Israel renews racist marriage law

Man sits on edge of bench that says Europeans Only

Israel’s version of apartheid can be more subtle than South Africa’s, but the goal is fundamentally the same: ethno-racial gerrymandering, segregation and domination.

Picture-Alliance/DPA

Israel this week renewed one of the most overtly racist of the dozens of laws on its books that discriminate against Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law” prohibits Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip, or nationals from several other regional states, from living with their spouse in Israel.

“The law affects tens of thousands of Palestinian families on both sides of the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from legally moving into Israel to join their spouses,” according to Adalah, an advocacy group that has mounted unsuccessful court challenges to the law.

Originally passed as an emergency measure in 2003, the provision has been renewed annually ever since.

The law is part of Israel’s efforts to prevent the growth of the Palestinian population, a fundamentally racist measure justified by Israeli leaders as necessary to maintain a Jewish majority.

Zvi Hauser, the head of the foreign affairs and defense committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, said the renewal was justified by Israel’s recently passed Nation-State of the Jewish People law, which legal advocates say violates international prohibitions on apartheid.

In intent and effect the Israeli citizenship law is no different to the laws that used to exist in apartheid South Africa to prevent miscegenation, the “interbreeding” of people of different races, and to control where Black people could live – laws such as the Group Areas Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act.

While the Israeli law does not ban marriages outright, it does effectively prevent Israeli citizens and Palestinians from exercising their right to family life.

It aims to achieve precisely the same goal, albeit by slightly more subtle means than used by the white supremacists in South Africa, as I explain in my 2014 book The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

Racial gerrymandering

Israel initially justified the marriage law on the grounds of “security,” an excuse dismissed by Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said in 2012 that the “sweeping ban” without “any individual assessments of whether the person in question could threaten security, is unjustified” and “imposes severely disproportionate harm on the right of Palestinians and Israeli citizens to live with their families.”

The discrimination in the law could be measured “by its effects on Palestinian citizens of Israel as opposed to Jewish citizens,” it added.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time, admitted the true purpose of the law in 2005.

“There is no need to hide behind security arguments,” Sharon said. “There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state.”

“National suicide”

The racist demographic purpose of the law was reaffirmed in 2012 when the Israeli high court threw out Adalah’s challenge.

“Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide,” wrote Judge Asher Grunis for the 6-5 majority.

Effectively endorsing racial gerrymandering, the court’s ruling added that “the right to a family life does not necessarily have to be realized within the borders of Israel.”

Note the stark similarity of the terms used by Israel’s highest court to the words of South Africa’s apartheid Prime Minister Daniel Malan, who said in 1953 that “equality… must inevitably mean to white South Africa nothing less than national suicide.”

Palestinians affected have campaigned to raise awareness of the racist law by talking about the challenge it poses to “Love in the Time of Apartheid.”

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"While the Israeli law does not ban marriages outright, it does effectively prevent Israeli citizens and Palestinians from exercising their right to family life."

Actually, Israel does ban mixed marriages, although through a law slightly more subtle than the South Africa version. An Israeli law passed in 2010 gives religious authorities exclusive authority over all marriages in the country. It's a criminal offense (fine, imprisonment) in Israel for people to marry any other way; "civil" marriages are available only to people who have not declared a religion, which, given the enormous importance of these identities in Israel, is a microscopic minority. This law effectively bans mixed marriages because the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is Orthodox and doesn't allow Jews to marry non-Jews. Muslim religious authorities allow Muslim men to marry Jewish women, but again this would pertain to a microscopic minority, not least because such women would then be considered "Muslim" and lose their legal privileges in Israeli law as Jews. So, in sum, Israel does have a "Mixed Marriages Act" that's consistent both with South Africa's ban on mixed marriages and with the "inhuman act" of apartheid cited in the legal definition of apartheid in Article II(d) of the Apartheid Convention.

This means that Israel is practicing every single one of the sample "inhuman acts" of apartheid listed in the Apartheid Convention, except genocide (which South Africa didn't practice either).

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What a curious society it is which must kill itself in order to let people love who they wish. Perhaps nothing illustrates the Big Brother colouration of the Israeli State so well. Its irrational prejudice reaches into the heart of intimacy. A society which can preserve itself only by imposing such intrusive, insensitive and ultimately plain stupid strictures has good reason to fear its demise; not because it is being attacked from without but because its internal logic defies what it means to be human. Perhaps the Knesset should pass a law forbidding Israelis from falling in love with Palestinians and while its at at, one against rain on Tuesdays. The denatured character of Israeli society is shown in a stark light in this regard. Our laws, customs and culture have to be in keeping with our biological inheritance. You can't pass a law forbidding people to acquire language. Forbidding Israelis from living in Israel with their Palestinian spouses is tantamount to State control of what, by its nature, is beyond control. Falling in love, as everyone knows, is an experience which pushes beyond conscious choice. Israeli law attempts to limit people's emotional lives in a ludicrous manner. This is the stuff of farce, but also, of course, tragedy. What it points up very simply is that the State of Israel is founded on delusion. It can't grant its own citizens freedom because they might make choices which would destroy it. A society which fears its citizens' freedom is a society in serious trouble. The racism of the ethno-political Zionist project is the source. To say so will get you drummed out of the Labour Party, accused of anti-Semitism or of being a self-hating Jew. But all we are asking is that all people should be granted the same rights before the law. Isn't that what democrats claim to stand for?

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I wonder whether the Zionist Organization of America would care to express an opinion on Israel's marriage laws, and in particular the "Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law" as described here. I'd also like to hear their view on this matter from AIPAC, B'nai Brith, the ADL, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews- each of which plays a crucial role in sustaining external political and financial support for Israel.

Seriously, isn't it time to make apartheid a real issue in western countries? Each and every Zionist organization should be formally approached by independent journalists, law scholars and citizen groups with demands that they publish their stance on these egregiously racist laws, promulgations and policies. The responses where given should then be subjected to analysis and recommendations. If, for example, the ZOA were to receive hundreds of formal requests for a statement, that action in itself becomes newsworthy. A flat refusal to respond will then generate damaging publicity, while any attempt to defend such openly racist laws can be used to highlight the true nature of the regime.

A degree of coordination will be required to launch this effort, but it shouldn't be hard to build up a potent dossier exposing the character of Zionist associations abroad. Show them and the world exactly what they're fighting for and funding. These rancid laws should become known to all, especially those who persist in the belief that there's no contradiction between Zionism and human rights.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

In these laws one can discern the similarity with the South African and israelis laws concerning marriage between jews and non jews. The Nuremberger laws had a clear racist character. Nothing was hidden. Also the purpose was very clear. It was designed to keep german blood clean of non german blood. It concerned jews, black people, gypsies and their "bastards ". Even the Japanese, although german allies, were considered as not Aryan but it was veiled because of the political implications it could have on the relations between Japan and Nazi Germany.
Both states, South Africa aswell as Israel were inspired by the racist Nazi state ideology. Don''t tell me that I am an antisemitic because the resemblance is to obvious.

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It may seem reasonable to compare Israeli laws to Nazi German laws if only because the chronology might seem to support this. The Nazis came to power in the 1930s; the State of Israel formed in 1948 and the Knesset passed its major racist laws in 1950-52. But that would go against the actual history of these movements, for Zionist ideology long predated the rise of Nazi Germany, as did Afrikaner South African racial nationalism.

It would be more accurate to say that all three took their premises and state-building goals from 19th century colonial racial "sciences" and the subsequent rise of racial nationalism, which crested globally between 1890 and 1939. Zionism in its modern, ethnic-cleansing form was largely formalized at the Basle Conference in 1898 and Herzl's guiding tome, The Jewish State, had been published a few years earlier. In those same years, Afrikaners were fighting the British for independent Afrikaner-racial statehood. And seeds of German racial nationalism were being planted in Europe, although the monarchy postponed its rise, as did - briefly - the Weimar Republic. Hitler's movement was entirely unoriginal in this respect: he simply transplanted a global racial-nationalist discourse into the German context, with particular fixation on the "danger" of Jews to the imagined bloodline of the "Aryan" nation.

In other words, Nazi/Aryan racism, Afrikaner/South African racial nationalism and Jewish-Zionist racial nationalism were fellow travelers in an early-20th century global climate of ideas that inspired local adaptations to suit local conditions. What stands out for us today is that Nazi racial nationalism fatally discredited the idea everywhere else, but it hangs on as an anachronism in Israel. This was famous European historian Tony Judt's point back in 2003. https://www.nybooks.com/articl...

What's strange is that so few people today, who think a "Jewish state" is a good idea, realize this.

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They are missing the point of this marriage law. They aren't worry that these European settlers of Jew ideology are going to look for a non-jewish couple, there's no need of a law for that, discrimination does that. A main distinction of this ideology is that they stuntly reject intermarriage The disguise is Judaism for white supremacy. They have never wanted a state with a citizenship, that obliges them to recognize everybody under the same laws. But they couldn't find a way to avoid it. That's what the law is about: maintaining a white majority with policies that don't permit the native population that remained to grow or even maintain their numbers.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.