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Mayors' Use of Racist and Discriminatory Practices Toward Arab Workers

© Jose Hernandez |

Over the past two days, a series of official announcements were published in the media and on social networks, indicating that following the terror attacks last week, mayors suspended Arab workers, whether they were citizens, permanent residents, or Palestinians from the occupied territories. In the field of construction, pressure has been placed on contractors to shut down sites where Arab workers are employed, threatening that neglecting to do so will cause them detriment; and Arab school custodians have been instructed to arrive at their places of work in educational institutions, following standard operating hours.

In the appeal that we submitted to the Attorney General, Attorneys Gadeer Nicola and Abir Joubran Dakwar claimed that these actions violate the principles of the Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law; employees’ basic rights to equality, and living in dignity; deviate from local authorities’ bounds of jurisdiction; and even constitute an abuse of their authority toward contractors. We further claim that this and its accompanying declarations indicate collective punishment on the basis of national affiliation, which may further dampen spirits and increase tension. Such conduct deems the entire Arab population a dangerous “enemy” group, encouraging discrimination and potentially leading to acts of violence against them.

We thus requested that the Attorney General:

  • Make clear to the heads of local authorities that preventing Arab employees from coming to work, or conditioning their arrival on prerequisites, is an illegal act that constitutes discrimination on the basis of group and national affiliation, in violation of basic rights;

  • Make clear to the heads of local authorities that the decision regarding whether to permit or prohibit Palestinian workers’ entry into Israel, lies within the government’s authority or that of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and that they may not take the law into their own hands regarding this matter;

  • Make clear to the heads of local authorities that they must refrain from threatening contractors and conditioning their compliance with ceasing operations as a prerequisite for compliance with future municipal demands, as such threats constitute an abuse of authority.

  • Clarify procedures and guidelines as needed for the coming period.

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