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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 Service

Video of the Week: Recent Israel History Miko Peled

Transcription made from The Miko's Speeches




This is a beautiful church so once again thank you to the pastor for allowing us to use this is really beautiful and thank you all for being here tonight and and for caring enough to take the time and listen and participate and be active I always begin my remarks with a disclaimer and that disclaimer is this if anybody here came hoping to hear a balanced presentation then they're going to be sorely disappointed I say this because a lot of things that you're about to hear tonight are difficult to hear and also because I don't believe that a balanced presentation on this topic is possible anybody that cares enough to speak about this probably has a very strong opinion one way or the other almost everybody has feelings and strong emotions on this issue one way or the other for me it's deeply personal and the issue itself is not a balanced issue there is no balance in this issue so therefore I say this because there cannot be a balanced presentation on this and I think if anybody claims that their presentation is balanced they're either misleading themselves or the misleading of their audience this whole issue of Israel and Palestine is covered in so much myth and there's so much there's so much double standard when people talk about this issue and I'll give you two examples

Don't know if you heard Bibi Netanyahu speech at the United Nations I heard it not live but after he actually delivered it and he began and he began it with probably the two most striking examples of myth and double standard and he began by talking about the right of return of the Jews to their ancient homeland and of course the Jews that returned so-called returned to their homeland were not exactly the the same Jews who were expelled from their homeland right because these were expelled a couple of thousand years before that these were not their descendants either because they this is business has been a very long time so these are people the people that actually came back so to speak are people that claim some kind of a heritage some kind of a connection a relationship to the ancient Hebrews and they claimed that they had the right to return to their homeland and this was this is what Zionism was about and this is expected this was you know accepted by the world as the right they had the right to return now if we talk about the right of return of one nation you'd expect that there would be if we accept it as a principle than

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