Arab Israelis are losing their jobs for criticising the IDF on Facebook

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Wednesday 13 August 2014 15:30

Arab Israelis are losing their jobs for criticising the military action in Gaza on Facebook.

Steven Beck, the director of international relations at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), told i100 there had been several incidents of Arab citizens of Israel being fired by their employers after criticising the military on social media.

"This has been a real problem since the start of the conflict, and it is completely illegal. Israeli employment law does not allow employees to be terminated for expressing their political views. This is about private opinions expressed outside the workplace," he said.

While exact numbers are not known, it thought dozens of people have been affected. Mr Beck's comments follow the New Israel Fund, a left-leaning NGO, reporting that it had been approached by Palestinian workers who had lost their jobs over comments posted on Facebook.

At least 25 Facebook pages have been set up with names like "Not in our Schools" and "Exposing the Traitors" where people copy statuses of Palestinian Israelis alongside their photos and places of work, requesting that the general public call on their employers to fire them. Most of the cases we know about are a result of this pressure.

  • New Israel Fund

Last month the FT reported on claims that Raafat Awayshi, a 20-year-old Arab Israeli student, had been detained by police after writing on Facebook that "we have to go out to scream and shout and say no to this country’s policies in Gaza".

Mr Beck said that since the start of Operation Protective Edge, opposition to the military action in Israel was equated to disloyalty "by certain segments of the population".

There are many in Israel who do not want to get painted this way so as a result there is very little space for debate. Employers might be trying to avoid larger problems in their organisations or even seeing it as a way of protecting employees from themselves, but at the end of the day it is illegal. Freedom of expression is the foundation of any democracy and as a principle it needs to be strong enough to withstand even speech that is difficult to hear.

  • Steven Beck

The ACRI is currently compiling data on the number of Arab Israelis who may have been affected.

Arab citizens of Israel make up a fifth of the country's population and in the eyes of the law have exactly the same rights as Jewish Israelis.

In practice many have complained they are treated like second class citizens.

Arab Israelis are exempt from compulsory military service in a society where a person's place in the army shapes much of their future prospects in life, and it took until 2007 for an Arab Israeli to become a Cabinet minister.

There are also plenty of anecdotal reports that Arab Israelis find it harder to find jobs in the civil service and public sector than Jewish applicants.

Currently there is a ceasefire between the IDF and Hamas, after nearly a month of fighting which the UN estimates has left 1,962 Palestinians dead - 1,417 of whom are civilians.

The UN is now set to investigate possible war crimes committed during Operation Protective Edge.

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