by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, January 20, 2012
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:
According to Physicians for Human Rights/Israel's Shahar Shoham:
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 proceed."
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:
In a January 12 press release, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority rights in Israel said:
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 citizens.
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 rights."
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 retired.
She also could have replaced her with a like-minded justice, rather than Neal Hendel who sided with the majority.
One source said:
In other words, she wanted it both ways. Moreover, the High Court's "afraid of ruling against" Israel's most extremist ever Knesset.
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:
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 followed.
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:
According to Palestinian historian Arif al-Arif in his book titled, "The Nakba of Palestine and Paradise Lost":
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 racism.
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 ruling:
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:
According to United Arab List MK Ahmed Tibi:
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 Israel.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman