Jewish Journal

Ha’aretz calls Israel an ‘apartheid state’

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 27, 2008 | 3:00 pm

Last fall, the liberal Israeli daily Ha’aretz likened the situation in the occupied territories to political apartheid. But roll out the red carpet for Jimmy Carter, but today Ha’aretz took the indictment several steps further in an editorial from Publisher Amos Schocken about the Citizenship Law:

In effect, the law prevents young Israeli citizens from marrying the spouse of their choice and living with this spouse in Israel, if the spouse is a Palestinian from Judea and Samaria.

It is obvious that this has barely any effect on the right of young Israeli Jews to live in their country with the spouse of their choice, because there are hardly any marriages between Israeli Jews and Palestinians from Judea and Samaria. On the other hand, these Palestinians constitute Israeli Arabs’ natural pool for choosing a spouse. For this reason, the law severely discriminates when comparing the rights of young Israeli Jewish citizens and young Israeli Arab citizens.

When the law was first passed in 2003, supposedly as a temporary one-year measure, it was accompanied by security reasoning - the risk of implanting terrorists in Israel via marriage. The reasoning was faulty even at that time: Every Palestinian who wishes to enter Israel must be addressed individually. It is the Shin Bet security service’s task to do this and thus carry out its mission - protecting the security of Israel’s citizens such that the country remains democratic, with equal rights for all. However, as the years go by, it becomes clear that the security argument and the term “temporary measure” are merely a deception aimed at “koshering” discriminatory legislation for demographic reasons.

The claim that there are indications of an apartheid state in Israel is widely heard in the Western world. The word apartheid is catchy and understood in many parts of the world, which makes it useful to send a message that we resent and which we claim has no connection with reality in Israel. However, we do not have to identify the characteristics of South African apartheid in the civil rights discrimination in Israel in order to call Israel an apartheid state. The amendment to the Citizenship Law is exactly the kind of practice that leads to the use of such a term, and it is best that we not try to evade the truth: Its existence in the law books turns Israel into an apartheid state.

Read the rest of Schocken’s editorial here.

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