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Extension of Israeli nationality law entrenches racial discrimination

Security concern continues to usurp collective consciousness and Jewish identity. Last Sunday, the Israeli government approved a proposal by Interior Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, to extend the citizenship law by a year, thus preventing the family unification between Israeli Arabs and their spouses from Arab countries, the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Following Shin Bet’s assessment of the divided family members as a ‘terror threat’; the extension highlights Israel’s apartheid rule through racial discrimination and a warped understanding of democracy.


Various petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court against the discriminatory legislation enacted in 2003. Israel’s reaction to the opposition voiced by Israeli Arabs has superseded predictability, entering into the realm of generalising repetition. State lawyers have declared the law a necessity ‘in order to prevent spouses of Israeli citizens from entering the country to carry out terrorist attacks’. In 2006, the Kadima party declared the legal intention to be demographic, in order to achieve a decline in the number of Arab citizens living in Israel, thus safeguarding the ‘Jewish character’ of the state. According to former minister of immigration, Zeev Boim, “We have to maintain the state’s democratic nature, but also its Jewish nature … The extent of entry of in-laws to Israeli territory is intolerable.”

PLO official, Saeb Erakat, criticised the decision and appealed the international community to ‘seriously examine the pattern of Israeli policies contributing to a situation of apartheid and to look into the wider effects and implications of the Israeli government’s precondition of being recognised as a Jewish state’. Human Rights Watch has stated that the law is in violation of Israel’s obligation to uphold the ‘International Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1966)’. However, these feeble forms of chastisement, together with the international community’s silence regarding Israel’s apartheid practices, cannot be expected to influence Israel into eradicating discrimination against Palestinians. Israel has presented more than enough evidence that it is impervious to ‘concerns’ about human rights violations.

Upholding the discriminative legislation and shifting attention to Gaza upon Shin Bet’s advice reflects the projection of security issues upon Palestinians. The creation of the conditions which necessitate security coordination fail to feature in Israel’s ‘justification’ of fragmenting families based upon the possibility of resistance. It is therefore, pertinent to indulge in the image of Israel as a ‘democracy’ bequeathing another form of collective punishment against Palestinians.

The exclusive nature of the Jewish state, built upon Zionist dogma, purposely fails to view itself as an apartheid regime, having acquired such foundations in the decades prior to the establishment of the state of Israel and sanctioned by imperial interests in the Middle East. Israel has, throughout the years, maintained a structured approach to demography. The initial declarations of ‘a barren land’ and the conjecture that Palestinians never existed have slowly evolved into a recognition that does not take into account the historical authenticity of Palestine and Palestinians. The preliminary denial of the Palestinian people has now evolved into an Israeli acknowledgement of a Palestinian minority which needs to be annihilated in order to eliminate ‘enemy subjects’ from its territory. For Israel, territory is as fluid as the borders it has repeatedly failed to ascertain within the science of cartography.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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