65 Israeli laws that discriminate against non-Jews
The Israelis have now developed 65 laws of their own that give Jews living inside Israel and under their control in the occupation total rights, while restricting those of non-Jews and making it easy to legally punish them. Israel’s goal is to be able to identify who is a Jew, and to provide benefits to Jews that are denied to non-Jews.
Denying rights to non-Jews would, I suspect, be used to discourage them from wanting to remain in Israel. Maybe they might be encouraged to leave the country because of this racism?
The mainstream Western media rarely explores these laws, but they are documented by an Israeli organization dedicated to civil and human rights, Adalah (Arabic for “justice”). Founded in 1996 by two Arab organizations in Israel, The Galilee Society and the Arab Association for Human Rights, Adalah identifies 65 Israeli laws it argues are intended to discriminate against and restrict the rights of non-Jews.
Each year, this list of laws continues to grow, as Israel seeks to “Judeanize” all of the land of historic Palestine. More than half of the laws have been adopted since 2000, as Israel feared the ramifications the peace process might have on its ability to control lands and populations.
Several of the laws were the same as ones that Jews denounced as racist during the British Mandate because they were used to deny certain rights to Jews. Since then, though, Israel has codified many of those former British Mandate laws.
The “Trade with the Enemy” ordinance (1939) sounds justifiable, but in reality is a legal facade to expose any non-Jew in Israel to charges of sedition. The law prohibits Palestinians from participating in any kind of event — political, social or cultural — that is organized in many Arab countries. It is also used to ban books in Arabic that challenge Israel’s racist propaganda.
The “Absentees’ Property Law” (1950) allows Israel to define Arab refugees who were expelled after Nov. 29, 1947, as “absentees” and therefore deny them any rights. Israel has used the law to confiscate Arab-owned lands, property, bank accounts and possessions and give them only to Jews.
The “Law of Return” (1950) gives Jews the right to automatically become Israeli citizens. They are given financial support and benefits including lands, property and possessions taken from the “absentees.” The law denies citizenship to non-Jews.
Another is the “State Education Law” (1953), which mandated a “Jewish-only” education to children in Israel’s schools. In 2000, during the failed peace process, language was added acknowledging the “culture, heritage and history” of non-Jews, but most Israeli schools do little more than acknowledge while offering no context, no facts and, most importantly, no accuracy about Israel’s history.
This law is used as the basis for the Israeli assertion that Palestinians “teach their children hatred” in their schools. For example, any Palestinian school that teaches its children about how Israel discriminates against non-Jews is considered to be “teaching hatred.” The law is also being used to remove Arabic from many Israeli communities and settlements, which now use Hebrew only.
Each year the list continues to grow — with more than half adopted since 2000 — as Israel feared the ramifications the peace process might have on its ability to control all of the land of historic Palestine.
“Basic Law: Israel Lands” (1960) places all lands under Israel’s control, through the Jewish National Fund. The JNF prohibits land from being transferred to or purchased by non-Jews, but it does allow lands to be leased, sold and transferred to Jews. In other words, even if you are an Israeli citizen, if you are not Jewish, you are denied this right.
You can go through these sinister laws, which are designed to deny basic human rights to Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Israel, by visiting Adalah’s website at Adalah.org. There you will also see other laws that deny basic rights to non-Jews, including restrictions on burials, limiting the use of the Arabic language, denying government funding, waiving criminal proceedings against Jews who commit crimes against non-Jews, and imposing laws against political activism against Israel. If you use the term “Nakba” to describe Israel’s founding (Nakba Law, 2011), you can be prosecuted and denied government support and services. Many of these laws are written to allow wide latitude in interpretation by Israel’s courts system, so that even waving a Palestinian flag can be considered a traitorous act.
Other laws require that every Israeli carries an ID card. The cards identified the bearer’s race or ethnicity, such as Jewish, Arab, Druze or Circassian. In 2005, the racial identity was removed from the card — though the space is still there marked by asterisks — but there are other ways to distinguish who is Jewish and who is non-Jewish on the card, including the use of the Hebrew calendar for the birthdate of Jews and Gregorian calendar for non-Jews.
If you are arrested, the state allows police to interrogate “security detainees” without recording the interrogations or documenting the arrests. The intent is to prevent the information from being used by human rights organizations and to block charges of torture.
There is no “acceptable” law that separates two people based on race and religion, giving one more rights than the other — and yet that is exactly what Israel is doing.
• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. Twitter: @rayhanania
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