The casualness in which the man expresses his sense of entitlement, reveals something so extraordinary about how racism is embedded and reinforced within Jewish Israeli society.
Woman: I have a right that no one will search my bag. If a policeman comes here, with a license, then I agree. If you don’t have a license, then regarding private things, I do not cede to anyone [letting them] check me.Man: It’s not that terrible.Passengers: She is right.Passengers: She is not right.Woman: If you don’t feel safe, then simply please call the police.Passengers: She is not right.Passengers: Why?Woman: If you feel unsafe then simply, I have no problem….Man: If there’s anything suspicious, we need to check, that’s all.Woman: Suspicious? What do you mean by that? Explain to me what suspicious means. My head scarf is suspicious? That’s what frightens you? So get off [the bus].Man: It’s not something personal.Passenger: It’s very insulting. I am a citizen here. I’m also an ArabWoman: The fact you define us [inaudible] a person who is on the bus.Man: Both of us agree that this is an unpleasant situation. It’s embarrassing, it’s shaming and it’s insulting.Woman: Not only embarrassing and insulting…Man: Then what?Woman: It’s the matter of “security”.Man: Now, listen to me. I am only posing a request. I can tell you that I am studying a lot about Islam and Quran, and I really identify with the Arabic culture. You don’t know that I am…Woman: It’s not a matter of culture.Man: Listen for a second. listen. I know, I know about all the sensitivities. I also worked for many years with a mixed population. What I am saying, since we are all now in a very…all the Israelis are in a very tense situation now. That’s something objective.Passenger: Me too, I am not in a safe situation now.
More explicitly jingoistic and racist elements now operate closer to the center of Israeli political life. Some well-known figures in the religious world speak openly in an anti-democratic rhetoric of Jewish supremacy—“strength and victimhood all melded together,” as one Israeli friend put it to me.