Thursday, January 12, 2012

Human rights equated with national suicide

Israel's high court upholds a law preventing Palestinians from living with their spouses in Israel.

By Ben White

"The Israeli government has repeatedly demanded that Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish state". Recent developments in the Knesset and High Court are exposing exactly what this means, and in doing so, throw the spotlight on the issue that the ‘peace process’ – and Western governments – refuse to tackle.

On Wednesday, Israel’s High Court rejected a legal challenge to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, by a six to five vote. The law, first passed as a ‘temporary’ measure in 2003 and renewed ever since, prevents Palestinians from the Occupied Territories (and those from ‘enemy states’) from living with their spouses in Israel.

For thousands of Palestinian families, Israel’s law means a choice between moving abroad, living apart, or living in Israel illegally. No wonder that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) condemned what it described as a “racist law” for the way it harms “the very texture of the lives of families whose only sin is the Palestinian blood that runs in their veins”.

Legal rights centre Adalah, who have been deeply involved with challenges to the law, said that the High Court had “approved a law the likes of which do not exist in any democratic state in the world, depriving citizens from maintaining a family life in Israel only on the basis of the ethnicity or national belonging of their spouse”.....

But in Israel, demography is by no means a ‘fringe’ concern, as this week’s news shows. Indeed, it has shaped government policy on immigration, land, and planning since 1948, for the brutal fact that the ‘Jewish majority’ was only realised in the first place by the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and their exclusion by both violent and ‘legal’ means. Still lauded as a progressive beacon by some, Israel continues to lay increasingly bare the hollow meaning of its ‘democracy’."

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