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But many Eilatis do not want to help others. And some, like Simon Ben David - who is organizing a small grassroots organization called "The War against the Infiltrators from Africa" - simply deny that these African asylum seekers are indeed refugees.
Ben David added: "I believe, as I see in the newspaper, that some of them are from al Qaeda and they're from Hamas and Islamic Jihad," referring to several unsubstantiated reports that have appeared in the Israeli press.
Asked if he considers the city's campaign against Africans to be racist, Ben David simply answered, "Jews cannot be racist."
Eilat's economy is dependent on tourism. While many African asylum seekers are employed in local hotels, the commonly held idea that they have "stolen" jobs is untrue. These are jobs that Israelis do not want - which is one reason why government initiatives encouraging Israelis to move to Eilat and work in this sector have failed.
Other interviewees repeated Hajiani's claim that African refugees are robbing Israelis and raping Jewish woman. But according to statistics compiled by the Knesset, asylum seekers have a lower crime rate than Israelis. And in fact, as the community of asylum seekers grows, their crime rate goes down.
The number of Jews expressing feelings of hatred toward Arabs has doubled, the report stated.
According to the June 2007 Democracy Index of the Israel Democracy Institute, for example, only half the public believes that Jews and Arabs must have full equal rights.
My semi-Farsi accent in Hebrew and the darkness of my skin made me lose all the Jewish privileges I previously held. If I had dirty-blond hair and fair skin, I would just be another lefty Tel Aviv Jew. But that was not the case. So I went about my day receiving one dirty look after another, getting my entire bag searched before I entered any building, etc. The worst came as I was taking the bus from Tel Aviv to Holon. As I was on the bus, an Israeli man who spoke no English grabbed my arm and accused me of being a suicide bomber. He said that I was wearing a terrorist flag on my T-Shirt, and that I need to be forced off the bus. I tried to explain to him in Hebrew that I was just an American Jew that supported the peace process, but it was worthless. As if I was a black man in Apartheid South Africa this man asked to see my Teudat Zehut (Israeli Identity card). For those of you who do not know, this card is extremely important in sustaining the Israeli system of apartheid because even if you are an Israeli citizen, it lists whether you are a Jew or an Arab. Obviously I do not have one because I reside in the States. So, I decided to give in. There was a busload of people giving me unusual looks, and I just wanted it to end. So I showed him my Israeli passport to calm him down. But that too did not help. He specifically wanted my ID card, so that if I’m Arab I could leave the bus. Luckily for me, the bus driver did not listen to him, but neither did anybody stop him. As the man left the bus, an Israeli women told me that although he was being too intense, I must understand that my shirt represents terrorism (apparently the flag of Palestine calling for freedom from occupation is terrorism). She told me that every time she sees an Arab woman in a headscarf or people speaking Arabic in the streets, she fears for her life. I don’t think she understands that what she said was racist.
75.4% of them were Jewish (about 5,795,000 individuals), 20.4% were Arabs (About 1,571,000 inhabitants), while the remaining 4.3% (about 318,200 individuals) were defined as "others"
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.