Profile of Institutionalized Racism
by Stephen Lendman
According to Hamoked
, the Center for the Defence of the Individual, Israel revoked residency rights for about 240,000 Gaza and West Bank Palestinians from 1967 to 1994. About 15,000 were aged 90 or older.
Another 14,000 East Jerusalemites were included through 2011.
HaMoked’s Freedom of Information petition provided information not previously available.
Revocations were executed two ways. Palestinians remaining abroad for extended periods or excluded from Israeli 1981 through 1988 census data were affected.
Residents under either criteria were assigned a “ceased residency status.” No hearings or reviews were held. Official notices weren’t given. Diktat authority violated international law. Protected persons were expelled from their homeland. Family separations and other hardships followed.
The right of return is universal.
Under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
In 1969, the General Assembly passed Resolution 2535. It recognizes “that the problem of Palestine Arab refugees has arisen from the denial of their inalienable rights under the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
In 1974, General Assembly Resolution 3236 reaffirmed “the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return.”
UNGA Resolution 194 (December 1948) said “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage which, under the principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible.”
Israel’s UN admission was conditional on accepting and implementing Resolution 194. The General Assembly reaffirmed the right of return 135 times. Residents everywhere traveling abroad for any length of time or reason have similar rights.
According to Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad
, “It’s the occupation, stupid.”
Ed-Ad quoted Israel’s Supreme Court, saying:
For 45 years, “Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been under the State’s belligerent occupation. They are not part of the State of Israel.”
Anyone not living “on Mars” understands, said El-Ad. Forty-five years of occupation institutionalized harshness. Israel made its choice. “What is left to deal with now are (its) consequences.”
On June 11, the Adalah
Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.
“(T)en urgent issues” were discussed. They cover discriminatory practices against Arab Israeli citizens and Israel’s violations of international law provisions.
Lack of Equal Rights Protections
Israel has Basic Laws. No constitution exists. Equal rights aren’t granted. One-fifth of Israel’s population suffers. Institutionalized racism harms them. No legal protections exist.
Dozens of discriminatory laws adversely affect Arab citizens. Rights apply only for Jews. All aspects of life are impacted. They include citizenship, political participation, land, housing, culture, education, healthcare, employment, and religious rights.
Excessive Force Against Peaceful Demonstrators
Arab Israeli citizens are targeted like occupied Palestinians. Extreme violations occur. Residents trying to protect their homes, property, and communities are harmed.
Police attack them with tear gas, rubber bullets, truncheons, and other weapons for defending their legal rights. Many are left homeless. They’re forced to pay demolition costs. No redress is possible. Police states don’t grant it.
Arab citizens are criminalized and arrested for acting in self-defense. Adalah lawyers defend those lawlessly charged.
Ban on Family Unification
Israel’s Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law flagrantly discriminates against Arab Israeli citizens. Separate and unequal is policy.
Legal status is denied Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens. Normal family life, equality and human dignity aren’t possible. Fundamental legal rights are prohibited on the basis of national identity. Collective punishment is policy.
Inviolable international laws are spurned. Banning family unification affects normal life, privacy, children, equal rights, and protection of minorities.
Adalah fought the law since enacted. In May 2006, a 6 – 5 Supreme Court majority upheld it. Adalah called the ruling a “violation of human rights and (failure) to provide a legal remedy (to) injured” Palestinian spouses and family members.
Israel’s High Court upheld a “racist law that denies a person’s fundamental constitutional rights on the basis of his or her national identity.”
It went far beyond nationality, ethnicity, religion, and entry into Israel. It legitimized collective punishment. It’s prohibited under international law. It also legitimized discrimination as policy. At the same time, it exposed Israel’s undemocratic harshness.
Democracies grant equal rights to all citizens. Separate and unequal policies are prohibited. Judges ruling otherwise have no place on any court.
Violations of Religious Rights
In June 2011, after nearly 10 years of deliberation, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that Beer Sheva’s Big Mosque should have “Islamic Museum” status. Petitioners want it reopened as a place of worship.
Municipal authorities want it only as a “general museum.” Doing so detaches it from its religious history and significance.
Authorities claimed making it operational would endanger public order and security. The court disagreed. It said “many of the arguments put forward should not have been made at all.”
Nonetheless, municipal officials flagrantly violated its ruling. Last December, it reopened the mosque as a general museum. Connections to Islamic culture and heritage are prohibited.
Israel only respects Jewish sites. They regulated under the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law. Through 2009, 135 sacred places were designated. All are Jewish.
Many Muslim ones are neglected or desecrated. Some became, bars, night clubs, stores or restaurants. Doing so shows appalling contempt for anyone not Jewish.
Denigrating the Arabic Language
Hebrew and Arabic are official languages. State policy “remains unwilling to grant substantive equal status to the Arabic language.”
Ministries refuse to accept official documents in Arabic. Israeli Supreme Court decisions are issued solely in Hebrew. Many are translated into English. It’s not an official language.
Laws and High Court rulings that road and other public signs be in Hebrew and Arabic aren’t enforced.
Demolitions and Ethnic Cleansing
Arab Bedouin citizens face ruthless discrimination. Israel declared their village “unrecognized.” International law recognizes no such legal definition. Nonetheless, persecution, threats, demolitions, and forced displacements follow.
Around 200,000 Bedouins are affected. They represent about 30% of the population. Israel calls them “trespassers on state land.”
It’s their land. It pre-dates Israel by generations. Parts of it were established by military order in the 1950s. New land was provided to substitute for other areas Israel expropriated. Banishing people from their own land constitutes grand theft.
Discriminatory Negev Water Rights
Israel denies Bedouin families access to clean water. Unrecognized village residents improvise as best they can. Doing so creates hardships and poses health hazards. Poor quality water risks dehydration, intestinal infections, dysentery, and other diseases.
Israel denies water to enforce ethnic cleansing. Israel’s High Court ruled Bedouins entitled to “minimal (water) access.” It ordered several villages connected to supplies. Israel’s Water Board refused to comply.
Denial of Free Expression, Opinion and Association
Israeli Arabs always were marginalized. Netanyahu escalated attacks. Israel’s Knesset is more repressive and racist than others preceding it. According to Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
Recent “restrictive bills….contravene international standards on the right to freedom of expression and opinion.”
Israel’s Anti-Boycott Law grievously harms these rights. It prohibits publicly boycotting Israeli institutions and illegal settlements.
The Nakba Law reduces or excludes funding for organizations conducting activities contradicting the definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state, or mourns Israel’s independence.
Numerous other laws institutionalized discrimination and prohibitions of fundamental rights.
Infringing Political Participation Rights
Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) affords every citizen the right “to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.”
Nonetheless, Israeli Arabs are marginalized, excluded and persecuted. Elected MKs had their parliamentary privileges denied. Others lost immunity. Some face spurious criminal indictments for their legitimate, protected political activity.
MK Mohammed Barakeh was indicted for participating in four nonviolent protests against Israel’s Separation Wall, the 2006 Lebanon war, and unaccountability of its officials for killing Palestinians.
MK Sa’id Naffaa lost his parliamentary immunity. He was then indicted for visiting Syria in September 2007 as part of a holy site pilgrimage. Spurious charges included contact with a foreign agent.
MK Haneed Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges were stripped. At issue was participating in the May 2010 humanitarian Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
Her diplomatic passport was revoked. So were her overseas travel privileges, and right to have the Knesset pay her legal expenses in case of criminal prosecution.
She was viciously assailed. Called a “terrorist” and “traitor,” extremist ministers and MKs wanted, but failed, to have her Knesset membership and citizenship revoked.
Violating Residence Rights
The 2011 Admissions Committees Law grants “admission committees” full discretion to accept or reject individuals seeking community residency. They operate in about 700 agricultural and small community towns. They’re built on state land nationwide.
Committee members must be representatives of “the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization.” Arabs can be excluded for praying to the wrong God.
At issue is institutionalizing preferential Jewish treatment, marginalizing Arabs, and denying them equal rights. Israel legalized it.
A Final Comment
On June 12 Mondoweiss
headlined “Haaretz article in Hebrew suggests that racism is inherent in Zionism,” saying:
Yonatan Mandel wrote it. He’s a Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem Department of Politics and Government researcher. One except covers the “Ulpana Hill controversy, in which West Bank settlers are facing eviction” for building homes on Palestinian land.
Mandel calls the debate “astounding. There’s the Israeli government sitting on top of private Palestinian land, and negotiating with the Jewish settlers such details as the compensation level, the number of houses that will be built instead for them as well as moving them into other areas under the responsibility of the ‘Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.’ “
Palestinian land owners have no say. No compensation for losses are offered. Nor are fair compromises proposed. They’re never considered.
“Not only does Israel never compensate Palestinians for construction, it mainly talks to them in the language of destruction.”
“The Zionist movement, and now Israel, still do not see the Arabs. So even in 2012, it still seems to have remained the ‘hidden question;’ it remains an annoying buzz that there is really no need to address. The problem is that today there are far fewer ears that can hear the crying.”
Zionism is fundamentally racist, extremist, undemocratic, and militant. It espouses Jewish supremacy, exceptionalism, and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people.”
It institutionalized occupation, oppression, violence and dispossession. It justifies structural inequalities. It rules by force, not coexistence. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy and rule of law provisions.
It denies Arabs equal rights as Jews. No ideology this destructive can endure. Peace and reconciliation aren’t possible until it’s universally repudiated.
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