Additionally, Taub deliberately omits that the Zionist goal of a “Jewish state” relied heavily – some may argue, primarily – on denying the indigenous population of Palestine the very “universal right of self-determination” that these European immigrants were claiming for themselves. Nevertheless, Taub later claims, “In Israel proper, the Arab minority represents about a fifth of its 7.2 million citizens, and they have full legal equality.”
To call this last statement disingenuous would be an insult to that word’s actual definition. The claim is an outright lie.
For starters, whereas the Israeli Proclamation of Independence (unilaterally declared on May 14, 1948, in defiance of the international community and the “universal right” of Palestinian self-determination) declared that the new state would “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” and “guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture,” the Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly stated, in a series of decisions, that “the proclamation does not have constitutional validity, and that it is not a supreme law which may be used to invalidate laws and regulations that contradict it.” Furthermore, the Israeli “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty,” enacted in 1992 and which carries with it the ostensible force of a bill of rights (as Israel has no Constitution), tellingly makes absolutely no mention of “equality,” and affirms “State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” a concept which explicitly grants legal and collective superiority upon Jewish nationals to the implicit detriment of other Israeli citizens.
In its concluding observations on Israel’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, published on July 29, 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee noted with concern that Israel’s Basic Law “does not contain a general provision for equality and non-discrimination.”
The US State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories, released in March, states that: “Institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, Palestinian Arabs, non-Orthodox Jews, and other religious groups continued, as did societal discrimination against persons with disabilities. Women suffered societal discrimination and domestic violence. The government maintained unequal educational systems for Arab and Jewish students.”
The 2003 “Official Summation of the Or Commission Report,” an Israeli government-sponsored investigative finding, even categorized the government’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens “primarily neglectful and discriminatory.”
Back in 1998, the United Nations Human Rights Committee observed that, in Israel, there exist “deeply imbedded discriminatory social attitudes, practices and laws against Arab Israelis that have resulted in a lower standard of living compared with Jewish Israelis, as is evident in their significantly lower levels of education, access to health care, access to housing, land and employment.” Continuing, the Committee noted “with concern that most Arab Israelis, because they do not join the army, do not enjoy the financial benefits available to Israelis who have served in the army, including scholarships and housing loans. The Committee also expresses concern that the Arab language, though official, has not been accorded equal status in practice, and that discrimination against members of the Arab minority appears to be extensive in the private sector.”
Israeli Professor Uzi Ornan, writing in Ha’aretz almost twenty years ago, explained that the “blatant discrimination against non-Jews” is evidence that “Apartheid is so powerful a mindset in this society, that its existence and preservation is championed by all the members of the ‘Zionist parties,’ including those who believe themselves to be in the vanguard of the struggle for socialism, peace and equal rights.” (‘Apartheid Laws in Israel – The Art of Obfuscatory Formulation’, Ha’aretz, May 17, 1991)
Not only have conditions in Israel not improved in the past two decades, they have actually worsened. Three months ago, Avishay Braverman, Minister of Minority Affairs, described Israel as “the most unequal society amongst western nations.” In March, a report by two prominent Israeli civil rights groups found that, in the last few years, “the Israeli government passed at least 21 bills aimed at discriminating against the country’s Arab citizens making the current Knesset…the most racist Israeli parliament since the country’s founding.” In the first three months of 2010, an additional 21 racist laws had already been proposed. The report’s authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said, “There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country’s Arab citizens.”
Recently, Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, vice-president of the Israel Democracy Institute, stated that the “ugly trend” of discrimination and delegitimization of Israel’s Palestinian citizens is comparable to “a McCarthyite campaign against civil society,” while Ilan Saban, a law professor at Haifa University, said that, “Unlike most — if not all — other democracies, Israel lacks a political culture that respects limits on the power of the majority.”
As such, in Israel today, “only Jews enjoy full rights,” observes George Bisharat, professor at Hastings College of the Law, explaining that “Palestinian citizens of Israel endure more than 35 laws that explicitly privilege Jews as well as policies that deliberately marginalize them.” This is not an exaggeration, and may in fact be a gross understatement, considering Israel’s two-tiered legal system.
The Israeli Knesset has proposed loyalty oaths meant to affirm Jewish superiority. There is separate citizenship status for Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis. There is discrimination in real estate laws (especially the fact that about 93% of pre-1967 Israel is deemed the “inalienable property of the Jewish people” and the rights of residency, business ownership, and often even employment is explicitly denied to all non-Jews solely because they are not Jewish). Interfaith marriage is prohibited. The legacy of military control looms over the Palestinian Arab community’s public education system, in which there is overt apartheid and funding inequity. Israeli police officers and soldiers kill Palestinians with impunity and Palestinian men are convicted of rape for “claiming to be Jewish” and having sex with Jewish women. The erasure of Palestinian history, culture, and identity is both profound and deliberate. Palestinian cemeteries are desecrated. The Shin Bet security service is authorized to “thwart the activity of any group or individual seeking to harm the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel, even if such activity is sanctioned by the law.” Racism is systematic and institutionalized. These are the policies and realities of life within the Green Line and all are evidence of the “fundamental” injustice in Israeli society.
Mitchell Plitnick, a former editor of the online information service Jewish Peace News and former co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace, who has worked for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, recently applauded Norway’s divestment from an Israeli company involved in “building settlements in the West Bank and working on construction of the Separation Barrier.” Nevertheless, he made clear that his support for BDS stops abruptly at the Green Line, because, in his opinion, “the movement as a whole has become associated with one-state ideologies and support for the Palestinian Right of Return, two points that fall well outside the international diplomatic consensus and are non-starters for most of Europe’s elites.”
Arguing, essentially, that a “Jewish Israel” should not be affected in any way by some future, hypothetical peace agreement, Plitnick claims that “the problem is the settlements” and that the way to “address the historic, and massive, injustice done to the Palestinians” is not “by promoting a single state where Jews lose their political self-determination and quickly become a minority in the area in question.”