Citizens International

The fundamental legal nature of Israel Apartheid

From the historical report, a month before the declaration, on 9 April 1948, in Deir Yassin, 254 men, women and children were butchered by the Zionist terror group Irgun. It was designed by the Zionist High Command, led by the first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion.

This black chapter in history, without doubt, is the seminal milestones that form the foundation of Apartheid Israel today. The crux of this movement is about the total annihilation of the Palestinians. Though it may not always be the mass killing like the poor souls in Deir Yassin faced 70 years ago, but various other highly asymmetrical and discriminative Apartheid laws, which are meant to achieve the same thing.

On January 3 2016, two Palestinians were removed from an Aegean Airlines flight from Athens to Tel Aviv, after Jewish Israelis claimed that they constituted a “security risk”. The incident made headlines worldwide. A month later, a Tel Aviv-based cleaning company sparked outrage with a flyer that priced its staff based on ethnicity. The story was also covered around the world.

For some, these kinds of episodes are proof of the racism, which permeates Israeli society; for others, they are examples of isolated bigotry and idiocy. In fact, neither interpretation is quite right. While stories resonate and go viral, they can mask the fact that – in Israel racism forms the foundation of its law. It is not hyperbolic to stress this constitutes the normal for Israel.

To begin with, there is no guarantee of full equality for Jewish and Palestinian citizens; as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel put it, “the right to equality is not yet enshrined in the law regarding most aspects of life.”

“Equality cannot be recognised on the constitutional level,” wrote legal academic, Aeyal Gross, since that would challenge “the inequality created by the complete identification of the state with only one group.” The nearest that Israel’s foundational legislation comes to a specific commitment to equality is Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, adopted in 1992 – Israel does not have a formal, written constitution but a number of “Basic Laws” passed over the years deal with key issues.

Yet even here, equality is not “recognised as an independent right that stands on its own”. In fact, just in the past month, the Knesset voted against a draft bill that called for the inclusion of an equality clause in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Furthermore, Israel Basic Law allows for rights to be violated “by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel”, a caveat that provides a basis “for giving significant weight to the nature of Israel as a Jewish state and its goals, at the expense of the fundamental rights concerned”. This is something divorced from the essence of democracy.

The former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak has validated this in which he stated how “Israel is different from other countries. It is not only a democratic state but also a Jewish state.” In other words, Israel is not a state of all its citizens, something freely admitted by senior officials.

Second, Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination in law and policy – as these examples in land and housing, family life, and immigration demonstrate.

In 43 percent of Israeli towns, residential admission committees filter out applicants on the grounds of “incompatibility with the social and cultural fabric”. These committees, which operate by law, are “used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities”, as Human Rights Watch has noted.

In 2014, the Supreme Court rejected a petition against the committees, a ruling slammed for having legalised “the principle of segregation in housing”. These small communities also “exercise control over a significant amount of land” through the regional councils of which they are part.

Palestinian Arab citizens also face discrimination when it comes to family life. The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, first adopted in 2003 (PDF), “imposes severe restrictions on the right of Israeli citizens … to apply for permits for their Palestinian spouses and children from the Occupied Palestinian Territory to enter and reside in Israel for purposes of family unification”.

It is important to note that the territory occupied by Israel since 1967 is not, in practice, distinct from the rest of the state: land has been expropriated, 600,000 Jewish Israelis live in more than 200 colonies, natural resources are exploited, and basic infrastructure – water, telecommunications, transport – all bind the West Bank to pre-1967 territory.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Amutot Law or military rule within this de-facto single state, are subjected to severe policies of discrimination and segregation, as well as military brutality and repression. This is no secret: as Human Rights Watch stated in 2010.

“Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and countrywide starting place, depriving them of power, water, faculties, or even to get entry into roads, while on the contrary nearby Jewish settlers experience all of these nation- blessings.”

To put in force these form of apartheid law”, the Israeli army conducts nightly raids, detains Palestinians without trial or rate, tortures detainees, and represses any form of resistance – consisting of unarmed protests – with deadly violence.

Now, who’s liable for all of the above – for the institutionalised discrimination, the racist laws, and military rule over 4.5 million Palestinians? Without a doubt, the successive Israeli governments since 1948.

The coarse racism of individuals – whether on a Greek plane or the Tel Aviv cleaning agency which discriminates its pricing based upon its customer’s racial profile- could get the headlines, nonetheless it is the Israeli state and its institutions that created and is perpetuating the colonial status quo, which must be held to responsible.

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