‘Omer Post Office – For Omer Residents Only!’ says the headline in a pamphlet distributed by a party running in the local elections in the rich southern suburb near my hometown, Beer-Sheva. Zion Almalem, the head of the Dai party, which means ‘enough’ in Hebrew, is quoted as saying: ‘The end of long lines! I will ensure that the post office in Omer serves the residents of Omer.’ In the article Amalem explains that Omer is ‘a small and modest’ suburb that was built to provide services to the local residents, but now ‘masses of people’ who are not residents of Omer come to the post office from nearby towns. He promises that, if elected, he will build a post office outside Omer to provide services to non-residents.
Look at a map and you immediately see who these ‘masses of people’ coming to Omer’s post office are: people from Tel-Sheva, a Bedouin township of 14,500; Laqiya, another township of 9000; and Abu Kaff, an unrecognised Bedouin village, with an unknown number of residents.
From Upper Nazareth in the north to Omer in the south, one of the messages that candidates in these elections think will win votes is a not-so-veiled racist promise: we will keep Palestinian citizens out of our ‘Jewish’ spaces.