- Two recent Israeli High Court rulings follow a disturbing
trend. On January 11, divided justices ruled 6 - 5 for Israel's Citizenship
and Entry into Israel Law.
- It denies citizenship rights to Palestinians with Israeli
spouses. Enacted in 2003 as temporary legislation, it was extended twice
after its initial expiration date.
- The law empowers the interior minister to grant citizenship
only if affected Palestinians identify strongly and cooperate with Israel.
They must also contribute to national security. As a result, few qualify.
- In addition, it limits potential eligibility to Palestinian
husbands 36 or older and Palestinian wives at least 26.
- A Qara village attorney called the decision a "declaration
of war on Israeli Arabs." A mixed couple said the decision "will
lead to the expulsion of thousands of families from the country."
- The Palestinian wife of another mixed couple got temporary
permit permission to live with her husband in Acre without legal rights
extended Israeli citizens. Her husband, a Haifa University doctoral candidate,
wasn't surprised by the ruling, saying:
- "The decision is proof that one shouldn't have faith
in the Israeli judicial system. It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced
by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel, and the judges weren't
expected to act any other way."
- According to Physicians for Human Rights/Israel's Shahar
- "Apart from the fundamental violation of Arab Israeli
rights, the law will create a reality in which thousands of people who
are married to Israeli citizens will continue to live without any civil
status or social rights."
- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) called
Israel's judicial system "biased against Palestinians."
- Courts often impose procedural and financial barriers.
Israel's government "imposes physical barriers on effective access
of Palestinian victims to the Israeli courts. As a result, they're deprived
of redress under international law.
- Nonetheless, PCHR pursues justice, including for 100
Cast Lead victims. Their most significant obstacle involves requiring civil
case claimants "to pay a court insurance fee or bank guarantee of
20,000 NIS (new Israeli shekels) before the court will allow the case to
- The sum equals about $5,200. In nearly all cases, it's
unaffordable. Impoverished Palestinians struggle daily to get by.
- Nonetheless, if funds aren't paid withing 60 - 120 days,
claims are dismissed. PCHR petitioned the High Court to dismiss this onerous
burden. However, it agreed with prosecutorial demands. It also sided with
state crimes and anti-human rights policies.
- In July 2005, the Knesset approved a 1952 Civil Torts
Law (Liability of the State) amendment. It prevents Palestinians from claiming
just compensation. Nine human rights organizations, including PCHR, challenged
it. They won a judgment, letting Palestinians file individual claims henceforth.
Judges could then either accept, adjust or reject them.
- Outrage Over the High Court Decision
- Association for Civil Rights in Israel attorneys Dan
Yakir and Oded Feller said:
- "It is a dark day for the protection of human rights
and for the Israeli High Court of Justice. The majority opinion has stamped
its approval on a racist law, one (that) will harm the very texture of
the lives of families whose only sin is the Palestinian blood that runs
in their veins."
- In a January 12 press release, the Adalah Legal Center
for Arab Minority rights in Israel said:
- "Thousands of Palestinian families are affected
by this law, forced to move abroad, or live apart or together illegally
- "The Supreme Court approved a law the likes of which
does not exist in any democratic state in the world, depriving citizens
from maintaining a family life in Israel only on the basis of the ethnicity
or national belonging of their spouse."
- "The ruling proves how much the situation regarding
the civil rights of the Arab minority in Israel (20% of the population)
is declining into a highly dangerous and unprecedented situation."
- Outrageously, the Court majority viewed non-Jewish rights
null and void. They also said doing so is proportional according to Israel's
Basic Laws. In fact, it constitutes a gross perversion and contemptible
injustice. It also rendered the Court illegitimate to rule fairly for non-Jewish
- On January 13, Haaretz condemned the Court ruling in
an editorial headlined, "Supreme Court thrusts Israel down the slope
of apartheid," saying:
- Its ruling "on the legality of the Citizenship Law
proves the erosion of this institution's role as Israel's guardian of civil
- Notably, in 2006, a Court majority called the law unconstitutional.
Now they believe it's lawful under Israel's Basic Laws. Justice Asher Grunis
said "(h)uman rights are not a prescription for national suicide."
- According to Justice Elyakin Rubinstein, "a small
group - those men and women in Israel's minority who want to marry residents
of the region - must pay a heavy price for greater security for all Israelis,
including their own."
- The decision provides more proof of a lawless, racist
state. It denies non-Jews equity and justice solely on the basis of their
religion and ethnicity. Doing so violates fundamental international law.
- Although Court President Dorit Beinisch sided with the
minority, critics accuse her of helping the majority. Unnamed sources said
she wanted Court resolution after Citizenship Law critic Ayala Procaccia
- She also could have replaced her with a like-minded justice,
rather than Neal Hendel who sided with the majority.
- One source said:
- "It appears that with the Supreme Court currently
under attack, Beinisch feared raising a political and public uproar with
a verdict revoking the Citizenship Law. So although she supported scrapping
the law, she didn't really want it revoked."
- In other words, she wanted it both ways. Moreover, the
High Court's "afraid of ruling against" Israel's most extremist
- Israel's Nakba Law
- In July 2011, the Knesset approved the Denial of the
Nakba Budget Principles Bill amendment. It claimed it negates the existence
of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. It authorizes the Finance Minister
to reduce or prohibit funding any institution under the following conditions:
- refusal to support Israel as a Jewish state;
- racist, violent or terrorist incitement;
- support for any nation, group or entity Israel calls
an enemy or terrorist organization;
- mourning Israel's Independence Day; and/or
- committing vandalism or physical desecration dishonoring
Israel's flag or symbols.
- Its language states:
- "Entities that receive financial support from the
state budget must not be allowed to finance or sponsor activities within
their framework that entail denial of the existence of Israel as a Jewish
state, by, inter alia, marking Independence Day or the day of the establishment
of Israel as a day of mourning."
- All activities are affected, including academic, intellectual,
cultural, artistic, political, and religious.
- As a result, the law violates Arab history, culture,
and right to express, teach, or disseminate it freely. It also compromises
their right to commemorate what they lost and appalling persecution that
- When first proposed, it banned and criminalize commemorations
as a way to "erase a seminal event in Palestinian history from Israeli
consciousness." Its softened version deals only with funding.
- Nakba means "massive catastrophe." Arab intellectual
Constantin Zureiq coined the term in his 1948 book titled, "The Meaning
of El-Nakba," saying:
- "The defeat of the Arabs in Palestine should not
be treated as a simple disaster or fleeting event. It was the worst catastrophe,
in the deepest sense of the word, to have befallen the Arabs in their long
and disaster-ridden history."
- According to Palestinian historian Arif al-Arif in his
book titled, "The Nakba of Palestine and Paradise Lost":
- "How can I not call it a nakba? It was during this
period that a disaster of a kind we had not encountered for generations
befell us, the Arabs, and the Palestinians in particular. Our homeland
was stolen. We were driven from our land. We lost a large number of our
sons, and, above all, our dignity was deeply wounded."
- It was the first time Palestinians lost their homeland
and became diaspora and internally displaced refugees. Palestine as a political
entity ceased to exist. For those affected, it was an unparalleled historic
tragedy and collective nightmare. It remains so.
- As a result, Palestinians mark Israel's independence
as Nakba Day and commemorate it annually. For them, it's a national trauma.
It also symbolizes Israeli lawlessness, repression, discrimination, and
- On January 5, Israel's High Court rejected an anti-Nakba
Law petition. Court President Dorit Beinisch said it lacked concrete facts
required for support. She, Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor wrote in their
- "The declarative level of the law does indeed raise
difficult and complex questions. However, from the outset, the constitutionality
of the law depends largely upon the interpretation given to the law's directives."
- Opponents said, even before passage, its chilling effects
limit free speech, public debate, academic teaching, and Israeli Arab
rights to express and commemorate their historical narrative freely.
- ACRI chief legal counsel Dan Yakir said:
- "It is regrettable that although the High Court
ruled that the Nakba Law raises complex issues of public importance, which
gets to the root of the problems that divide Israeli society, it chose
to avoid ruling on these issues until a concrete case occurs."
- "The court completely ignored the claims regarding
the chilling effect of this law and its limiting of free speech."
- According to United Arab List MK Ahmed Tibi:
- "The ruling relied on procedural considerations
and feared to get into the thick of this law that discriminates against
an entire Arab collective."
- In March, prior to passage, a Haaretz editorial headlined,
"Silence over Nakba Law encourages racism," saying:
- The measure assures "a shameful page to (Knesset)
history. (It's another) in a growing list of disgraceful legislation whose
entire purpose is to discriminate against Israel's Arab citizens, intimidate
them and deny them their rights." It also mocks the notion of a democratic
- At the time, half of the Knesset MKs didn't show up to
vote, mostly ones who could have made a difference. As a result, hard-right
extremists got their way. Their "apathy....encourages....racism, creating
a convenient fertile ground for them to continue their disastrous activities."
They've taken full advantage.
- In fact, Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher believes MKs henceforth
will be encouraged to entirely subvert legitimate Arab Israeli rights.
- In a combined statement, Adalah and ACRI said:
- "The High Court ignored the chilling effect of this
law, and missed the opportunity to tell legislators that there are limits
to their anti-human rights actions. This law encourages discrimination
against Arabs in Israel."
- In addition, the law's vagueness pressures institutions
to self-censor to avoid penalties. At the same time, it marks Israeli Arabs
as disloyal and dangerous.
- It also compromises their legitimate rights and represents
another example of collective punishment. The High Court approved targeting
Israeli citizens for their faith and ethnicity.
- Moreover, it dealt another body blow to equity and justice
in a society far from free and open. It rendered them null and void.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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