Mark Regev confirms Israel’s institutional racism

mark regev

twitterMark Regev, the well-known former spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office, was recently appointed as ambassador to the UK. One of Regev’s first public engagements on assuming his post was to speak at Oxford University (a video of the event can be viewed here).

During the post-speech Q&A, Regev was asked whether it is “fair for Jews to have the right to make Aliyah [emigrate] to Israel, but not for Palestinians to have the right to return.”

Under Israeli law, a Jew anywhere in the world can emigrate to Israel and receive citizenship. The same laws, meanwhile, served to denationalise Palestinians expelled in 1947-’49 – refugees who, to this day, have been prevented from returning home.

Regev’s answer was categorical: “Yes”, he shot back, before offering the following justification.

MANY COUNTRIES ACROSS THE PLANET GIVE SPECIFIC RIGHTS TO THEIR NATIONALS WHO ARE ABROAD, NOT JUST ISRAEL. THE GREEKS DO IT, WITH GREEK OVERSEAS COMMUNITIES, THE CHINESE DO IT WITH THEIR COMMUNITIES ABROAD, THE IRISH DO IT, WITH THEIR COMMUNITIES ABROAD. IS THAT RACISM?

This is neither a successful dodge nor a convincing rebuttal – but it is a revealing response.

According to Regev’s answer, the equivalent in Israel’s case would be preferential treatment for Israeli nationals who are abroad. Regev, however, is seeking to justify a status quo that privileges Jews, not Israelis – and at the expense of Palestinians (more on which below).

Thus in his attempt to present the State of Israel’s immigration and citizenship law as essentially no different to many other states, Regev actually drew attention to its exceptionality. Irish Jews,for example, “are just as entitled to return to Ireland as Catholics.”

Instructively, the ambassador repeatedly referred to self-determination – but that of the Jewish people, not Israelis. This “non-territorial definition” of self-determination “prevents the full political inclusion of non-Jews by degrading the status of (territorial) state citizenship.”

To cite the ever-helpful illustration provided by the late Tony Judt, take France. France is the state of all the French; all French persons are by definition citizens of France; and all citizens of France are…French.

Israel, however, “by its own account is the ‘state of all the Jews’ (wherever they live and whether or not they seek the association), while containing non-Jewish (Arab) citizens who do not enjoy similar status and rights.” (See my recent post, ‘Is Israel Jewish like France is French?’)

The ethnocratic boundaries of inclusion and exclusion established by Israel’s Law of Return and Citizenship Law have meant that Palestinian citizens have always been discriminated against when it comes to immigration.

Since 2003, this disparity has been drastically exacerbated, with the imposition of severe restrictions on the right of “Israeli citizens…to apply for permits for their Palestinian spouses and children from the Occupied Palestinian Territory to enter and reside in Israel for purposes of family unification.”

According to a senior European Union official, the law established “a discriminatory regime to the detriment of Palestinians in the highly sensitive area of family rights.” It was upheld in 2012 by Israel’s Supreme Court, whostated: “human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.”

In contrast to Regev’s superficial dismissal, Israeli law in fact “creates three tracks of naturalisation.” The highest track is for Jews, with a second track “for non-Jewish foreigners, who can apply for Israeli residency status through a process of individualised interviews and background checks.”

The lowest track, however, is for “Palestinian/Arab/Muslim spouses of Palestinian citizens of Israel who are prohibited from entry for the purpose of family unification.” Excluded entirely, of course, are the Palestinian refugees whose ethnic cleansing in 1947-’49 established Israel’s ‘Jewish majority’.

An illustration of the settler colonial logic shaping Israeli laws is provided by a detail from the ambassador’s own life. In 1982, Regev emigrated to Israel from Australia, spending seven years in a kibbutz that was, like so many, established using the land of expelled Palestinian refugees.

For Regev, however, Palestinians are not refugees with lands and properties, memories, and rights to return and restitution; they are a threat. Regev continued his answer at Oxford as follows.

MY PROBLEM IS THAT PALESTINIANS TODAY SAY, ‘WELL, EVEN IN PEACE, YOU HAVE TO BE THE HOMELAND FOR THEIR PEOPLE’ [SIC]. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY WANT TO DEMOGRAPHICALLY TRY TO DESTROY THE JEWISH STATE, THEY’RE SAYING THERE IS SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY ILLEGITIMATE ABOUT THE JEWISH STATE.

Regev, reflecting the dominant ideology and policies of the state he represents, sees Palestinians not as human beings with rights, but as a doomsday weapon of ‘demographic destruction’. So, ambassador, to direct your own question back to you, is that racism?

(Source / 20.05.2016)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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