On the nature of Israeli apartheid

John Spritzer has an older but relevant article on what just makes the Jewish state Jewish. To quote:

“The Jewishness of Israel is embodied in a set of laws which confer rights and benefits on Jews but not on others.” […]

“The second-class status of Arabs inside Israel is enforced by laws that privilege being Jewish, rather than by a formal denial to Arabs of citizenship or the right to vote and hold office. Thus the document says that Arabs shall have ‘complete equality of social and political rights’ and ‘full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its [Israel’s] provisional and permanent institutions.’ But the Law of Return, passed in 1950, begins: ‘Every Jew has the right to immigrate to the country.’ Yet one of the central grievances of Palestinians is that they cannot do the same thing; they cannot return to their homes of many generations in Israel. Even Arabs who never left Israel, but who only stayed for a few days in a nearby village with relatives to wait for the fighting in 1948 to end, are now categorized in Israel as ‘present absentees,’ a category in which they remain forever, and in consequence of which their homes and property remain in the possession of the Custodian of Absentee Property, who puts the property at the disposal of Jews.”

“Private organizations serving only Jewish interests hold quasi-governmental authority in Israel for policies that affect non-Jews. The main example of this is the Jewish Agency, which calls itself ‘the agency for Jewish interests in Eretz [‘the land of”] Israel…[it’s] role is defined…as a voluntary, philanthropic organization with responsibility for immigration, settlement and development, and coordination of the unity of the Jewish people.” The (Jewish) Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs describes the Jewish Agency as ‘a quasi-public, voluntary institution sharing many, often overlapping, functional jurisdictions with government.’ Yes, Arabs could set up a private ‘Arab Agency,’ but it would not have the quasi-governmental power, for example, to dispose of Jewish property the way the law allows the Jewish Agency to dispose of Arab property: the state’s Custodian of Absentee Property hands Arab property to the Jewish Agency, but it does not hand Jewish property to any Arab agency. Jews don’t have their property confiscated as “present absentees” because Jews, unlike Arabs, enjoy the “Right of Return.’”

“The U.N. Conciliation Commission estimated that about 80 percent of the land in what is today Israel is property formerly owned by Palestinians that was confiscated by Jewish organizations like the Jewish Agency. Palestinians are forbidden by Israeli law from owning it. Of all the land that may be legally sold in Israel, 67% of it may not legally be sold to Arabs, while none of it is barred from being sold to Jews. Thus, while Palestinians may be citizens in Israel, they are second class citizens, which is precisely what it means to live in a ‘Jewish state’ when one is not Jewish. Yet another feature of Israel that makes it an apartheid state is that it aims to separate Jews and Arabs on a personal level. For example, a Jew and an Arab cannot legally marry each other in Israel; such marriages, if performed outside the country, are not recognized under Israeli law.”

“Section 7A(1) of the Basic Law of Israel explicitly prevents Israeli citizens – Arab or Jewish – from using the “democratic” system of Israeli elections to challenge the inferior status of Arabs under the law; it restricts who can run for political office with this language: ‘A candidates’ list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if among its goals or deeds, either expressly or impliedly, are one of the following: (1) The negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People. …’ In a 1989 Israeli Supreme Court ruling (reported in the 1991 Israel Law Review, Vol. 25, p. 219, published by the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Justice S. Levine, speaking for the majority, ruled that this law meant that a political party could not run candidates if it intended to achieve the cancellation of one of the fundamental tenets of the State – namely ‘the existence of a Jewish majority, the granting of preference to Jews in matters of immigration, and the existence of close and reciprocal relations between the State and the Jews of the Diaspora.’”

[Spritzer’s full article here.]

There is more to the issue than Spritzer covers. To quote something I wrote some time ago:

Resource allocation [in Israel] is skewed toward the Jewish ‘sectors’.  Examples of this could fill books (and indeed do).  Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the Jim Crow nature of the state, calling Arab schools and neighborhoods “separate and unequal” as a matter of policy. (See HRW, “Second Class: Discrimination against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel’s Schools” here.) Another report notes the many Arab neighborhoods in Israel which, despite housing thousands, have been declared “unrecognized” by the state and hence remain ineligible for public goods (like electricity and water) altogether. (There are no cases of “unrecognized” Jewish-majority neighborhoods, and there are “recognized” Jewish neighborhoods further out on the periphery of the country than non-recognized Arab ones, indicating the problem is deliberate and not logistical). (See also Lustick, “Arabs in the Jewish State: Israel’s Control of a National Minority.”)

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One response to “On the nature of Israeli apartheid

  1. Pingback: Assessing Justifications for Zionism Based on “Historical Ties” « amerikanbeat

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