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Mr Prime Minister,

I write to you because you could be the only man who would save the israeli society from the increase of racism and from the development of a double standard, with discrimination against a part of his population. You would be this man if you urge the Knesset to vote a law on civil rights and against segregation between different communities in Israel !

Like John Fitzgerald Kennedy in USA on June 19, 1963, forty years ago, you could be this providential man in Israel, declaring war on racism between Jews , like it was the case for the defence of the rights of black people .

As you probably know, Mizrahim and Sephardim are today suffering hardly from discrimination from others Israeli, because they are considered as “Arabic Jews”, “Coloured Jews”, “Wog Jews”, compared to the White Jews leading the nomenklatura of the country .

A very dangerous situation has been created here and there is no way to investigate, to prove this lack of integration of the Israeli society. Sephardim in Israel feel a deep sense to stay motionless apart from the Israeli train which is running, to be excluded from the good jobs, from the centres of decisions leading the country.

Incredibly, today, for a sepharad, it is easier to succeed in Diaspora, without suffering too much discrimination to be a Jew, than to succeed in Israel, feeling the hard discrimination to be sepharad, “a Coloured Jew”. Incredibly, today, for a sepharad in France, for example, there is a much better climate of comprehension between him and his Ashkenazim brothers, than between Sephardim and Askenazim in Israel. So you can understand that some Sephardim in France will certainly reconsider the alyah they have dreamed to do to Israel, with this actual climate of hate against Sephardim in Israel. The opposite situation will probably appear that young Sephardim in Israel will become “Yordim”, running away from humiliation, segregation against their Community in their own country! So if you don’t understand the crucial importance of the moment, that there is a leading group in the country that is unaware that it is alienating the Sephardim, that if nothing is done very soon, the Sephardim will slowly begin to quit the country and to split from their Ashkenazim brothers, then Israel will loose its strength, based on the Unity of Jewish People “Am Ehad”, like the name of your own party. The intense frustration among Sephardim is also caused that social and professional success in Israel is too often based on the ethnicity rather on the merits of people. If my parents or me are originated from Poland, Germany, Romania or Russia, my chances to succeed in life, in the Israeli industry, or in the administration are greater than if my parents came from Tunisia, Morocco or Egypt! This situation where there are two million people in this country who wake up every morning with a feeling they have no place in this society must not persist. This situation that they are not listened to and are not respected. I hope that every Israeli, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this problem. This Nation was founded by men of many origins and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be equal. And when Israeli are sent to war, we do not ask for Ashkenazim “White Jews” only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for Israeli students of any origin to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops. It ought to be possible, in short, for every Israeli to enjoy the privileges of being Israeli without regard to his original community. In short, every Israeli ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case. The “Coloured Jew” born in Israel today, has much less chance of completing a high school as a “White Jew” born in the same place on the same day, much less chance of completing college, much less chance of becoming a professional man, but much more chance of becoming unemployed, and the prospects of earning much less. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city of Israel, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right. We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the Israeli Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Israeli are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Israeli as we want to be treated. If an Israeli, because his skin is mat, cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the colour of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay? Five hundred years of delay have passed since Spanish people deported Sephardim from their country, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free. We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that we have no second-class citizens except Sephardim; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes except with respect to Sephardim Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The crisis between Sephardim and Ashkenazim has so increased the cries for equality that no city or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them. The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives. We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is time to act in the Knesset and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives. It is not enough to pin the blame of others, to say this a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality. Mr Prime Minister, may I conclude by asking you to ask the Knesset to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this new millennium to the proposition that segregation on origin between Jews has no place in Israeli life or law. Unless the Knesset acts, the only remedy of “Coloured Jews” is in the street. I am, therefore, asking you to ask the Knesset to enact legislation to end this discrimination giving all Israeli the same rights if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts. You would have also to ask the Knesset to authorize Israeli justice to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public life. This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents. We cannot say to 30% of the population that you can't have that right; that your children cannot have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that. Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment that we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents; to still be proud of our State of Israel.

Yves-Victor Haïm Kamami, MD Originator of the ambulant treatment of snoring with laser President of B’nai B’rith France.

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