Scholar visits CSUN to raise awareness for minority rights in Israel

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An Israeli scholar visited CSUN to help bring awareness to the lack of minority rights in Israel through her “Minority rights in Israel” lecture.

Dr. Ayelet Harel-Shalev, who received her Ph.D in Political Science from Tel Aviv University, specializes in minority rights, and was invited by the jewish studies department.

The event focused on Israel’s Arab-Palestinian minority group. Palestinian citizens now account for 20 percent of the population, according to the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.

But rather than dwelling on the uniqueness of Israel’s ethnonatinal minorities in a predominantly Jewish state, the event featured a comparative perspective to learn something from other states and different conflict resolutions, said Harel-Shalev, using India as her primary comparison, given its diverse demographics.

“Every nation has its minorities,” said Luis Carrillo, 21, a junior majoring in jewish studies, “(this was) a different perspective from a different country.”

“(Harel-Shalev) is a doctor from a different country, different culture and offers a different perspective,” he added.

In a nation where frequent ethnic conflicts exist and divided communities reside, one should not aim toward conflict resolution, but rather conflict reduction, Harel-Shalev said.

Conflict reduction connotes that there will not be a perfect democracy, but a balance between majority and minority relations. This is when countries can look at past failed democracies and learn from their lessons, according to Harel-Shalev.

Harel-Shalev emphasized that deeply divided nations only arise when two homeland communities, who resided in the territory before the formation of the state, quarrel. This is the inherent aspect of the conflict Israel is facing, she said.

She went to explain that nations comprised of several immigrant communities are not experiencing the political turmoil Israel is because most of the minority groups accept the laws of the country they immigrated to, like the Turkish minority in Germany.

Although the Israeli Declaration of Independence guarantees the “equality of social and political right to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” it often excludes the Arab-Palestinians, as noted by the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Arab-Palestinians are excluded linguistically, educationally and even in matrimony laws.

“They tried to implement a democracy in theory, but in practice it didn’t work,” Harel-Shalev said.

She pointed out examples of this exclusion such as the state symbols and the law of return, which grants Jewish people automatic Israeli citizenship, but not for Palestinians.

Most of the Arab-Palestinians want to be integrated with the rest of society, according to Harel-Shalev, who was quoting 2011 survey results. Most of the minority population would like for the state to become a binational state in order to attain full equality.

According to Sharif Dumani, 35, a junior majoring in History, the event emphasized the new trends that are happening in Israel, in regards to Arab-Palestinians wanting to integrate with the rest of society.

“I took that as a positive,” Dumani said.


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  • yulah11

    In your article you wrote – “They tried to implement a democracy in theory, but in practice it didn’t work,” Harel-Shalev said.
    Well, I heard the talk and she didn’t say that duirng the lecture : She said Israel is a democracy in a deeply divided sociey. Harel-Shalev said it is an Ethnic Denmocracy, and that the situation is complex. You should re-read the (helpful) handout.

  • VladLenin

    Bemoaning the “minority” status in Israel is kinda comical, as non-Muslim minorities throughout the Middle East are being purged, or killed.

    Israel is the least-worst treater of minorities in that hemisphere.

    Vlad