Sunday, May 18, 2014

More Lies About Discriminatory Laws in Israel

One of the more frequent claims of anti-Israel online activists is that Israel has many laws that discriminate against Arabs; for example, this post on Twitter: 
S. EL-Said {BDS} (@elsaidst)
@NeedAGPS @frankmcdonald60 @DrMikeH49 @ynkutner @nacnudeel lololol is that why it has 50+ laws only applicable to Arab citizens?

Most of these claims are taken from a list provided by Adalah, an Arab Israeli organization that works to enforce civil rights laws for Arab citizens of Israel (good) and has been implicated in BDS activities (very, very bad). 

But let's utilize the lenses of truth to go through a post that Mr El-Said made and actually examine the claims.
He starts by claiming that  "The founding of Israel required a constitution guaranteeing basic rights for all its citizens."  Really? Who required it of them?  Is a constitution required for basic rights? Other countries that do not have a constitution include the UK and New Zealand. Yet citizens of some countries with constitutions (Syria, North Korea) probably don't take much comfort in the rights those documents guarantee to them.  

He then goes on to mention the military laws under which Arab citizens of Israel lived until 1966. Given that these were repealed nearly 50 years ago, I don't know how that qualifies as current discrimination. 

"Palestinian identity is not recognized in Israeli law": Indeed, Palestinian identity is not, but Arab identity is. Are the Bedouin Arabs whose historical migrations were across the Negev and the Sinai "Palestinians"? Even Hamas leaders have questioned whether there is such a thing as "Palestinian" identity:  (though if changing the name on the card would resolve your ire about this, I'm all for it).

"The most important immigration laws—including the Law of Return {1950) and the Citizenship Law {1952}- privilege Jews and Jewish immigration over non-Jews." Absolutely no infringements upon the rights of non Jewish citizens of Israel, as these only affect non-citizens. Israel, as the state of the Jewish people, has the right to establish preferential immigration policies for members of that group, as do a host of countries across Europe and Asia

"Population Registry Law {1965}–Requires all residents of Israel to register their nationality [i.e., Jewish, Arab, Druze] with the Population Registry and obtain an identity card carrying this information." So let's see-- that's ALL citizens affected equally by this law. Clear outright proof of a law only applicable to Arab citizens, right? 

"Identity Certificate [Possession and Presentation] Law {1982}–Residents must carry identity cards at all times and present them to “senior police officers,” to the heads of local authorities, or to police officers or soldiers on duty when requested to do so. Jewish citizens are seldom asked to present their cards, while Palestinians often are." Once again, a law NOT written solely to apply to Arab citizens. 

At this point, the question of discrimination in practice vs discrimination in law becomes relevant. And indeed there is discrimination against the Arab minority in Israel-- just as there is discrimination against people of African origin in the Arab world (ever hear the term "abeed"?) as well as in America, discrimination against First Nations in Canada, and discrimination against non-Russian ethnic groups in Russia. But if all discrimination is "apartheid" then not only does that term lose its meaning, it minimizes the suffering of the black majority in South Africa; just as calling all ethnic strife "genocide" denies the enormity of the crimes committed against the Jewish and the Armenian people. But don't take my word for it: listen to South African Member of Parliament Kenneth Meshoe, who lived under apartheid: 

"Family Unification {2003}– Under the 2003 policy for “family unification” non-citizen spouses and children of Arab Israeli citizens are prohibited from entering Israel [and living with their spouse/parent]. This means if you are a Palestinian from outside Israel, married to an Israeli, you are barred from living with your spouse in Israel. This does not apply to any other nationality beside Arabs. This “interim” provision has been regularly extended, most recently in January, 2011."  This might be the sole example of discrimination codified into law that he was able to find. Of course, context is somewhat relevant given that there is not yet peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel is not under any obligation to admit those non-citizens who are part of a hostile entity. 

"Serving in the armed forces -Israeli Jews (except some orthodox Jews) have to serve in the Israeli army when they turn 18. Most Palestinians are forbidden to serve in the army. Many of the benefits of society are given to people who have served. Preferential treatment of housing, education and other services are given to army veterans."  Forbidden? More like exempted. And yes, just like the US has special privileges for those who serve their country (the GI bill, for example), so does Israel; and those privileges apply to all who serve-- Jewish, Druze or Arab. 

"The Citizenship Law{2008} -Several attempts have been made in recent years to make it possible to strip Israeli citizenship for various reasons related to alleged “disloyalty” to the state or “breach of trust.” All of these attempts have indirectly targeted the citizenship rights of Palestinian citizens. This law allows the citizenship of an Israeli citizen to be revoked on the grounds of “breach of trust or disloyalty to the state.” “Breach of trust” is broadly defined."  And not only is it rarely enforced, Israel does have a legitimate concern about individuals who might be spying for Hamas or Hezbollah. Siding with those who want to kill most of your fellow citizens does have the unfortunate side effect of placing your citizenship at risk.

El-Said goes on to cite various land laws, ignoring the fact that Jews as well as Arabs are prevented from purchasing state lands, which do indeed comprise the majority of land in Israel. Is there discrimination de facto (vs de jure) in land leasing from the state and the management of lands? Perhaps; but once again, the charge was laws that apply only to Arab citizens.

He then moves on to laws that he claims interfere with Arab political participation, failing to note that no Arab party been barred from running a slate for Knesset (though one Jewish party, Meir Kahane's Kach party, was barred for racism). He goes on to claim: "The Law of Political Parties {1982} -Bars the Registrar of Political Parties from registering a political party if it denies “the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State.” In 2002 both Section 7A(1) of the Basic Law and Knesset and the Law of Political Parties were amended further to bar those whose goals or actions, directly or indirectly, “support armed struggle of an enemy state or of a terror organization, against the State of Israel.” These amendments were added expressly to curtail the political participation of Palestinian Arabs within Israel – such as Azmi Bishara – who have expressed solidarity with Palestinians resisting military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza."  Azmi Bishara and his Balad party had their right to run a slate in the 2003 elections upheld by the Supreme Court of Israel. And Azmi Bishara resigned form the Knesset and fled rather than face trial not for expressing "solidarity with Palestinians" but rather for spying for Hezbollah.  In the meantime, Arab parties are represented in the current Knesset, just as they have been since the founding of the state. 

"No Equal Legal Protection- The Israeli courts – guided by the Supreme Court – have consistently decided that discrimination between Arabs and Jews is legitimate based on the founding principles of Israel as a state for the Jewish people; “nationality” is a legitimate basis for discrimination. In the State of Israel vs. Ashgoyev (1988), an Israeli settler was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court of shooting a Palestinian child. His sentence was a suspended jail term of six months and community service. When challenged, the judge, Uri Shtruzman, said: “It is wrong to demand in the name of equality, equal bearing and equal sentences to two offenders who have different nationalities who break the laws of the State. The sentence that deters the one and his audience does not deter the other and his community.”  I have to give Mr El-Said some credit here. It took a bit of a Google search to find the actual facts, which are in a post from CAMERA about a biased article published by a Marxist anti-Zionist; the details are as follows: "an examination of the author's own source — a document by the Arab rights organization Adalah  — shows otherwise. In Adalah's telling, the court, having found that the defendant "merely shot in the air" and rejected the argument that the defendant "aimed at the child and then shot him," convicted the shooter of "causing the death" of the Arab child. In other words, Ignatiev hides what even the openly partisan Adalah understands is essential information. More strikingly, Ignatiev conceals the fact that the light sentence was appealed by the (Israeli) attorney general and was overturned by a higher (Israeli) court. As Adalah notes:
Following the conviction and the sentence, both Ashgoyev and the Attorney General filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court accepted the appeal of the Attorney General, vacated the sentence imposed by the District Court, and re-sentenced the defendant to three years imprisonment followed by a two year conditional discharge.
In other words, the actual lesson of the case Ignatiev cites, if only readers are given the opportunity to hear all the facts, might be that the Israeli government challenges sentences that appear to be too light, and that its courts overturn those sentences" 

So El-Said has gone where even Adalah feared to tread. 

"The Nakba Bill{2011} – Persons marking Nakba Day as a day of mourning for the establishment of the State of Israel will be sentenced to prison. In the wake of public protests, its wording was changed to state that persons marking Nakba Day shall be denied public funds." Once again, a bill that specifically does NOT apply only to Arabs. The bill never passed in the original form; the version that passed specifically fine local authorities for holding Nakba Day events that specifically supported "armed resistance" (eg terrorism) against Israel, or defaced the flag or national symbols. Of course, a country has no obligation to have its public funds used for demonstrations against the very existence of the state, which is what the "Nakba Day" events are all about. 

And (finally, having spent 1.5 hours of my life that I can't get back sorting through all of these half-truths or flat-out lies) we get to the last one: 
"The Emergency Powers (Detention) Law {1979} and the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance {1948} – have been used to detain Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel without benefit of trial and without permitting contact with lawyers. The Criminal Procedure (Powers of Enforcement, Detentions) Law {1996} has been used to target Palestinian protests and make mass arrests to stifle political decent."

Even B'tselem, the Israeli human rights watchdog that leans over so far in favor of Palestinians that its view is often entirely upside down, puts the lie to this: "Over the years, Israel has also held a few Israeli citizens in administrative detention, among them settlers. These cases are scarce and most of the detainees were held for short periods."

Israel does use administrative detention widely against Palestinians in the territories, who are not citizens of Israel. But again the topic at hand is laws that discriminate against Arab citizens of Israel. 

Note that El-Said ends his post with a faked quote from Albert Einstein. I guess if you're going to lie, you might as well go all in.  I guess we'd have to call this an S El-Said {BDS} FAIL.

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