The Fight against Racism begins with Education

CC-BY: drewpiter

Dear Friends,


This week we heard the police commissioner making racist remarks against Ethiopian citizens just barely a month after the government adopted the Palmor Committee recommendations on how to eradicate racism against Ethiopian Israelis. The Committee was right to suggest that efforts against racism be made through the education system, not only via legal tools. At the same time, the report presents a partial and limited understanding of the phenomenon of racism that could jeopardize the entire process.


Here at ACRI, we have been racking our brains over the issue of racism for quite some time. It is clear to us that racism can’t be eradicated against only one group of people, in an isolated manner. There must be a holistic approach: Combatting racism must be done based on a worldview that understands it is a phenomenon that affects a wide variety of groups in society.


Racism is a worldview that sees “other” groups as inferior from “my” group. People who have these views will always see “others” as inferior – whether they belong to another nation, or another group within their nation, another gender, another sexual orientation, etc. That is why a campaign against racism that focuses only on one victimized group is likely to fail, since it doesn’t attempt to deal with racist thinking as a whole. It is difficult to effectively prevent racism against one group, when people are still being classified within a hierarchy. Such an approach could also produce the opposite effect and perpetuate treatment of that group as “other” and “inferior.” It may also imply that racism “from within our people” is unacceptable while racism against “outsiders” is legitimate.


As we embark on a new school year, it is important to remember that combatting racism against Ethiopian Israelis must be part of a comprehensive plan that opposes all forms of racism in Israel. This requires a deep shift in perception, and a working assumption that sees every person as a human being with equal rights. Our Educational Department, headed by Sharaf Hassan, published a book entitled, A Lesson for Life: Anti-Racism Education from Kindergarten to High School, which suggests implementing education against racism at all age levels, in both formal and informal education, and in all subjects. Teacher trainings should provide the tools for coping with all forms of racism in the classroom, whether against the present “others” or the “absent others.” Educational materials should counter stereotypes and impart the culture, heritage and history of all groups that make up Israeli society – Jews and Arabs, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, Russians and Ethiopians, poor and wealthy, men and women, etc.
Wishing everyone a successful and productive school year,






Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Executive Director
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel

  • Print
  • email
  • RSS
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Human Rights Education, Racism and Discrimination

Tags:, , |

Comments are closed.