Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Israeli Citizenship

(The Declaration of Independance of Israel promised equal rights to Jews and non-Jews of Israel. This is what happened in reality:)

Full and equal rights of citizenship are guaranteed in principle for the Moslem and Christian inhabitants of Palestine, who live in that part of the territory assigned to the 'Jewish state'. Chapter 3, Article 1, of the Partition Resolution stipulates, "Palestinian citizens residing in Palestine outside the City of Jerusalem, as well as Arabs and Jews who, not holding Palestinian citizenship, as well as Arabs and Jews who, not holding Palestinian citizenship, reside in Palestine outside the City of Jerusalem, shal upon recognition of independence, become citizens of the State in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights."

In 1950, the Israeli authorities promulgated The Law of Return. This was followed in 1952 by The Nationality Law.

Under these to laws, the right of entry into Israel is automatically and unconditionally conferred upon a Jew, if whatever nationality, the moment he steps on Israeli soil. The Moslem and Christian Arabs, on the other hand, are not so privileged even wthin their own country. The fact that the Palestine Arab was born in the territory now under Israeli control is insufficient to confer upon him automatic citizenship, notwithstanding the specific stipulation in the United Nations Resolution and the common practices followed in all civilized countries. To become an Israeli citizen, an Arab must be naturalized. This is only possible by proving that he was born in the country; that he lived in Israeli occupoed territory three out of the five years preceding the date of his application for citizenship; that he is entitled to permanent residence; that he is settled or intends to settle permanently in the country; and that he has a sufficient knowledge of the Hebrew language. Even if the Arab met all these requirements, it was still left to the discretion of the Minister of Interior to grant or refuse the application.

Arab members of the Israeli Parliament anda section of the Jewish community considered the law discriminating and urged that provision should be made whereby all individuals who were born in the country should automatically be recognized as Israeli nationals, wheter or not they had a knowledge of Hebrew. The fact that Arabic was also regarded as an official language did not help the Arab resident in acquiring the citizenship of the country in which he was born and lives. Automatic citizenship, the Parlaiment members pointe out, was a natural right of the individual with existing practices all over the world; and was guaranteed in the United Nations Partition Resolution of 1947/ This request was flatly rejected and the law was enacted with all of its iniquities.

After this law was passed, the Minister of the Interior admitted in Parliament that racial discrimination did exist. But he pointed out that this stemmed, not from the Nationality Law, but from the Law of Return, which endowed only Jews with the right of 'return'. The former law, he argued, intende to distinuish between those whose loyalty to Israel was accepted and those who had to prove it.

Whatever the explanations, the fact remains that discrimination exists - be it under one law or another, or for pne reason or another. Whereas an alien is granted a citizenship the moment he steps on Palestine soil, provided he is a Jew, an Arab born in country of Palestinian parents many generations back, can acquire citizenship only by naturalization - and this under certain extraneous conditions.

Commenting on this law, the Hebrew paper Haaretz said that Nationality Law sacrificed an opportunity to establish better rapport between the Arab minority and the State. The demand - the paper continued - that Arabs be required to have some knowledge of Hebrew was unfair; and it supported the grant of automatic citizenship to all Arabs who had Israeli identity cards. The paper concluded by reminding the Israelis of the Jewish struggle for minority rights in other countries.

Derek Tozer, a British correspondent, writing in the American Mercrury, stated "the official policy of the Government (of Israel) is unequivocal. Arabs, like the Kews in Nazi Germany, are officially 'Class-B' citizens - a fact which is recorded on their identity cards."

William Zukerman, Editor of the Jewish Newsletter, said "a more flagrant case of discrimination is hard to find even in the annals of the chauvinistic twentieth century."

That discrimination exists and is not only racial but religious, is irrefutable. Jews throughout the world maintain that theyare ciizens entitled to full rights and equalities in the countries in which they have citizenship. They argue that, religiously, they are Jews who follow the teachings of the Holy Wit. Politically, economically, and socially, they see themselves as being no different from their fellow-citizens of other faiths. Their religion, they maintain, is a matter of conscience. Any attempt at discrimination is labelled as 'anti-semitism'. There is ample proof that Jews in all freedom-loving countries are recognized and accepted as Americans, English French, etc..., 'o the Jewish faith'. It follows with reason, therefore, that the Jews born in te Arab countries are 'Arabs of the Jewish faith' and they are so treated.

The fact that automatic citizenship rights are granted to an Iraqi or Yemenite Arab 'of the Jewish faith' the moment he enters Palestine, but denited to a Palestine Arab 'of the Moslem or Christian faith' who has been born and has lived in the country for generations, is a flagrant case of discrimination. No law similar to the Israeli Nationality Law is known to exist in any other civilized country. While Zionists insist on equality for Jews living outside Israel, they eny similar equality to non-Jews living inside the 'Jewish state'!

(Taken from Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest: Palestine 1914-67, Chapter 9: Arabs Under Israeli Rule)

(MFL notes: to the Neo-Cons and "Democracy" believers in Israel: You still believe your Israel is democractic?)

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