What are the conditions for a particular phenomenon’s being defined as racism? Is racism necessarily based on the assumption, covert or overt, that such a thing as race exists? Does every discussion of race (for example, a medical discussion in genetics) necessarily lead to racism? What is the connection between the biological and cultural aspects of the race question? Can racism be distinguished from other wrongs, such as oppression based on class, politics, or gender? Despite the plethora of racist phenomena in Israel, and despite the explicit discussion of the subject in the public and political spheres, the academic and intellectual discourse on race tends not to deal with theoretical questions related to race, racial clasifications, and racism. This unique book seeks to fill the gap; it attempts to define what racism is and to identify it even when it is not expressed explicitly in language and when it is camouflaged by various mechanisms of justification. The papers in the book deal with many different aspects of racism and examine it in diverse contexts and times and in relation to various populations. Also, they make a systematic effort to clarify why the discussion of questions related to the phenomenon of racism is absent from the current academic discourse in Israel.
The book is based on the work of the Forum for Society and Culture, a research group at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. The book contains 13 original papers and two translated papers that aim to complete the picture and present the subject from a broader perspective. This book is the first of its kind and it puts the issue of racism squarely on the agenda of Israeli society.