against renting or selling real estate to non-Jews, particularly Arab citizens.
Earlier on October 2010, the Israeli government approved an amendment to Israel's Citizenship Act that would require all non-Jews taking Israeli citizenship to pledge loyalty to the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.