Saturday, June 7, 2014

Caroline Glick: Ending Abbas’s Winning Streak

by Caroline Glick

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas holds a

Mahmoud Abbas must be great at cards.

The PLO chief has no real assets to speak of.

He’s physically unattractive. He has zero charisma. He’s old.

And no matter how hard he tries, Abbas can’t do much of anything to dampen public support for Hamas or raise public support for himself. By many accounts, if elections are ever held, Hamas would win them in a walk.

As for money, beyond the PLO’s slush fund, all Abbas has is what outsiders give him. He is completely dependent on the Americans, the Israelis, the Europeans and the Gulf states. Without them, he would have nothing to buy people’s loyalty with.

If the money ever stops coming in, he’ll go broke and lose power immediately.

Militarily, if Israel ever stops lending military support to Abbas’s forces, it will be a matter of weeks, or perhaps days, before Abbas will be forced to surrender to Hamas.

And yet today Abbas is sitting pretty on the top of the volcano that is Arab politics, dictating terms for people with real power while playing mind-boggling radical politics.

And he’s winning big.

This has been a great year for Abbas. In exchange for agreeing to humor the Obama administration with “negotiations” consisting of rejecting pro-Palestinian American peace proposals while refusing face-to-face contact with Israel for nine months, he got the Americans to force Israel to release several dozen terrorist murderers from prison.

He then abandoned the negotiations and effectively ended the peace process when he signed onto 15 international agreements as “the president of Palestine,” seeking to gain international recognition for a Palestinian state that is in a de facto state of war with Israel.

From there he went on secure his own power at the helm of Palestinian politics by signing the unity deal with Hamas.

It’s a win-win deal for Abbas and the genocidal jihadist group.

The deal frees Hamas from the financial burden of governing Gaza. The slack will be made up by the PA’s US, European and Israeli-financed budget. Hamas will be able to go back to using all of its own funds to run its 20,000-man army and expand its already massive arsenal of missiles.

Just as important, it will be able to rebuild its military and political infrastructures in Judea and Samaria.

Moreover, as a partner in the government, Hamas will have veto power over many of the Palestinian Authority’s governing decisions, so there will be no negotiations, no recognition, no cessation of terror assaults and no peace with Israel with this Palestinian government. Then again, none of these things was forthcoming with Abbas at the helm at any time.

As for Abbas, by signing the deal, he gets to deploy a ceremonial force to Gaza that will enable him to tell willfully credulous Americans that he is now in charge of Gaza, so they should feel comfortable giving him more taxpayer funds.

Abbas’s unity deal with Hamas renders the entire Palestinian Authority a terrorist organization. Modeled on Hezbollah’s deal with the Lebanese political leadership, the unity agreement formalizes the PLO’s role as Hamas’s protector and defender on the international scene. And it enables Hamas, as a member of the PA, to receive open assistance of every kind for its terrorist operations in Gaza and Judea and Samaria alike.

Since unlike Fatah, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU, the unity deal makes it unlawful for any of them to continue to cooperate with, let alone support, the PA in any way.

But that doesn’t seem to matter.

The US and the EU raced to see which one would recognize the new government first, while pledging to continue funding the PA to the tune of nearly $2 billion per year.

In Israel, the Left, led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, insists that Israel mustn’t cut off the PA, for doing so would end the peace process, which of course would be a disaster.

As for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the rest of his government, their non-rhetorical responses have been anemic.

So far the only financial steps the government has taken to curtail funding to the PA involves using some of the tax revenues Israel transmits to the PA to pay off some of the massive debt the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corporation. But Israel still turns over the remaining tax revenues to the PA. Israel remains the PA’s financial lifeline.

And this brings us back to Abbas.

Abbas is a successful politician because he knows what he wants and he is able to make the most of the cards he’s been dealt.

Abbas knows that his American, European and Israeli supporters are convinced they can’t make it without him. They don’t care that he is a radical. They will believe any lie – no matter how flimsy – to keep up the game of proclaiming him a moderate and a man of peace.

Abbas was certain that the same US, EU and Israeli Left that supported him through his demand to free terrorists, and to abrogate the property rights of Jews, the same forces that uphold him despite his rejection of Israel’s right to exist, his material breaches of the agreements he personally signed, and his general bad faith, would support his decision to join forces with Hamas.

The Israeli Left’s support for Abbas makes sense. Without Abbas it has no reason to exist. Without the myth that Israel has a Palestinian partner in peace, no one would give the likes of Livni the time of day. So she clings to him.

As for Netanyahu and his allies, their paralysis isn’t rooted in dependence on Abbas. They, like Israel would be far better off without him.

They are paralyzed by their fear of President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu and his colleagues know that like Abbas, the Obama administration has no problem with Hamas. Obama was courting Hamas through his then-campaign adviser Robert Malley as early as the 2008 presidential election. Malley is now a senior director on Obama’s National Security Council. And according to media reports in the US, Obama’s representatives have been holding talks with Hamas for the past six months.

In her statement on the new Fatah-Hamas government, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki didn’t even pretend that the administration has a problem supporting the terror tag team. Psaki said that since Hamas terrorists are not serving as ministers in the “technocratic” government that serves at their pleasure, the US will continue funding it.

This leaves us with the US Congress.

Congress may cut off funding to the PA despite Israeli cowardice. Certainly, initial responses from Republican and Democratic leaders alike have signaled that US lawmakers intend to abide by the laws that they passed and end all US financing of the PA terror government.

But it is still early in the game.

Congress understands that voting to cut off aid to the PA places its members on a collision course with the administration.

That’s fine for Republicans. But for Democrats, choosing the law over Obama may be a bridge too far. Past attempts have all failed.

And this brings us back to our frightened leaders.

All of Abbas’s great accomplishments over the past year have harmed Israel. Israel is more isolated today than it has ever been.

And this isolation redounds in large part to Abbas’s ability to exploit the US’s addiction to him. His success not only in forming the government with Hamas, but in securing US and EU support for it, is the worst blow so far. Israel now finds itself weaker diplomatically not only than Abbas, but than a genocidal terrorist group run by Iran.

This simply cannot continue.

The fact is that Israel has gotten nothing from playing along with American coddling of Abbas. It receives less support from Obama every day. And its willingness to go along to get along has demoralized and angered the Republicans who oppose what Obama is doing. It has given cover to Democrats who are loath to oppose the White House.

The time has come for Israel to stop playing this game, where the PLO gets to materially breach its agreements and so render them effectively null and void, while Israel, the sucker, keeps upholding them.

The time has come for Israel to stop collecting tax revenues for the PA. All of the money Israel collects and transfers to the PA is now serving Hamas directly.

And it isn’t enough to keep collecting, but stop transferring the revenues. The monies always end up being transferred eventually.

The only way to end this is by actually ceasing to serve as the PA’s taxman.

Obama won’t like it. But what’s he going to do? Facilitate Iran’s nuclear weapons program? Blame Israel for Palestinian aggression against it? Recognize and fund Hamas? The only way to get off this train is to get off. And disembarking is also the only way to impact US behavior. No single act by Israel will do more to empower the US Congress to stop funding the Palestinians than that.

And once that happens, a virtuous circle is formed, where at a minimum, Abbas’s winning streak will end.

Caroline Glick


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

American Taxpayers Now Paying the Salaries of Palestinian Terrorists

by Lee Smith

Some major turning points in the lives of nations announce their importance in plain sight, in front of TV cameras, while the whole world is watching, for example: Sept. 11 or the fall of the Berlin Wall come to mind. Others happen in secret. And still others try to slink away from the lights while clothed in the drab, everyday disguise of bureaucratic double-speak, as happened at a State Department press conference in Washington on Monday, at which a reporter wondered how America, once the leader of a global war on terrorism, would respond to the announcement of a Palestinian unity government that would include Hamas, which the State Department has clearly and repeatedly designated as a global terrorist organization.

"Based on what we know now," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told the press, "we intend to work with this government," adding that "if needed" the United States might "recalibrate our approach." Hidden beneath this deliberately boring verbiage was a shocking change in American foreign policy: Instead of making war on terrorists, America would henceforth be directly funding one of the largest and most deadly terrorist armies in the world.

Israel denounced the United States for accepting Abbas’ government, but many of the reporters in the room found nothing all that shocking in Psaki’s announcement. That’s not entirely their fault. Generations of American diplomats working on the Arab-Israeli conflict have been motivated by the conviction that there’s nothing to be lost—and plenty to be gained—by trying to make peace between the two sides. What harm could there be in getting the two sides in the same room to feel each other out, to explore possibilities and find common ground? Certainly that was the idea that inspired Secretary of State John Kerry, compelling him to make dozens of trips to Jerusalem and Ramallah over the past two years.

Yet Psaki’s announcement is, in fact, shocking. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ move on Monday to bring Hamas into a unity government with his own Fatah party means that U.S. taxpayers will be paying the salaries of men and women who belong to an organization sworn to the destruction of an American ally—and who repeatedly endorse and employ the murder of innocent civilians through the grim arsenal of terror as a means of achieving their goals. It is hard to imagine any significant number of Americans who would endorse blowing up women and children on buses, or sending shrapnel-laden suicide bombers into pizza parlors and discos, or sending volleys of rockets against kindergartens—let alone would want their tax money to wind up in the pockets of people who dream up and carry out such atrocities.

How did this happen? After all, it was Washington that invented the Palestinian Authority, The purpose of the PA was to placate America’s Arab partners, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while ensuring that the remaining regional troublemakers—from Saddam Hussein to the Islamic Republic of Iran—would be unable to use the Palestinian cause to their advantage. Moreover, it was believed that the easiest way to neutralize Yasser Arafat and the PLO was to suffocate him in a warm American embrace that would reward the scruffy old terrorist for good behavior, and hold out the promise of a late-life transformation into the Palestinian Nelson Mandela. It came as a shock to American policymakers that Arafat didn’t want to be Mandela; he wanted to be Saladdin, and if he couldn’t free Jerusalem with fire and blood he would rather die trying than go down in history as the traitor who relinquished the dream of a Palestinian homeland, the way that the Palestinians—not the Americans—imagined it.

Arafat was a hard case. But now the United States has been outfoxed by Mahmoud Abbas, a dull 79-year-old bureaucrat who is also regularly proclaimed to be "a man of peace" but who displays little interest in any aspect of governance besides collecting tribute from Western powers and daring them to call his bluff. In Abbas’ view, the Americans and the Israelis are not in control; he is. Without him, the White House loses control of the peace process, which is a key part of the American diplomatic patrimony in the region—an asset that the Obama Administration can ill afford to lose, especially now.

Abbas is therefore gambling that the Obama Administration will continue to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to whatever he proclaims to be the new Palestinian government. The White House is desperate, and so it doesn’t matter that including Hamas in a government is against the letter of U.S. law—indeed, a number of U.S. laws. The 2006Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, for instance, prohibits any U.S. funds from going to Hamas, Hamas-controlled entities, or a power-sharing PA government that includes Hamas as a member, or results from an agreement with Hamas. Most recently, the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibits "assistance to Hamas or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence."

That last clause regarding "undue influence," say some analysts, represents a loophole the administration may try to crawl through. "The White House may argue that since Abbas is still president of the PA, and since there aren’t really that many new Hamas members in the cabinet, Hamas does not have ‘undue influence,’ " says a senior official at a Washington-based pro-Israel organization. "But if that’s true, then why won’t the new PA cabinet disarm Hamas?"

That’s not going to happen, of course. One purpose of the deal is for Fatah to protect Hamas’ arsenal, which, so long as it’s pointed at Israel, will enhance the prestige of a PA president whose term in office was over five years ago, and who has failed at both the small-bore work of ending corruption, fixing roads, and providing real jobs for his people, as well as big-picture tasks like winning his people a state. Protecting the weapons of his rival, in other words, is all that Abbas has left to offer the Palestinians and that suits Hamas fine.

"If anyone expects Hamas to hand over its missile network to the PA, he’s making a big mistake," said one Hamas official. The reality is that Fatah has embraced Hamas.

Hamas has plenty to gain from the deal. Without the Iranian assistance that Hamas once enjoyed, what Gaza’s Islamic resistance needs most is some relief on the Egyptian side of the border. Cairo’s new ruler, Sisi, can afford to be magnanimous with Hamas, especially if it means he will inherit the Palestinian file in toto. Indeed, some Palestinianshope that Sisi will choose to confront Israel. In short, Palestinian reconciliation is good for everyone—except the United States and Israel.

The results for Israel are likely to be particularly unpleasant. Both Bush and Obama White Houses boasted that the security cooperation between Israel and the PA was excellent. But that seems over now since there is reportedly a clause in the Palestinian unity agreement that "criminalizes" security coordination with Israel. Perhaps, as many have feared over the last decade, those U.S.-trained Palestinian security forces will now turn their American weapons on an American ally, as they did during the second intifada. More such attacks will certainly follow, and some of them will be more successful—whether perpetrated directly by Hamas, or by Fatah, or some new terror entity in which both parties cooperate together.

Meanwhile, as crazy as it sounds, U.S. diplomats will continue searching for loopholes that allow us to fund officially designated terrorist organizations with taxpayer dollars. As Jonathan Schanzer, director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains "there are waivers embedded in the legislation, with which the president can override stipulations for reasons of national security or national interest. The assumption," says Schanzer, "is that Obama is going to override everything."

The administration will also be able to cite a regional precedent for its likely next step of embracing the new Palestinian "unity government" as a "partner for peace" while claiming that America is not funding terrorism. Hamas officials boast that they are now employing the "Hezbollah model"—i.e., becoming a political party that avoids responsibility for governance, while also maintaining an independent military organization that engages in terrorism. In other words, the PA will serve as legitimate cover while the Islamic resistance continues to wage its war of liberation against Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is an entity created by the United States, and it cannot exist without massive U.S. financial, political, military, and diplomatic support. Rather than finding ways around American law, the Obama Administration should be looking for ways to snap Abbas’ spine. If Kerry’s assiduous and careless peace processing was evidence of the administration’s incompetence, the decision to work with Hamas is evidence of the White House’s cravenness. The bill for this moral rot will be paid by Israelis—and by American taxpayers who will now be directly covering the salaries of thousands of card-carrying members of a terrorist organization. It’s not just Obama who will be crossing a red line by funding Hamas—he’s dragging the rest of us along with him into a political and moral swamp, in which America will combat terrorism with one hand, while paying for terror with the other.

Lee Smith


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Disaster in the Levant: the Syrian Civil War in its Fourth Year

by Jonathan Spyer

The Syrian Civil War is now grinding on into its fourth year. Over 150,000 people have died, and tens more are being killed every day in the ongoing fighting. Millions have lost their homes. Many will almost certainly never return to them. This is by far the greatest disaster to have hit the Levant in a generation. It has impacted not only Syria itself, but also its neighbours – with most profound implications for Iraq and Lebanon.

Syria today has in many ways ceased to exist as a coherent entity. Since mid-2012, the regime of Bashar Assad has ruled over only a minority of the territory of the country (about 40 per cent) and a bare majority of its population. No united successor regime has arisen in the area not controlled by the regime. Rather, a number of projects are under way.

Perhaps the most powerful and consequential of these is the Islamic proto-state controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organisation, stretching from Anbar and Ninawah provinces in western Iraq, up through eastern Syria to the Turkish border.

A Kurdish autonomous project has also emerged, ruling over three non-contiguous areas of majority Kurdish population in northern Syria. Elsewhere, a variety of rival Sunni Arab rebel groups have carved out fiefdoms of their own. The country today is a confusing patchwork of rival powers. The regime possesses a coherent entity stretching from the capital, Damascus and its environs, up to the western coastal area ­– the heartland of the Alawi sect to which the president belongs.

The regime has won a series of victories in recent months, first of all in the Qalamun mountains area, culminating in the capture of the town of Rankous. Regime forces followed this by clearing out the city of Homs, part of which had been held by the rebels since the first year of the uprising.

These achievements on the part of the regime were impressive. They led to it feeling sufficiently confident to announce presidential 'elections' in June. Assad also issued a statement predicting that military operations by his armed forces would conclude in 2014, leaving only the fight against terrorism.

Assad's renewed confidence appears somewhat misplaced, however. The dictator, with the very determined and consequential aid of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and various Iranian regional allies and proxies, has succeeded in ending any immediate danger to the regime's existence. This is a not inconsiderable achievement, when one considers that, at the end of 2012, the rebels appeared set to conquer Aleppo and begin a push for Damascus. In 2013 the regime succeeded in reversing this picture.

Yet as of now, at least, what this seems to mean is the consolidation of the lines that fragment Syria, and which render its borders increasingly fictional. Assad may have ring-fenced the capital and the west, but he is not even close to achieving the reunification of the country. The same weaknesses that caused the regime to abandon large swathes of Syria in the summer of 2012 remain relevant: the shortage of reliable manpower, and the inability to take and hold areas of rebel support.

Consequently, the foreseeable future for Syria appears to offer only fragmentation and continued war. To understand Syria today, it is important to understand that there is no longer a single 'civil war' taking place between a regime and a rebellion against it. Rather, there exists a variety of powerful entities in the country, each strong enough to prevent its destruction by any of the others.

The Assad regime in mid-2014

The Assad regime should not be seen as a single, unified structure. 'Regime' forces today constitute a network of interests, not all of which are under the direct command of Assad himself. Indeed, the most significant element of the forces engaged on behalf of the regime – namely, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force personnel and Hezbollah – do not take orders from the dictator.

Assad has from the outset enjoyed a very pronounced technical superiority over the rebels. He has maintained total control of the country's skies. He possesses also a missile and artillery capability, and strong international backing – from Iran, Russia and Iraq – a level of support not enjoyed by the rebellion.

His problem from the outset, however, has been a lack of reliable manpower. While on paper, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is large – approximately 295,000 regular soldiers – the great majority of these were Sunni Arab conscripts whom the regime could not trust once the rebellion began.

Assad could rely only on a number of select units – his special forces, the Republican Guard, and the 4th Armoured Division commanded by his brother Maher. These were augmented by the largely Alawi irregular forces known as the Shabiha.

In the course of 2013, the problem of a lack of reliable manpower was to an extent solved by the arrival of greater numbers of foreign fighters and, no less importantly, by the creation and training by the Quds Force and Hezbollah of a new militia force, the National Defence Forces, which operates as an auxiliary force for the regime. This force, established in the first months of 2013, numbers about 100,000 fighters.

The regime's lack of numbers was also addressed by the entry of a larger number of Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon ( there are an estimated 7,000 fighters in the country at any one time). In addition, Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other Shia Islamist loyalties have also entered Syria to operate on behalf of the regime.

So, in 2014, the 'regime' side looks like a coalition of pro-Iranian forces, of which the SAA forms only one element. But this reorganised pro-government side has enjoyed a series of successes over the last year, beginning with the reconquest of Qusayr in April 2013, continuing with the long offensive across the Qalamoun mountains area (which succeeded in closing rebel access to the Lebanese border) and, as of now, concluding with the expulsion of rebels from Homs and Rankous.

Politically, there are no indications of splits or fractures in the regime. Rather, Bashar Assad has succeeded throughout in preserving the core group around him, and since his fortunes have notably improved in the course of 2013, any internal fissures now look unlikely.

The international coalition behind him also remains solid. Recent reports detailing Iranian recruitment of Afghan Shia refugees to fight for the regime in Syria indicate not only the regime's continued concerns over manpower, but also Iran's continued commitment to Assad's survival. The regime's control over Damascus, the western coastal area and the roads linking them, and linking Damascus with Hama and Aleppo, are not currently under serious challenge.

The rebellion in mid-2014

The Syrian rebels have been stymied from the outset by two related factors: the absence of a united international coalition supporting them, and the absence of a single unified chain of command. Both these factors remain, yet it is noteworthy that the rebellion continues to command the loyalty of a large number of men willing to fight, and that despite its difficulties it does not appear to show signs of collapse.

The largest and most significant political-military grouping in the rebellion today is the Islamic Front (IF), consisting of approximately 60,000 fighters. This is a gathering of some of Syria's most powerful Islamist militias, including the Tawhid Brigade from the Aleppo area, Liwa al-Islam from Damascus and Suqur al-Sham. It includes also the avowedly Salafi group Ahrar al-Sham. Formed on 22 November 2013, the IF dominates rebel military activity in the northern part of the country and has been responsible for the recent offensive into northern Latakia province.

In addition to this force, a number of smaller rebel units of more moderate outlook and a number of more extreme jihadi formations are also operating: the Syrian Revolutionaries Front in Idleb Province, the smaller Harakat Hazm group and the recently formed coalition known as the Southern Front are all militant elements associated with the Supreme Military Council (SMC) headed by General Abdullah al-Bashir.

The SMC, in turn, regards itself as the military wing of the Syrian National Coalition, headed by Ahmed Jarba. It is doubtful, however, whether the various elements are actually subordinated to the SMC in any clear command and control structure. Rather, they identify broadly with the aims of the Council and some among them are the beneficiaries of Western and Saudi aid.

Regarding the jihadis, two elements have emerged to prominence since mid-2013: the Jabhat al-Nusra group and ISIS.

Nusra is regarded by the Al-Qaeda core leadership as its franchise in Syria. The group has proved able to cooperate with other rebel organisations, and is one of the most militarily effective of rebel military groups.

ISIS, formed in April 2013, has followed a far more radical and confrontational path than Nusra. It emerged from the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda and is commanded by an Iraqi, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. ISIS controls a large swath of territory stretching deep into Anbar and Ninawah provinces in western Iraq, up through Deir a Zor and Raqqa provinces in Syria and to the Turkish border. This area includes the only provincial capital city to have fallen into rebel hands – Raqqa city.

In this area, ISIS has begun to build its version of an Islamic state. This has included punishments of astonishing brutality, including a number of cases of crucifixion, and the introduction of systematised discrimination against Christians in the area. Through its actions against other rebels, and adoption of these extreme means, ISIS has alienated itself from other rebel groups, who commonly maintain that the group is supported by the regime.

No conclusive proof of this has emerged, however. It is also important to note that ISIS remains among the most militarily effective of the Islamist and jihadi organisations active in northern Syria. Facing the threat of attack from other rebel groups in January 2014, ISIS carried out a redeployment, abandoning Idleb and Latakia provinces and retrenching further east. This was not a military defeat for the group, but rather a deliberate redeployment. As one ISIS fighter described to me: 'If there are powers against me, I have to retreat and protect my back. And perhaps in the future I will return again.'

There is evidence that a 'war economy' has emerged among the rebels. Conversations with a number of sources suggest it has become the accepted practice for certain rebel commanders in the north of the country to allow regime garrisons besieged in isolated bases to bring in food, and even allow soldiers to enter and exit, in return for payment.

Similarly, in Aleppo city, possession of certain weapons systems and armoured vehicles by some rebel commanders has been turned into a source of income, with these men hiring the systems to other fighting groups in return for money. It is worth stressing that the groups suspected of engagement in this activity are not connected either to the IF or the jihadi groups. Rather, they are to be found among the 'moderate' formations.

The rebels on the ground remain severely disunited, but with some formidable elements among them, in no apparent danger of collapse.

In terms of their international backers, the situation is similarly confused. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar took the lead in assisting the rebels in the first part of the rebellion. At the present time, Qatar remains active in support of the more Islamist and jihadi elements, while Saudi Arabia is cooperating more closely with the US in supporting more moderate groups. But while the US has been reported to have carried out training and assistance to selected rebel groups on a limited basis, this has had only a small impact on the battlefield.

The US remains justifiably concerned at the possibility that weapons it provides could find their way into the hands of extremist jihadis. A large shipment of weaponry, sent by the Saudis in early 2012, included items which found their way into the hands of extremist elements. Informed sources revealed to me that items from a smaller shipment of TOW anti-tank missiles, sent to rebels in the north in April 2014, have already ended up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, despite supposed precautions taken by the US and the Saudis.


The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (commonly known as the YPG militia) have emerged as a 'third force' in the Syrian conflict. The party, the Syrian franchise of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), currently controls three non-contiguous land areas in northern Syria, to which it has given the collective name of 'Rojava.' The largest of these stretches from the Syrian-Iraqi border to the town of Ras al Ayin further west. The next, about 80 km further west, is an enclave surrounding the city of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab). A third enclave still further west surrounds the city of Afrin.

Within these areas, which the Kurds established after the withdrawal of regime forces from much of northern Syria in the summer of 2012, a governing authority dominated by the PYD and a number of allied parties has been established. While there have been allegations of heavy handedness by the Assad loyalist authorities against rival Kurdish groups, these areas constitute one of the most peaceful and effectively governed areas of northern Syria today. The YPG militia, roughly 50,000 strong, has also emerged as one of the most effective forces.

The Kurds regard themselves as pursuing a separate path to both the regime and the rebels, which has led to accusations by some rebel forces that the PYD is conspiring with the regime – despite the fact there have been instances of clashes between the regime forces and the YPG in Aleppo, Qamishli and elsewhere. For their part, the Kurds say they will defend their areas of control from all attackers, while not seeking to conquer further areas by force. The eastern and central Kurdish enclaves have been subject to ISIS assault, since they directly adjoin ISIS areas of control. But ISIS has not yet succeeded in conquering any part of the Kurdish-held areas.

Where next?

The balance of power, and hence the stalemate between the combatant sides in the Syrian conflict, shows no sign of being broken any time soon. The regime's recent gains in the west are significant, but only in so far as they serve to confirm that there is no immediate threat to the regime's own future. Assad is not currently in a position to begin to reconquer the main rebel-held areas, and he has not yet begun to do so.

A certain 'normalisation' of the war has set in, particularly in the north of the country. This has included the well-reported local 'ceasefire' agreements in a number of places, but also less known practices emerging in some areas where the war has become an avenue for personal power and enrichment.

There is no longer simply a 'rebel' and a 'regime' side in the war. The regime has itself become a complex network of forces, some of whom are clearly not under the control or command of Bashar Assad.

In areas not controlled by the regime, meanwhile, two of the most powerful forces – ISIS and the Kurds – are engaged in war with one another and each are in their turn regarded with hostility by the Sunni Islamist IF, which is also fighting Assad. To a degree, the IF, ISIS and the Kurdish governing authority may all be seen as embryonic, competing 'successor authorities' to the regime in the north of the country, which it departed in July 2012.

Given the military stalemate, the absence of any meaningful diplomatic process following the failed 'Geneva 2' conference and the continued commitment of the various sides to their own victory, the war in Syria looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. This is a tragedy for the people of Syria, over 150,000 of whom have already died, and for the region as a whole. The Syrian Civil War, the greatest disaster to hit the Levant for a generation, is still far from a conclusion.

Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst, author and journalist specialising in the areas of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and broader issues of regional strategy. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, a research centre located at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya (IDC), and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

It's Time to Stop Apologizing

by Dror Eydar

It is hard to escape the impression that the U.S. is much more understanding of the exciting union between Fatah and Hamas than of our construction in Jerusalem. When did building in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs become a "controversial" issue? What does our apology for such a basic thing mean?
The U.S. clerks should be sent the Hamas charter -- a political platform that mainly consists of killing Jews whenever and wherever and the negation of all agreements and compromise except wiping out Israel. The "moderate" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas found comfort in the embrace of this band of murderers. All over the world, hundreds of innocent people are killed every day by Islamist regimes and organizations, but 1,500 new housing units in Israel bother the Americans. This is what the superpower concerns itself with. Unbelievable!
Here is the clear significance of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority joining up: The conflict is not territorial but existential. The Palestinians have had many opportunities to end the conflict, including their talks with Tzipi Livni. Every time they were asked to sign off on the end of the conflict, they dodged. This time they have not only evaded peace, they have chosen to "unite" with an Islamofascist group. The bitter truth is that the political groups around us are not interested in territory, but in implementing the cause of the Palestinian movement since its inception -- the absolute nullification of the Zionist entity. What more evidence does the West require?
But the Americans cannot be more righteous than our own leftist organizations, including some within the government coalition. Even if the geopolitical reality has been entirely changed, they hold fast to their mystic belief in peace, which like the Messiah remains a vision for the End of Days, not for our time.
The Left's steadfast Pavlovian opposition to construction in the land of our life is sad evidence of the change in the DNA of those whose forebears set the borders of Israel by settling it and who are now laboring to dismantle the country, under the guise that they are concerned about peace. This activity by our own, along with the blindness of the U.S. State Department, feeds the Palestinian outrage at any Jewish root that is put down in the soil of Israel. Now they are threatening us -- ooooh.
The arrogant Arab threats are not new. They have followed us for 100 years. As we returned home to Zion we learned a lesson from the Jews who returned to Zion in the time of the Second Temple: then, as now, various groups around threatened to attack construction in Jerusalem and informed the authorities, but our forefathers persisted to build their city and their Land. It is time to stop apologizing.
Judea and Samaria are not Palestinian land; at the very most there is debate about them. We also demand full ownership of them. Our historic, legal, and religious rights to them are greater than those of Saeb Erekat and Abbas.
The fight to legitimize our hold on the land of our life depends to a large degree on our determined activity and a righteous stance. The government in Australia changed, and along with it the definition of construction in east Jerusalem. It is no longer "occupied territory" but Israeli territory, the Jewish people's only homeland.

Dror Eydar


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Spain to Deport Pakistani Refugee for Criticizing Islam

by Soeren Kern

"Okay, you Muslims, use violence, but we will continue to make films. One day, one of us will lose." — Imran Firasat.
Firasat argued that the expression of his views about Islam fall within the constitutional rights of free speech.
Two dissenting judges signed a statement in which they ask whether the source of the danger to national security is in the actions of Firasat or in the reactions of Islamic fundamentalists.
The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that a political refugee should be deported because his criticism of Islam poses "a danger to the security of Spain."

The May 30 ruling, which upholds an earlier decision by a lower court to revoke the refugee status of a Pakistani ex-Muslim named Imran Firasat, showcases how the fear of Muslim rage continues to threaten the exercise of free speech in Europe.

Firasat obtained political asylum in Spain in October 2006 because of death threats against him in both Pakistan and Indonesia for leaving the Islamic faith and marrying a non-Muslim.

Imran Firasat and his family.
Spanish authorities, however, took measures to deport Firasat in December 2012, after he released a one-hour amateur film entitled, "The Innocent Prophet: The Life of Mohammed from a Different Point of View." The movie, which was posted on YouTube, purports to raise awareness of the dangers of Islam to Western Civilization.

The film shows images of the Muslim terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, on double-decker buses in London and on commuter trains in Madrid. The movie, which features many passages from the Koran that threaten violence against non-Muslims, promises to answer the question: "Was Mohammed an inspired prophet of God, or was he a madman driven by his own demons, thus producing a religion of violence and tyranny?"

Firasat, who runs a website called (A World Without Islam), says he was inspired by another amateur film, "The Innocence of Muslims," which portrayed the Islamic Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and a pedophile. Released in September 2012, the movie triggered a wave of riots across Europe and the Middle East that resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people.

At the time, the Obama Administration falsely alleged that the film was responsible for the death of the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three others in Benghazi, Libya.

"When I heard that the U.S. ambassador was slain," Firasat told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen in December 2012. "I said okay, you Muslims, use violence, but we will continue to make films. One day one of us will lose."

Shortly after Firasat's film was released, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz initiated a process to review his refugee status.

A Foreign Ministry document, dated November 27, 2012, stated that "the consequences of the release of a video with such [anti-Islamic] characteristics are highly worrisome and constitute a real risk for Spanish interests because the author of the video identifies himself as a 'Spanish citizen.'"

The document added that Firasat's actions, including his threats to burn the Koran, were "destabilizing" and "heightened the risk of attacks against Spanish interests abroad, especially in the current context of the extreme sensitivity and indignation in the Muslim world."

Fernández issued an order on December 21, 2012 to deport Firasat based on Article 44 of the Law on Asylum and Protection, which allows the state to revoke the refugee status of "persons who constitute a threat to Spanish security." The deportation order stated that Firasat constituted a "persistent source of problems due to his constant threats against the Koran and Islam in general."

Firasat appealed the deportation order at the National Court [Audiencia Nacional], arguing that the expression of his views about Islam fall within the constitutional right to free speech.

But the National Court rejected Firasat's appeal. A ruling dated October 3, 2013 states:
"The right to the freedom of expression can be subject to certain formalities, conditions, restrictions or sanctions, which constitute necessary measures, in a democratic society, to preserve national security, public security and the constitutional order."
Now the Supreme Court has not only confirmed the National Court's ruling, but it has gone one step farther. Its ruling states:
"The right to the freedom of expression does not guarantee the right to intolerant manifestations or expressions that infringe against religious freedom, that have the character of blasphemy or that seek to offend religious convictions and do not contribute to the public debate."
This paragraph is strangely similar to an international blasphemy law being promoted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries dedicated to implementing a worldwide ban on "negative stereotyping of Islam."

Warning of potential trouble ahead for the exercise of free speech in Spain, two judges—Manuel Campos and Isabella Perelló—dissented from the majority opinion. They signed a statement in which they ask whether the source of the danger to national security is in the actions of Firasat, or in the reactions of Islamic fundamentalists. They write:
"The pernicious effects against national security do not strictly derive from the conduct of the refugee, but rather from the violent reactions of third persons."
Although Firasat can now be deported, the court says he and his family will not be delivered "to a country where there is danger to life or freedom." It remains unclear whether Firasat will appeal the Spanish high court ruling at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Strasbourg-based ECHR enforces the European Convention on Human Rights and its jurisdiction is compulsory and binding for all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

In a December 2012 interview with the online newspaper International Business Times [IBT], Firasat said he has received far more threats from the Spanish government than from angry Muslims. He said:
"Seven years ago I was granted refugee status in Spain for the reason that I used to criticize Islam. Since then I have taken the fight against Islam very far. And my right to freedom of expression was always respected by this great country. But now suddenly for doing the same thing which I have been doing for the last seven years, I have been threatened by the authorities [and told] that my refugee status will be revoked. I will be deported back to Pakistan where the death penalty for blasphemy is waiting for me."
IBT asked Firasat: "What made the Spanish authorities 'suddenly threaten' you? What could be the reason?" Firasat responded:
"That's a very funny, interesting and surprising question even for me. Why now? I was granted asylum because of my criticisms of Islam. I have formally asked the Spanish government for the prohibition of Koran in Spain. I have given thousands of interviews to radio and TV channels. I wrote articles in newspapers. But I was never told by anyone that what I am doing is illegal. Now suddenly they try to revoke my refugee status, detain me and prosecute me for offending Muslims' religious sentiments. Why? There may be two reasons: Fear of violence by Muslims abroad and in Spain, and conflicts in diplomatic relations with Islamic countries which are investing in Spain... This is not the Spain where I arrived seven years ago and where there was complete liberty of expression."
Some free speech activists say that Firasat is himself guilty of seeking to restrict free speech. In March 2012, Firasat filed a 10-point petition with the Spanish government asking that it ban the Koran in Spain.

In an interview with the Spanish business newspaper La Gaceta (no longer online), Firasat explained why he submitted the petition:
"There are hundreds of verses in the Koran that encourage believers to kill, hate, discriminate, exact revenge and torture women. A book that promotes violence should not be circulating in a free and democratic society. In the last 10 years, all terrorist attacks have been promoted by Islamic jihad as contained in the Koran.
"Over 100 places in the Koran mention the phrases such as 'go to war' or 'kill all the infidels until everyone is submitted to Allah.' And the Koran requires Muslims to continue to fight jihad until it has captured the Western world, its freedoms and its religion at any cost.
"I formally asked the government of Spain to ban the Koran in Spain. It is a book that cannot exist in our free society. There are millions of Muslims who follow the book, but we cannot allow millions of other people who want to live in peace and in freedom and enjoy human rights to suffer and die. I do not understand why the Spanish penal code, the Spanish constitution and the European constitution prohibit violence of any kind and yet close their eyes when talking about the Koran."
Two days after filing his petition to outlaw the Koran, the Spanish National Police [Policía Nacional] called Firasat in for questioning after it emerged that he wanted to burn a Koran at the Plaza del Sol in central Madrid.

According to a police statement dated March 5, 2012, agents asked Firasat if he "understood that his actions could hurt the religious sensibilities of those who profess the Muslim faith." He was also asked if he was "conscious that the burning of the Koran could be considered a crime" according to Title XXI, Chapter IV, Sections 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code [referring to crimes against offending religious sentiments]."

After reviewing his website with the police, Firasat said: "I am not hurting the feelings of any Muslim. Rather, I am taking an action that seems necessary against a book which gives the message of jihad: killing, hatred, violence and discrimination, which in no way is compatible with Spanish law."

Firasat summed up his feelings in a newspaper interview: "Fighting the injustice of Islam is not so easy. On the one hand there are the Islamists who are seeking to kill me, and on the other side our own police, our own system which seeks to intimidate me and dissuade me from confronting Islam."

Soeren Kern


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Melanie Phillips: Europe's more Complicated Problem

by Melanie Phillips


The way to nip the European neo-fascist movement in the bud is for Europe to become once again an alliance of self-governing nation-states.

Far-right Jobbik party rally in Budapest, May 4, 2013
Far-right Jobbik party rally in Budapest, May 4, 2013 
The Jewish world has reacted with horror to the results of the European elections as displaying an upsurge of parties promoting Jew-hatred. Certainly, the results give plenty of cause for such concern. But in significant respects, such a response is wildly off-beam.

Some parties which surged, such as Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik and Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD), are undoubtedly fascist or bigoted. And France’s National Front, which avoids the open Jew-hatred of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, nevertheless retains troubling undertones.

But others lumped in with these truly noxious parties by anti-Semitism-watchers are not racist or fascist at all. Britain’s UKIP wants Britain to leave the EU, restore its democratic self-government and preserve its national identity. In Italy, the former comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars movement campaigns against political corruption.

In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party is against Islamization and non-Western immigration and wants to maintain the Danish monarchy and uphold the Danish constitution. In Finland, the Finns Party welcomes work-based immigration and requires immigrants to accept Finnish cultural norms.

All these parties are being smeared by association with truly racist and fascist groups as giving cause for concern. Two important errors are being made here. The first is to confuse the populist defense of national identity with fascism and bigotry. The second is to assume that only the EU stands between us and the fascist hordes.

In fact, it’s the EU that has created all these groups, both populist democrats and anti-democrats.

The EU was founded in the wake of World War II on the assumption that nationalism was the cause of fascism. Subsume national identity by pooling sovereignty among member states, went the thinking, and nationalism would be abolished and with it prejudice and war.

The EU’s supra-identity necessarily entailed the free movement of populations between those member states. That in turn reinforced the idea of multiculturalism, which meant that no culture could assert its values over any other.

This was supposed to outlaw bigotry. Instead, it outlawed all those who wanted to uphold their national identity and culture and give it political expression through democratic self-government.

There is nothing inherently racist to want to preserve your country’s cultural identity rather than see it transformed into a kind of international transit lounge by unlimited migration – or worse, steadily Islamized by radical Muslims who aim to colonize the West for Islam.

The desire to wipe out a national culture and its expression through self-government is itself a kind of fascism. Yet it is those who defend national identity who are denounced as racists or fascists.

Across Europe, mainstream political parties have all colluded in this process. The deeply anti-democratic EU has ridden roughshod over national identity and democratic institutions.

To fill that dangerous vacuum, new parties have arisen which alone are prepared to address such concerns. And some of those parties are indeed odious and frightening.

In Greece, Golden Dawn members have attacked immigrants, political opponents and minorities and are frequently responsible for anti-Semitic graffiti. Its spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris wrote in 2011, “What would the future of Europe and the whole modern world be like if World War II hadn’t stopped the renewing route of National Socialism?” Hungary’s Jobbik party is deeply racist and anti-Jew. In November 2012, its deputy parliamentary leader, Márton Gvöngvösi, said it was “timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary.”

In 2005, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said of the NPD that it “unabashedly aims towards the abolition of parliamentary democracy and the democratic constitutional state” and that its statements “document an essential affinity with National Socialism.”

These are truly fascist, anti-Jewish and bigoted parties. It is a grotesque travesty to lump these together with UKIP and other defenders of Western democratic traditions and culture.

In fact, by far the biggest threat currently facing the Jews of Europe comes from the ugly alliance between left-wingers and Islamists, whipped up by the campaign of incitement against Israel.

The man arrested in Marseilles over the deadly attack two weeks ago on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, which left four dead, was a French Muslim who had spent much of last year with jihadi fighters in Syria.

In 2006, a young French Jew, Ilan Halimi, was tortured and murdered by a Muslim gang. In 2013, another French Muslim murdered four Jews in Toulouse.

The anti-Semitism researcher Manfred Gerstenfeld has pointed out that, while far from all Muslims in Western Europe are anti-Semites, a large percentage are just that and from a young age. In 2011, a study of 117 interviews with Muslim youths in Berlin, Paris and London found most of them expressing strong and often aggressive anti-Jewish feelings. In Copenhagen, all main assaults on Jews have been perpetrated by Arabs. In the Swedish city of Malmö, the many attacks on Jews there have almost all been carried out by Muslims.

Yet Jewish communities don’t campaign against this Islamic violence. Indeed, in the UK at least they are more likely to campaign against those who campaign against it. Incredibly, prominent fighters for Israel and the Jewish people – both Jews and non-Jews – but who also campaign against Islamic extremism find themselves bad-mouthed as “Islamophobes” by elements within the UK Jewish leadership.

For understandable reasons, Diaspora Jews tend to have a knee-jerk reaction against anyone who opposes immigration – even though today’s mass movement of populations from south to north is a world apart from the minuscule Jewish migration patterns of the past.

To such Diaspora Jews, anyone who speaks against mass immigration or Islamic extremism is a racist or Islamophobe – and therefore a heartbeat away from fascism.

As a result, such Jews provide cover for Islamic Jew-hatred while falsely damning Western patriots – and their own natural allies – as fascists.

The way to nip the European neo-fascist movement in the bud is for Europe to become once again an alliance of self-governing nation-states.

Jews, meanwhile, should stop those knees from jerking and start to realize that Jew-hatred is not just a right-wing phenomenon.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for the Times (UK).


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Myth of Ethnic Inequality in Israel

by Steven Plaut

It is commonplace to attribute much of Israel’s domestic tensions to supposed Jewish discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens.[1] Nearly every Israeli Arab nongovernmental organization insists that such discrimination characterizes the Jewish state in general and its labor markets in particular.[2] The Israeli media routinely interview Israeli Arabs (and non-Ashkenazi Jews) who claim to have been victims of discrimination. These allegations are echoed by Jewish Israeli academics, think tanks, and journalists, especially on the political Left, not to mention the international anti-Israel movement and the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign. Indeed, the U.S. Department of State has even joined the growing outcry concerning Israel’s alleged racist discrimination against its Arab citizens.[3]

Of course, in reality, Israel is the only Middle Eastern entity that is not an apartheid regime, and the apartheid slander holds no water whatsoever save in the minds of the Jewish state’s enemies and defamers. Yet discrimination is a scientifically empirical question subject to testing and not a matter of subjective personal opinion. Stripping away the venomous anti-Israel rhetoric, the legitimate question remains whether and how much discrimination really exists in Israel.

Inequality Myths
Ethnicity in Israel is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. Both Jews and Arabs are subdivided into ethnic sub-groups, making exploration and analysis of ethnic disparities a complex challenge. In official statistical data on income, Israeli Arabs are treated as a single population group, but this is somewhat misleading. There are important differences in socio-economic status and performance among Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, and Druse. Those sub-categories are in fact amalgams of even smaller divisions. For example, there are interesting differences between “ordinary” Arab Muslims and Bedouins. The Israeli Income Survey sample does not include the Arab population of the “occupied territories,” except for East Jerusalem and the small population of the Golan Heights, both of which are formally annexed to Israel.

Ethnicity among Jews is even more complex. It is commonly measured in Israel for statistical purposes based upon the continent of birth of the person or the person’s father. Jews born in Asia and Africa (or the children of fathers born there) correspond roughly to Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews. Those born in Europe, the United States, or Australia (and their children) correspond roughly to Ashkenazi or Western Jews. These distinctions are imperfect as there are Ashkenazi Jews who come from Asia and Africa (including South Africa and some Egyptian Jews) and Sephardic Jews who come from Europe (including from Greece, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria). Over time this “continent of birth” criterion for defining ethnicity is losing its validity because of the rapid increase in native-born Israelis who are themselves sons and daughters of native-born Israelis. In addition, the high intermarriage rate among Jews in Israel from different communities is blurring ethnic distinctions.[4]

Before tackling the specific patterns of ethnic inequality and discrimination in Israeli labor markets, it is necessary to dispose of certain myths and superstitions, beginning with the assumption that heterogeneity proves discrimination. It is a common but mistaken belief that, in the absence of discrimination, the numerical representation in any profession or wage range for all groups in a society should be the same as the proportion of that group in the general population. This might be called the false axiom of “natural homogeneity.” Thus if Group A is over-represented in a profession, compared with its weight in the general population, then it must be the beneficiary of discrimination in its favor. If Group B is under-represented, it must be suffering from discrimination against its members. Many then conclude that affirmative action quotas are needed to remedy the problem. This is known as the “disparate impact” standard or pseudo-evidence.[5]

But the axiom of natural homogeneity is completely specious. Nowhere in the real world does fair competition produce homogeneous representation in any market. Indeed, the only way in which such homogeneity can be achieved is through a rigid anti-competitive system of assignments in hiring or admissions by quota, one that suppresses individual interests, skills, culture, economics, family, educational and regional backgrounds, and meritocracy.

The world is full of examples of radical departures from numerical homogeneity in representation that clearly have nothing at all to do with discrimination: Jews around the world are over-represented among those admitted into universities relative to their numbers in the general population even in countries that have official policies of discriminating against Jews. Asian Americans are also over-represented among U.S. college students but not because these colleges discriminate against non-Asians. American blacks are not prominent in sports because of anti-white discrimination. About 60 percent of the medical students in Israel are women, and this is not because the medical schools discriminate against men. Israeli Arabs are grossly over-represented among students in schools of pharmacy, and it is not because these schools discriminate against Jews. Men are enormously over-represented among the prison populations in all countries, and it is not because of gender discrimination. And so on and so forth.

About 60 percent of Israeli medical students are women while Israeli Arabs are over-represented in schools of pharmacy. This is not because these schools discriminate against male Jews. Israeli Arabs own proportionately twice as many cars as Israeli Jews; no one has suggested that this attests to discrimination against Jews.
The fallaciousness of the idea that discrimination is proven by deviation from numerical homogeneity in representation cannot be over-emphasized. It crops up in almost every debate about ethnic or gender discrimination. When feminists, media commentators, and even many academics wish to prove that discrimination exists, their proof usually consists of presenting numbers that show departure from homogeneity. Such figures are selected when they serve the agenda of the commentator or advocate. Yet it turns out that Israeli Arabs own proportionately twice as many cars as Israeli Jews;[6] no one has suggested that this attests to discrimination in Israel against Jews.

In 2013, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran an exposé about supposed discrimination against Israeli Arabs by Israeli banks, which quickly became the focus of a parliamentary investigation.[7] The alleged evidence was that Israeli Arabs were paying, on average, higher bank fees than Jews for certain services. But a closer look showed that Arab bank accounts tend to be held in small rural banks with higher per-unit costs and may both be smaller on average and in different sorts of accounts than those held by Jews. For example, Arabs hold fewer long-term provident savings or retirement accounts, in part because the age structure of the Arab population is younger than its Jewish counterpart. All this results in different arrays of fees being charged but has nothing to do with discrimination. However, such an explanation would provide little sensationalist grist for the media or headline-grabbing power for politicians.
If numerical representation and deviation from natural homogeneity add nothing in terms of understanding discrimination, what about analyzing differences in wages and salaries directly? It would seem that if discrimination does indeed exist in a society, the most promising arena to seek it out is the labor market. But here, too, problems exist.
Analysis of possible discrimination as reflected in labor market wages has the advantage of being able to utilize a rich data set, unlike other markets in which discrimination is alleged. It also matters more. Few, including Arab leaders, would care very much if, after controlling for all the other possible explanations, Israeli Arabs were really paying higher bank fees than Jews. But everyone would think it is important if Arabs were the victims of wage discrimination. Having noted this, it still needs to be emphasized that the mere documentation of a disparity in wages between Jews and Arabs does not in and of itself prove anything, much less discrimination.
Consider the following situation: Suppose that it is found that 45-year-old Israeli Jewish software engineers with postgraduate degrees earn several times the wages of 20-year-old Arab youths who never finished high school. Would this datum be evidence of discrimination against Arabs in the labor market?
Of course, 45-year-old engineers in any ethnic population generally earn far more than 20-year-old high school dropouts. Their labor is simply worth more, and the market prices it accordingly. If one controls for education, age, and field of study, it is possible to compare 45-year-old Jewish engineers with Arab engineers, or 20-year-old Jewish with Arab high school dropouts, to see if there are any residual gaps in wages. There could also be other factors not yet taken into account that explain observed residual disparities, for example, disparities between wages in rural/peripheral labor markets and those in metropolitan areas. Any suspected ethnic discrimination is tentative and needs to be assessed in light of many other non-ethnic factors that affect wages.
Special attention needs to be paid to differences in labor force participation rates. Arab women in Israel, especially married Muslim women, have very low participation rates. This means that most employed Arab women are young and not yet married, which in turn generates a considerable gap in earnings levels when compared with Jewish women (and men of all groups). Gender differences in wages must be separated out to understand patterns of ethnic inequality.
It has been demonstrated in other countries that something as innocuous as age structure may often explain a considerable portion of disparities in earnings across ethnic/racial groups. For example, the eminent economist Thomas Sowell has demonstrated that one of the major causes for racial inequality in the United States is age difference, with the black and Hispanic population considerably younger than the white population for a variety of demographic reasons. He pointed out that “Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans have median ages of less than twenty years while the average Irish American or Italian American is more than thirty years old, and Jewish Americans are over forty.”[8] Since 40-year-olds invariably earn far more than 20-year-olds, a significant portion of earnings disparities among American ethnic groups reflects nothing more than age structure differences.
Age structure also explains part of the earning differences in Israel since Israeli Jews are on average considerably older than Israeli Arabs, particularly Israeli Muslims. It is estimated that the median age of Muslim Israelis is 19 while the median age of Jewish Israelis is 31.[9] (Interestingly, Christian Arabs have an age structure similar to that of Jews, with median age 30, and also have mean earnings very close to those of Jews.) So an age-explained earnings gap similar to that in the United States arises where age explains part of ethnic inequality.
Data and Raw Inequality Patterns
The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) conducts an annual survey of income and wages. It is a large, scientifically-designed, representative survey that covers the entire Israeli population excluding the population in the “occupied territories,” foreign temporary workers, and tourists. The CBS is staffed with professional statisticians of the highest caliber, and its operations are in line with international standards of professionalism and integrity.
Part of the income survey is based on households (N = 14,996) and measures income at the household level from various sources. Another is based on income from salary and other sources for individual earners (N=35,680) aged over 15. A household can have multiple earners. Income measured includes that from salaries, self-employment, capital, pension, alimony, social insurance, governmental support, and other categories.[10] Other variables contained in the survey include age, marital status, schooling, ethnicity, occupation, and location of residence.[11]
What does the income survey show about ethnic inequality in Israel? One can begin to digest the data starting with the raw numbers and measures of earnings, not adjusted for variables such as age and years of schooling. These numbers explain little about actual patterns of income inequality in Israel but offer a starting point for exploration.
In the Israeli “Income Survey of 2011,” the average salary for the entire population of Israeli Arab males was 50.2 percent of the mean for the entire population of Jewish males. Jewish females on average earned salaries that were 61.8 percent of those of Jewish males. Arab females earned only 34 percent of the salaries of Arab males and 28 percent of the salaries of Jewish females,[12] but this was no doubt in part because of part-time employment common among Arab women. Raw household income disparities follow a somewhat different pattern because salaries are only one component of household income. Household income for Arabs was about 55 percent that of Jews. While these raw disparities appear large, they are not unusual when comparing across ethnic populations within countries. The real question remains what is causing them.
There are also disparities in the raw figures among subgroups of Jews, to some extent caused by age structure. The groups with the highest salaries and household incomes are native-born Jews. Those born elsewhere are usually divided between recent immigrants and earlier immigrants. The dividing line for distinguishing recent immigrants is necessarily arbitrary; in the discussion here, the cutoff used is 1990. In the last two decades, the largest group of new immigrants has been from the former Soviet Union. A separate smaller group, about whose economic performance relatively little is known, consists of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia. These will be separated out here from other immigrants by distinguishing them as recent immigrants born in Africa. This, too, is an imperfect measure, and some Jews from North African countries and from South Africa are probably mixed into this sub-sample definition as well.
Among native-born Israelis, the Ashkenazi males earn 16 percent more than the Mizrahi/Sephardic males. Ashkenazi and Mizrahi females earn exactly the same average salaries, which are about 40 percent lower than for native-born Ashkenazi males. Among foreign-born Jews, Mizrahim earn average salaries 32 percent lower than Ashkenazim for males, and 39 percent lower for females. Women in all population groups earn less than men in the same groups.
So the starting point is a set of seemingly wide disparities in average earnings across Israeli ethnic groups. Jews earn more than Arabs, in fact twice as much on average; women earn less than men; Mizrahim earn less than Ashkenazim. Two additional caveats need to be mentioned. First, these numbers are based on reported salaries. While survey respondents were told the information was confidential and would not be passed on to the tax authorities, it is possible that some of the salary numbers are in fact under-reported. Israel is thought to have a significant underground or unreported economy where cash is earned under the table. For a variety of reasons, including concentrations in occupations in which non-reporting is easier and more common, it is generally believed that non-reporting of income is higher among Arabs than among Jews.
An additional caveat is that disparities across ethnic groups in salaries and in household income are different from disparities in household expenditures. Standards of living are ultimately measured in real consumption rather than in monetary terms, and in Israel, gaps in levels of expenditure among the ethnic groups are considerably smaller than those in salaries or incomes. In addition, intentional under-reporting of income is unlikely to affect reported levels of expenditure, and so these data may be more reliable. The bottom line is that raw inequality among Israeli ethnic groups is considerably smaller when measured in terms of expenditures rather than incomes.
Analysis of Individual Salary and Earnings
To understand properly the role of ethnicity in explaining disparities in earnings, one needs to take into account other non-ethnic factors that affect earnings, notably gender, age, education (measured in several different ways), marital status, number of persons in household, immigration status (new immigrant vs. not), membership in certain elite professions such as manager or engineer, and geographic variables (residence in one of the large cities, in medium-sized towns, etc.). Statistical estimates of the impact upon earnings by individuals of a variety of ethnic, demographic, and other factors are presented in Table 1 below.
First, after controlling for age, education, and other non-ethnic explanatory variables, is it really the case that Arabs underperform in the Israeli labor market when compared with Jews? The answer is generally, no. It does depend on which definition of earnings is being used.
When estimating only salaries for both men and women together (not shown in the table), Arabs do indeed underperform when compared with Jews. The difference is not very large (approximately 450 shekels a month or a bit over $100), and this is very small when compared to the raw disparity between earnings of Jews and Arabs, seen above as being approximately a 100 percent difference. The disadvantage in salary earnings for Arabs is about the same as that experienced by Jewish new immigrants in Israel.
But salaries are only one component of individual earnings. Salaries are what employees receive from employers while “all individual earnings” include things such as self-employed income by artisans or shop-owners or owners of proprietary establishments. Such self-employed and proprietary income is probably more common among Arabs than Jews, the latter being more likely to be salaried employees. The numbers in the table here show the results when analyzing all individual earnings from all sources, including such non-salary sources. When controlling for age, schooling, and the other non-ethnic factors, Israeli Arabs outperform Jews on average, earning more than Jews of similar age and schooling levels. Indeed, on average Arabs earn more than both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, about 9 percent higher, other things being equal.
The fact that the labor market disadvantage of Israeli Arabs disappears entirely when total individual earnings (as opposed to salaries alone) are analyzed may be because many Arabs are self-employed.[13] In any case, it turns out that not only do non-ethnic factors explain the bulk of the raw disparity in earnings between Israeli Arabs and Jews, but in many cases they explain more than the total disparity. In the case of total individual earnings income, they explain more than 100 percent of the raw disparity (meaning that, after controlling for explanatory variables, Arabs actually outperform Jews).
The picture becomes clearer when men and women earners are analyzed separately. This has the advantage of removing gender differences in labor force participation rates from the analysis of the role of ethnicity. The gap in earnings for Arab women compared with Jewish women is quite small when controlling for other variables; it is only about 2 percent to the advantage of Jews. But for males, Arabs are at a 10 percent advantage over Jews in total individual earnings. Again, Arabs outperform Jews.
It is important to distinguish between salaries and earnings. For example, Israeli Arab males may make on average 50 percent less than Israeli Jewish males in salary, but in earnings (which include income sources such as self-employment), they out-perform Israeli Jews by approximately 9 percent on average.

Arabs also have a disadvantage compared with Jews when it comes to total household earnings (not shown in the table), as opposed to total individual earnings. But the wider gap at the household earnings level is due to factors outside the labor market. Jews have higher savings rates than Arabs, and thus have higher levels of household capital income.[14] Jews are also older and so receive on average higher amounts of retirement income. These disparities in non-labor income at the level of households largely reflect differences between Jews and Arabs in savings behavior and household composition and cannot be attributed to labor market discrimination.

What about disparities across ethnic sub-groups of Israeli Jews? The first notable pattern is this: The main group that over-performs compared with others is native-born Israeli Jews or sabras. Being born in the country confers a distinct earnings advantage in Israel as it does in most other countries. There is a modest advantage in income, about 8 percent for men and 2 percent for women, for those who are native-born Israeli Jews, compared with those who are foreign-born. And this is true for both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews.

When controlling for other non-ethnic factors, Ashkenazim have a small advantage over Mizrahim among men, about 2 percent for total individual income and 4 percent for salary alone, much smaller than the gap in the raw earnings numbers, and much smaller than the premium enjoyed by native-born Jews. For women, Ashkenazim slightly underperform Mizrahim. More generally, because of the advantage of being a sabra, a native-born Mizrahi Jew would generally outperform a non-native Ashkenazi Jew, other things being equal. When men and women are separated in the analysis of earnings, the “natives” retain an earnings advantage among both genders. Mizrahi Jewish women are outperforming the Ashkenazi Jewish women.

Recent immigrants in Israel are at an earnings disadvantage compared to the other population groups. Controlling for age, education, and the other non-ethnic factors, recent immigrants earn about 5.5 percent less in total individual earnings while for salary alone (not shown in the table), they earn 10-14 percent less than other Israelis. The earnings disadvantage is larger for men than for women. Interestingly, immigrants from Africa (mainly Ethiopians) do not suffer from any special earnings disadvantage as compared with the earnings levels of all recent immigrants. All immigrants are at a modest disadvantage in the labor market, but Ethiopians no more so than non-Ethiopian immigrants. When men and women are analyzed separately, Ethiopians slightly outperform the other immigrants.

Are Israeli Arabs Disadvantaged Because of Schooling?
Economists like to describe schooling and degrees as “human capital,” and it is possible to measure the returns or market rewards to this capital using statistical methodologies. One issue that has frequently been debated in Israel is whether educated Arabs are at a market disadvantage, since—because of discrimination—they are less capable of capitalizing upon their educational achievements.[15]

Once again, the presumption of discrimination does not survive empirical statistical analysis. The truth is quite the opposite: The return on schooling for Israeli Arabs is generally considerably higher than it is for Israeli Jews. In almost every estimate, using different measures of schooling and of earnings, the return on education appears to be higher for Arabs after controlling statistically for other variables.[16] This is true both for salaries and for all individual earnings. Since the reward for educational achievement is, if anything, higher for Arabs than for Jews, this rules out the claim of systematic discrimination against Arabs who accumulate human capital and capitalize upon it in the labor market.

The return on schooling is not the same, however, as the reward for membership in elite professions. Arabs, like Jews, who are members of managerial or other professional groups (lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.) enjoy a significant earnings advantage over those who are not members of these groups. The bonus or premium for Arabs, however, is lower than that for Jews. Discrimination cannot be ruled out as a causal factor here although other factors unrelated to discrimination could also explain these disparities, including differences in distribution among professions within the broader elite professional categories.

Where Is the Apartheid?
The most surprising conclusion from the econometric analysis of ethnic earnings disparities in Israel is how many of the stereotypical characterizations of Israel turn out to be false. Ethnicity in Israel simply does not play a large role in the labor market, in contrast with gender or schooling.

While it is widely presumed that the Arab minority underperforms in the labor market of the Jewish state, either because of discrimination or other structural or cultural disadvantages, this turns out not to be so. That accusation is central to the claim that Israel is some sort of apartheid regime. While the raw mean earnings of Arabs are considerably lower than those of Jews, the two populations differ in many significant ways, including age and schooling, and little can be concluded from this raw comparison on its own. When education, age, marital status, geographic location, and professional group membership are taken into account, Arab-Jewish earnings disparities all but disappear, and in some cases, they even invert, so that the Arabs outperform the Jews. This is particularly true of male earners.If the data fail to show a clear pattern of Arab underperformance in earnings compared with Jews with similar levels of schooling, the stereotype of Ashkenazi Jews outperforming Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews appears just as inaccurate. Once education and the other explanatory variables are controlled, there is very little difference between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim earnings, and in a few cases, particularly for women, Mizrahim outperform Ashkenazi women. The Ashkenazi-Mizrahi distinction certainly appears to be less important in explaining earnings differences than the distinction between native-born Jews and foreign-born Jews or recent immigrants. Here again, there are differences between men and women. Ashkenazi women slightly underperform Mizrahi women, other things being equal, while Ashkenazi men slightly outperform compared with Mizrahi men. The bottom line is that the data do not support the presumption that Mizrahim are systematically disadvantaged in Israeli labor markets.

While new immigrants underperform relative to other Jewish Israelis, other things being equal, Ethiopians do not appear to suffer from any special earnings disadvantage compared with other immigrants. If Ethiopian immigrants earn low levels of salary, it is because they have low levels of schooling. But given their level of schooling, they earn the same on average as immigrants from Russia, South Africa, and Argentina. When estimating total individual income separately for men or for women, the Ethiopians even slightly outperform the other immigrants.

In spite of what statistical analyses have to show, the subject of discrimination in Israel continues to fill the media, which seem to be obsessed with it even while refusing to examine actual data. For example, in the summer of 2013, a television documentary on Israel’s Channel Ten, produced by popular journalist Amnon Levy, triggered considerable media debate inside Israel. It claimed to have investigated and discovered that anti-Mizrahi discrimination is as bad as it had been back in the early decades of Israeli independence.[17] Real data show otherwise.

The problem is not just in the media. The academic careers of many in Israel, particularly in sociology, have been constructed entirely upon unsubstantiated allegations of Israeli racism. Israeli sociologists in general tend to accept at face value the notion that any documented disparity in earnings or numerical representation between Israeli Jews and Arabs must be due to discrimination.[18] Perhaps the most notorious example is that of Yehouda Shenhav, a sociologist at Tel Aviv University. Shenhav is father of the notion that “Oriental Jews” are in fact “Arabs of the Mosaic faith,” and together with Arabs, share a victimhood imposed upon them by racist Ashkenazi Zionists.[19] Shenhav and those of similar ideological orientation operate the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, dedicated to liberating “Oriental Jews” from Ashkenazi bigotry and capitalism.[20]

In Israel’s media, it is considered common knowledge that Arabs, Mizrahim, and Ethiopians are victims of harsh discrimination.[21] The accusations of apartheid may be malicious, disingenuous, and over-the-top—or so most Israeli commentators and sociologists would agree—but the presumption of an underlying widespread pattern of discrimination is, to their minds, undeniable. The extent to which some in Israel go to manufacture evidence of discrimination can be awe-inspiring. For example, the ordinarily prestigious Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), a left-wing think tank, published a study in May 2013 that claimed to have discovered unambiguous proof of widespread discrimination in Israel against Arabs.[22] Composed by IDI legal staffer Tanya Steiner under the supervision of Hebrew University professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, the study’s evidence was the number of complaints about discrimination submitted to the Israeli Commission on Equal Opportunities in Employment. Yet while numerous complaints from women reached the commission, only 3 percent of the complaints it received were from Israeli Arabs, who represent about 18 percent of the labor force. Of these, only three of the complaints received in the entire 2011 year by the commission about alleged anti-Arab discrimination were deemed worthy of investigation. So instead of concluding that the evidence points to an absence of discrimination, the IDI’s conclusion was that it all proves how badly discriminated Israeli Arabs are in Israel; after all, they are so victimized that they do not even file complaints about discrimination.

There is no evidence that points to ethnic discrimination against Israeli Arabs or Mizrahi Jews in Israeli labor markets. Recent immigrants appear to be the one group in the country at an earnings disadvantage. But it would be difficult to make a case that even their disadvantage is due to discrimination since immigrants in all societies are at a competitive disadvantage compared with natives.

There could be other groups in Israeli society that are victims of discrimination, but the data are not available in a form that allows for investigation. In particular, a plausible case for such discrimination may be that against ultra-Orthodox Jews. Gender discrimination also cannot be ruled out, but that is a separate and difficult methodological question beyond the scope of the discussion here.

The nearly complete absence of evidence of ethnic discrimination in Israeli labor markets does not, of course, preclude its existence in other markets or aspects of society. As was shown here, Arabs earn a higher return on education than Jews. But this does not rule out possible discrimination against Arabs in admissions to universities and colleges. It should be noted, however, that Israeli universities routinely implement affirmative action preferences in favor of Arabs and sometimes in favor of Mizrahim (and women).[23] The only other documented university discrimination is that which grants some preferences to army veterans, a practice found in most countries.

There have also been allegations that Israel discriminates in its fiscal allocations and revenue sharing where Arab towns and villages are underfunded. But an empirical analysis of the question found just the opposite; if anything, the Arab local authorities were being over-funded.[24] Evidence regarding other alleged forms of discrimination by Israel tends to be just as skimpy. Some accusations are based upon Israel’s granting automatic citizenship to Jews under its “Law of Return.” But such citizenship entitlements are not unusual in the world and can be found in many other countries, such as Armenia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, and are guaranteed under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[25] Another indictment of Israel concerns the discriminatory nature of its military conscription. Jews and Druse are conscripted into the Israeli military while Arabs may volunteer for service but are not conscripted. Again, this practice may indeed constitute discrimination but that discrimination is against Jews, not against Arabs.

None of this proves that discrimination never exists in Israel against Arabs, against Mizrahi Jews, or anyone else. But the very fact that empirical evidence of discrimination is so hard to discern or observe must itself serve as an important warning indicator about its magnitude or lack thereof.

Steven Plaut teaches at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Haifa.

Table 1: Impact Effect of Various Factors on Salary Earnings for Men and Women[26]
Individual’s Total Income (includes self-employ and “other” income)
– Males and Females
Individual’s Total Income from all Sources
– Males Only
Individual Total Income
from all Sources
– Females Only
AgeDecreases by 1.3% for each extra yearDecreases by 1.1% for each extra yearDecreases by 1.5% for each extra year
Effect of adding one extra year of schoolingIncreases 6.0%
Increment for having matriculation diploma (only)Decreases by 6.0%Decreases by 7.6%
College graduate dummy (increment over matriculation alone)Increases 39.6%Increases 42.5%
Postgraduate degree (increment over having BA)Increases 10.6%Increases 12.5%
Increment for being marriedIncreases 44.9%Increases 56.5%Increases 35.5%
Increment for being maleIncreases 35.3%
Adding one person to household sizeDecreases by 3.6%Decreases by 3.4%Decreases by 3.8%
Increment for being ArabIncreases 8.5%Increases 9.8%Decreases by 2.1%
Increment for being native born (sabra) Israeli JewIncreases 7.3%Increases 8.3%Increases 2.1%
Increment for being AshkenaziDecreases by 0.1%Increases 1.8%Decreases by 3.7%
Increment for residence in JerusalemDecreases by 7.6%Decreases by 15.4%Decreases by 3.2%
Increment for residence in Tel AvivIncreases 17.2%Increases 15.0%Increases 20.6%
Increment for residence in HaifaDecreases by 13.5%.Decreases by 12.0%Decreases by 15.0%
Increment for being new immigrant (arrived since 1990)Decreases by 5.5%Decreases by 7.5%Decreases by 4.3%
Increment for being new immigrant from Africa (over previous increment for being immigrant)Decreases by additional 2.9%Increases by 0.3%Increase by 8.1%
Dummy if employed in “academic” professionIncreases 45.7%Increases 45.6%Increases 45.5%
Dummy if employed as “professional”Increases 31.6%Increases 36.3%Increases 23.7%
Dummy if employed as “manager”Increases 75.6%Increases 72.2%Increases 75.9%
Size of sample used for estimates20,06910,4249,703

[1] See, for example, Ayal Kimhi, “Jewish Households, Arab Households, and Income Inequality in Rural Israel: Ramifications for the Israeli-Arab Conflict,” Defence and Peace Economics, Aug. 2010, pp. 381-94.
[2] For example, “The Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel,” Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Haifa, Mar. 2011.
[3] Digital Journal (Toronto), May 1, 2013.
[4] Yinon Cohen, Yitzhak Haberfeld and Tali Kristal, “Ethnicity and Mixed Ethnicity: Educational Gaps among Israeli-born Jews,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sept. 1, 2007, pp. 896-917.
[5] Knesset member Zehava Galon of the leftist Meretz party recently introduced a bill that would require all proposals of new legislation in Israel to contain estimates of disparate impact. See Haaretz (Tel Aviv), Apr. 17, 2014.
[6] Ibid., Sept. 12, 2012.
[7] Ibid., June 23, July 30, 2013; The Jerusalem Post, June 8, 2013.
[8] Thomas Sowell, “The American Mosaic,” Ethnic America: A History (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
[9] “Projections of population in Israel for 2010–2025, by sex, age and population group,” Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv); “The Arab Population in Israel,” idem, p. 2.
[10]Economic Characteristics,” Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
[11] “Income Survey, 2010,” Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Feb. 2012. Only people earning at least 100 NIS per month in salary are counted in the analysis below, with the others presumed to be absent from the labor force.
[12] Percentages computed by author from data found here: “Income of Individuals (Income survey),” Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Table 25.
[13] Yossi Shavit and Ephraim Yuchtman-Yaar, “Ethnicity, Education, and Other Determinants of Self-Employment in Israel,” International Journal of Sociology, Spring, 2001, pp. 59-91.
[14] Haaretz, June 23, 2013.
[15] See, for example, “Israel Must End Discrimination against Arab College Graduates,” Haaretz, June 15, 2012.
[16] Pnina O. Plaut and Steven E. Plaut, “Income Disparities by Ethnicity in Israel,” Israel Affairs, forthcoming.
[17] Panim Amitiyot: Pirakim Milayim, Aug. 22, 2013, Nana 10 web site.
[18] See, for example, Noah Lewin-Epstein and Moshe Semyonov, Stratification in Israel: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 2003), pp. 175-281; idem, “Local labor markets, ethnic segregation, and income inequality,” Social Forces, June 1992, pp. 1101–19; Sammy Smooha and Yohanan Peres, “The Dynamics of Ethnic Inequalities: The Case of Israel,” in Ernest Krausz, ed., Studies of Israeli Society (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1980), vol. no. 1.
[19] Yehouda Shenhav, “Spineless Bookkeeping: The Use of Mizrahi Jews as Pawns against Palestinian Refugees,” +972 e-magazine (Israel), Sept. 25, 2012.
[20] “Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit,” web site, accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
[21] For example, Yitzhak Laor, “The Glorious State of Israel and Its Anti-Arab Discrimination,” Ha’aretz, Apr. 15, 2013.
[22] Talya Steiner, Combating Discrimination against Arabs in the Israeli Workforce, Policy Paper No. 97 (Jerusalem: Israel Democracy Institute, 2003).
[23] Haaretz, Nov. 19, 2009; John Rosenberg, “Affirmative Action … In Israel,” Discriminations Blog, Sept. 3, 2002; Noga Dagan-Buzaglo, “Non-discriminatory hiring practices in Israel towards Arab Citizens, Ethiopian Israelis and new immigrants from Bukhara and the Caucasus,” Adva Center, Tel Aviv, Nov. 2008.
[24] Tal Shahor, “Fiscal Allotment Policy vis á vis Minorities: An Empirical Measurement of the Way in Which Israel’s Majority Government Makes Its Fiscal Allotments to the Arab Minority,” Metodološki zvezki (Ljubljana, Slovenia), no. 1, 2010, pp. 73-93; Efraim Karsh, “Israel’s Arabs: Deprived or Radicalized?” Israel Affairs, Jan. 2013, pp. 1-19.
[25] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly, New York, Dec. 10, 1948, art. 14.
[26] The effects of isolated changes in individual factors while holding all other factors constant. The “default” or base case upon which the ethnic increments are computed is for “Foreign-born Mizrahi Jews.” The figures in the table should be taken as the best estimate for changes in earnings caused by isolated changes in each individual explanatory factor (ethnicity, gender, and so on) while holding all other factors constant. This shows the isolated effect for Arabs, for example, on earnings while holding schooling, age, and other factors constant. The schooling variable is measured differently for the men-only column (where the effects of achieving degrees are estimated) than for the women-only column (where the effect of an additional year of schooling is estimated). The estimates allow us to see the “clean” effects or impacts of ethnicity and other factors upon earnings in Israel because these effects are statistically isolated from the many intermingled effects of the other variables. Estimates taken from regression analysis equations that are elaborated and appear in full in Pnina O. Plaut and Steven E. Plaut, “Income Disparities by Ethnicity in Israel,” Israel Affairs, forthcoming.

Steven Plaut


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.