A tempest in a teapot boiled up by Jodi Rudorenthe most popular boys' name in Israel was Mohammed, a fact that I heard in more places than I'd like to remember.
But even more striking was that Israel’s population authority left Muhammad off the annual Top 10 list of baby names it issued last week before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Haaretz, the left-leaning Israeli daily that first reported the omission, called this in an editorial “another form of racism, which in Israel has become institutionalized and self-evident.”
Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for the agency that published the list, described the missing Muhammads as something between a mistake and a misunderstanding. The list, she said, was simply a response to requests “for Hebrew names” in conjunction with the start of “the Hebrew New Year.” It would have been better, she acknowledged, to put an asterisk noting that what she called “obviously Arabic names” were left off. “There was no intention, no political intention,” Ms. Haddad said in an interview. “When journalists called me and asked for the whole list, they received the whole list. It’s not that we hide that.”
Intent aside, Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, a legal advocacy center for Arab minority rights, said the episode revealed a deeper issue of invisibility for Israel’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens and more than 300,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
Arabs have served in Israel’s Parliament since its opening in 1949, but only one has been a government minister. A 2011 Adalah report found that 6 percent of the state’s Civil Service jobs and 1.2 percent of tenure-track positions in universities were filled by Arabs.
“On TV, if we open Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 10, in prime time, we don’t see Arabs as producers, as anchors — we don’t see them, they do not exist,” Mr. Jabareen complained. Each channel has an analyst of Arab affairs, but they are Jews, he added, “sending a message that in fact the Arabs are foreigners, this is why we need a mediator between us and them.”Yes, there is job discrimination against Arabs and everyone here knows it. But there is also job discrimination here against anyone who is not from Ashkenazi (Western) background and often also against anyone who is not secular Ashkenazi and against anyone who hasn't served in the army. It's not just the Arabs.
Second, yes there are jobs here from which Arabs are generally systematically excluded. Anything remotely connected to national security, for example (does anyone wonder why?).
Third, the Arab affairs analysts are meant to explain the Arab viewpoint to Jews - not to propagandize. The only Arab I can think of in this country who could be entrusted to do that is Khaled Abu Toameh, and I suspect that he had wished to do so, he could have been an Arab affairs analyst for one of the television stations a long, long time ago.
Fourth, how many Arabs have the advanced university degrees that are required for many civil service jobs?
Fifth, when have the 'Israeli Arab' parties shown an interest in this sort of thing? What percentage of 'Israeli Arabs' vote in any Israeli election (hint: much lower than the percentage of Jews who vote).
By the way, how many Jews are there in civil service jobs in any Arab country? How many Jewish professors are there in any Arab universities? (How many universities are there in the Arab world anywhere outside the 'Palestinian Authority')? How many Arab countries even have Jewish affairs analysts at all? How many Arab countries have given up hope of extirpating the Jewish state?
Sorry, Jodi, this story is way out of line.