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Opinion | The Discrimination Palestinian Citizens of Israel Face

Politicians call for our citizenship to be revoked, or worse — like the former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said our heads should be chopped off, or the former education minister Naftali Bennett, who declared that he had killed many Palestinians and had no problem with it.

Since 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has twice made electoral pacts with the overtly racist Jewish Power party, which is made up of followers of the notorious Meir Kahane, whose Kach party and offshoots were labeled terrorist organizations by the United States. Jewish Power is led by Itamar Ben Gvir, who says his hero is Baruch Goldstein, who gunned down 29 Palestinians as they prayed in Hebron in 1994.

All of this does not merely garner votes for Mr. Netanyahu, it also normalizes hatred of Palestinians. Young Jews are more radicalized than their parents, with polls showing that they do not want to live next to Palestinians and support revoking our citizenship.

This prejudice, racism and violence directed at Palestinians is not limited to the fringe in society — it has become mainstream. In May alone, Mr. Netanyahu’s government allowed marches by violent Jewish supremacists through Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem and into the Aqsa mosque compound. Israeli police officers and Jewish citizens have been offered de facto immunity for attacking Palestinians.

Indeed, our mere existence nettles Israel’s ruling elites, who insist on preserving the Jewishness of the state. My father, who is 82, still waits for the day when he does not have to live in fear that we will be evicted from our homeland. To be a Palestinian in Israel is to wait for the day when Israel will decide to forever rid itself of you.

How do I explain to my 7-year-old son what being a Palestinian citizen of Israel means? What future can he look toward, when the leaders of the government incite hatred against him? What audacious hope can he have when he is bound to face racism and discrimination in education, employment and housing?

For now, I try to shield him from the images on television and on our phones, but there will soon come a time when I cannot shield him from the reality that he is surrounded by people who consider him a second-class citizen.

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