New Israeli Discriminatory Laws Tabled
by Stephen Lendman
Israel reflects the worst of rogue state ruthlessness. State terror is official policy. Militarized occupation harshness reflects it. So does institutionalized racism.
Israel’s Knesset is its most hardline ever. It reflects hardline extremist rule.
Adalah is the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. On October 14, it discussed “a short list of the most dangerous discriminatory new bills tabled so far by” Knesset lawmakers.
They threaten fundamental Israeli Arab and Occupied Palestinian rights.
(1) The Prawer/Begin Plan Bill (Bill for the Regulation of the Settlement of Bedouin in the Negev (2012).
If enacted, tens of thousands of Bedouin Israeli citizens will be displaced. Their homes will be destroyed. Their land and other property will be lost.
On January 3, 2012, the bill was originally submitted. On May 27, 2013, it was re-tabled. Harmful amendments were added.
Changes include reducing the implementation timeframe from five to three years. On June 24, the bill passed its first reading.
When Israel’s 19th Knesset convenes in mid-October, it’ll be discussed in committee.
(2) Contributors to the State Bill (2013)
It seeks preferential treatment for citizens who contribute to the state. For example, through military or civil service.
It discriminates against Israeli Arab citizens. With few exceptions, they’re exempt from military service. It’s for historical, cultural and political reasons.
Preferential treatment Jews enjoy include employment, pay, benefits, education, healthcare, land for housing, and related subsidies.
Bill language says special treatment won’t be considered discriminatory under Israeli law despite clear evidence otherwise.
Amendments include further special benefits. Specific population groups are earmarked for civil service jobs.
On June 16, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill. On July 29, it was re-tabled with modifications.
Other pending legislation provides additional financial privileges. They’re for Israelis providing military service.
They include four-year exemptions from national insurance contributions, reductions in income taxes for reservists, no television license fee, and financial help studying engineering and technology.
One measure is called The Encouragement of the Study of Engineering and Technology. It amends the Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Law (2013). On June 1, it passed its preliminary reading.
(3) Civil and political rights measures
Various bills require a higher percentage of votes for Knesset membership. They mainly target Arab parties. Some or all risk falling below new thresholds introduced.
Measures seek to raise them from the current 2% to between 3 and 5% in future elections.
Higher thresholds mean less Arab representation. Throughout Israeli history, Jews alone held power. Arab citizens may vote.
They can hold Knesset seats if elected. They can address other members. It doesn’t matter. They’re little more than potted plants.
Israeli hardliners want them shut out entirely. Current legislation threatens them. What good is party affiliation without Knesset representation?
One measure called The Governance and Raising the Qualifying Election Threshold, Bill to Amend Basic Law: The Government (2013) seeks a 4% minimum for Knesset representation.
It won government support. On July 31, it passed its first reading.
(4) Jenin, Jenin Bill: Bill to amend the Defamation Prohibition Law (2013)
It expands existing law. It lets Israeli soldiers file class action lawsuits against film directors, journalists, or others for alleged defamation regarding Occupied Palestinian incursions or other belligerence.
Under existing law, if defamatory remarks target specific groups (not individuals), they can’t sue for defamation without Attorney General approval.
Amendment language annuls AG authorization. Doing so threatens Palestinians. It compromises their ability to seek justice. It whitewashes Israeli military crimes.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the bill. On April 22, it passed its preliminary reading.
(5) Basic Law: Israel, Nation State of the Jewish People Bill (2013)
It calls Israel the nation state of the Jewish people. It changes the “Jewish and democratic” definition. It subordinates the democratic component. It makes it secondary to Jewishness.
It says national self-determination belongs exclusively to Jews. Doing so grossly discriminates against Arab citizens. It does so more than already.
They’re already considered fifth column threats. They marginalized and denied equal treatment. This measure assures worse treatment. It does so by granting Basic Law status.
Israel has no constitution. Basic Law substitutes. It’s Israel’s highest form of law. Institutionalizing racism this way takes it to a higher level. Further Knesset action awaits.
(6) Counter-Terrorism Bill (2011)
It targets Israeli Arab citizens and Occupied Palestinians. It does so unfairly. It allegedly does it to fight so-called terrorism and terrorist organizations.
Disturbing language is used. So are vague definitions. Doing so assures criminalizing peaceful political actions.
Long out-of-date British Mandatory period measures are retained. So are older Israeli emergency regulations.
New draconian ones are added. They relate to investigating security offenses. They permit extensive use of secret evidence. Most often it’s fabricated.
Detainees’ access to judicial review is limited. Evidentiary requirements overall are lowered to let charges stick.
New criminal offenses are created. They include public expressions of support for alleged terrorist groups.
Maximum sentences for security offense convictions are sharply increased. In July 2011, the measure was first introduced.
On June 9, 2013, it was re-tabled. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved it the same day. Further Knesset action awaits.
(7) Bill to amend the Civil Wrongs Law (Liability of the State) (Amendment No. 7) (Amendment of the Beginning of Article 5b) (2013)
The measure adopts the Israeli High Court minority Derani v. The State of Israel ruling. It prohibits someone from a so-called “enemy state” from suing for damages retroactively in Israeli courts.
West Bank and Gaza residents may only do so for what happened pre-September 2000. It’s when the second Intifada began.
In 2009, Israelis elected their most hard right Knesset ever. Dozens of discriminatory laws followed. New measures are regularly introduced.
Over 50 laws discriminate unfairly against Arab Israeli citizens. They cover all aspects of life, well-being, security, and fundamental rights under international law.
Citizenship became a privilege, not a right. Arab citizens were dispossessed of their land, homes and other property. Their political participation was compromised.
Political acts or speech were criminalized. Jews increasingly became more privileged across the board.
Some legislation preempted, circumvented, or overturned Supreme Court decisions. Racist laws more than ever became institutionalized.
Arab Israeli citizen rights virtually don’t exist. One law after another subverted them. New ones continue to do so.
Some laws unfairly target Occupied Palestinians. They’re governed largely by lawless military orders. Doing so denies them virtually all fundamental rights under international standards and norms.
A Final Comment
On October 3, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) protested against raising the electoral threshold.
Doing so weakens political representation, it said. It submitted a position paper explaining why. Issues raised include:
(1) “Subverting minority representation, particularly the Arab minority and the Haredi (conservative Orthodox Judaic) minority.”
(2) “Undermining voter participation.”
(3) Undermining proportional representation and equality principles.
(4) Acting polar opposite other nations with fixed voting system thresholds. Some have none whatsoever.
(5) Israel’s justification for acting pertaining to damaging stability and governability doesn’t wash.
“What must be done,” asked ACRI? If Israel’s electoral threshold is raised, measures should be adopted to ensure minority group Knesset representation.
It can be done, said ACRI, by adopting a special threshold for them or none at all. It cited “Serbian Law” as an example.
Its Central Elections Committee recognizes ethnic minority parties. They’re exempt from threshold compliance.
Don’t expect Israel to do likewise. Institutionalized racism prevents it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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