Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Israel - Nakba, Apartheid, Racist?

My Twitter "discussion" with @engelo brought the realization that Tweets aren't enough to discuss this issue. This post isn't enough to discuss this issue. But I'll try to start anyways.

First, let's dispel any notion that Israel is "apartheid." Apartheid is a system of racial segregation mandated by the law. The South in the early 19th century could be constituted as apartheid. South Africa was apartheid until 1994. Israel isn't. Why? Because there's no legislated racism, or legislated segregation between Jews and non-Jews, or between Arabs and non-Arabs. Anyone who is a citizen of the State of Israel, regardless of ethnicity, religion, creed, gender... has full and equal rights under the law. You can be a doctor; go to the same schools; use the same buses; drive on the same highways; run for government; serve in the Knesset (Israel's Parliament); serve in the Cabinet; be Prime Minister (if you get enough votes); serve on the Supreme Court; and the list goes on. Just a parenthetical note, an ARAB Supreme Court Justice just sentenced the JEWISH former President to prison. You can't really get any less apartheid than that. That should get that out of the way.

Yes, it's true that people can be racist. But if a White person in the USA doesn't like a Black person, because he/she is Black, does that make the USA an apartheid regime, or does that mean the White person is racist? The same logic applies in Israel.

A common theme brought up when claiming Israel to be apartheid is "they have a wall." This is a classic example of twisting and deceiving for one's own goals. It is true that there's a fence (as well over 90% is a chain-link fence, and not a wall. Only a small portion is a wall to prevent sniper fire) but this fence is first and foremost (and only) a SECURITY fence. The purpose of the fence is to keep terrorists out. And it's succeeded. Just look at the drop in terrorism in the past 10 years. The fence is meant as a security buffer, and it works. There's nothing racist about the fence at all. (When Palestinian Arabs have been negatively affected, they have gone to the Supreme Court which has either forced Israel to change the route of the fence or compensate them accordingly, including paying rent!)

Other points brought up by our Twitter friend: Israel was partitioned by colonialists and not the natives. It was unfairly biased towards the Jews and against Christians and Muslims.

Well, no. It was partitioned originally by the Brits. No they weren't the natives. The natives were originally the Jews who were expelled by the Romans. Sure there has been a long-term Muslim presence, but that doesn't exclude the even longer-term presence of Jews. The Jews were simply looking for a state of their own, no different than any other group that can have their own country. Where should they do this? Probably in their homeland. Even the Koran recognizes Israel as the homeland of the Jews. So they (we) returned. But the Arabs living here didn't like the Jews. This was before any "settlements" were being constructed; before any "Palestinian land" was being "stolen and raped;" before any Arabs were being "dehumanized"... They still found the need to massacre the Jewish community of Hebron.

So before anyone talks about Apartheid, Nakba (which the Arabs brought upon themselves by attacking Israel and losing; by telling themselves to leave because "Israel will be vanquished" and then "we can return") and racism, please explain yourself more clearly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Israel's Supreme Court - Judicial Reform

One of the great aspects of the United States Supreme Court is honor. More honor is attached to that court than most in the world. And rightly so.
The same cannot be said about the Supreme Court or High Court of Justice in Israel. And again, rightly so.

In the United States, the President of the USA is responsible for choosing a new justice. He (or she) selects someone, who must be confirmed by the Senate. Sound like they're overstepping their bounds? Don't worry - once selected, appointed, and confirmed, a Supreme Court Justice is on for life, or until they choose to step down, (unless impeached).

Israel has an interesting way of choosing new justices. While there is a committee that consists of 3 current justices, 2 MKs, 2 ministers (including the Justice Minister,) and 2 members of the Bar, usually, all are aligned to the left. Regardless, only the justices have veto power. So not only can justices help select their successors, they can also keep out unwanted ones. And there's a mandatory retirement age of 70.

What does that leave us with? General neutrality and impartiality in the USA, as they're there for life with no job fears, and in general, there's a pretty even make-up of Conservatives to Liberals. In Israel? Liberal to extremely liberal.

Not disrespecting the court enough yet? In the United States, the court sees very limited cases. They see the real landmark cases. They see cases where the government has perhaps overstepped their Constitutional authority. In Israel? Seemingly every case is eventually appealed up to the Supreme Court. Cases that possibly have zero to do with the government. Cases involving NGOs suing one another...

New judicial reform bills have been proposed in the Knesset to correct at least some issues. By requiring potential justices to be first confirmed by the Knesset's Legislative Committee, it would instill at least some form of accountability into the system by preventing the court from running away with control, and constantly stocking it with their own replacements.

The court is there to protect the law. Judges should uphold the honor and integrity that is due the court. Unfortunately, at least since the times of Ahron Barak, and continued with Dorit Beinisch, the court has been filled with judicial activists, who simply feel it is their right as Supreme Court justices to write the law as they feel, disregard laws passed by the Knesset they don't like, and ignore the people and the Knesset's wishes, and the spirit of the law.

Happy November 29th! כ"ט בנובמבר שמח!!


Once again, the world shows its hypocrisy. I guess it's good to wait until the 29th of November for Lebanon to start launching rockets at Israel...apropos and all.

But has there been any international outcry? Has the UN Security Council convened an "urgent meeting?" Where's the UNHRC? What about all the NGOs?