Letter from the Minister of Justice

One of the main principles of liberalism in general and democracy in particular is equality, and discrimination and racism are evil things that go against this fundamental value. Racism isn't a fact of life we have to put up with – this is something we can and should fight against, and that's exactly what our campaign is intended to do: to make it clear that there is an anti-discrimination law in Israel. In the democratic state of Israel there shall be no second-rate citizen. In our country we don't have people who are worth more than other people. We are a moral society, a society with values. I believe that the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for making sure laws are observed and democracy is protected, is the address for this fight. Whoever come across discrimination or racism, whether they suffer from it personally or are only witness to it, can apply to us and receive consulting, information and support. We will not accept discrimination in silence.
I regret to say that we have a long way to go before this evil phenomenon is done away with. It's astonishing to understand how common discrimination is in all walks of life. Once and again people are refused entrance, services or products only because they belong to a specific social group. Women are kept away from public spaces, Ethiopian immigrants are not accepted into schools, Arabs can't rent apartments or enter water parks whenever they want – and this is only a partial list.
By passing the discrimination law in 2000 we tried to cope with discrimination and racism by making it illegal for people providing public services, or providing services in public spaces, to discriminate against people on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc. recently we have proposed a bill which declares such discrimination a criminal offense which should be punished by imprisonment for six months. This is not enough – but it is a step in the right direction.
Most of the burden of fighting discrimination and racism should be carried by us, the government and the legislators. But this fight depends also on you, the citizens of Israel who care, who want a democratic, equal, moral country. Have you suffered discrimination? You have many ways to fight back against the discriminators – defend your rights! Have you been witnesses to discrimination? Don’t stay out of it – say something! Silence and indifference are acceptance of discrimination. We mustn't agree to live in a place where racism and discrimination are the accepted social norms.
I can't emphasize enough how much discrimination hurts our society. It hurts our moral spine, the fundamental principles of democracy. The answer to discrimination should be clear and uncompromising punishment, along with raising awareness, proper education, and refusing to accept such behaviors. We and you together will succeed in eradicating this evil and walk towards a better, more just, Israeli society.