Am on my way to a meeting and am already late. I apologize. This is as far as I got today—but there is interesting stuff in it, beginning with more Israeli demographic criteria, even in the Supreme Court, and new EU policy, perhaps. Would have liked to comment, but . . .
See you tomorrow.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Israeli-Palestinian couples on Citizenship Law: Supreme Court guided by Israeli racism
Supreme Court ruling to uphold law banning family reunification, ending hope for a normal life for thousands of families in Israel.
By Jack Khoury
Tags: Jews and Arabs Palestinians Israel Supreme Court Knesset
Thousands of families of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have been waiting for years for a Supreme Court decision rejecting Israel’s Citizenship Law. Wednesday’s ruling to uphold the law puts an end to their hope of obtaining citizenship for their spouses and receiving permanent status in Israel.
Taysar Hatib and his wife Lana of Acre married six years ago. Up to this day Lana, originally from Nablus, has been denied an Israeli citizenship. She receives a temporary permit to live with her husband in Acre annually, but doesn’t hold the legal rights extended to permanent Israeli residents.
Taysar, who is writing his anthropology doctorate at Haifa University and is employed as a lecturer at the Western Galilee College, wasn’t surprised by the court ruling. “The decision is proof that one shouldn’t have any faith in the Israeli judicial system. It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel and the judges weren’t expected to act in any other way.”
Hatib explained that though his wife holds a permit of temporary residence, the court ruling puts an end to any hope for advancement or a normal life. “She can’t develop a career – She can’t even drive a car, though she holds a Palestinian driver’s license.”
Hatam Ataya, a lawyer from Kfar Qara, married his wife Jasmine, 12 years ago. Since the two wed, they have been trying to obtain a citizenship for Jasmine, who was born in Nablus, but have faced the repeated refusal from Israeli authorities.
Hatam heard about the court ruling from Haaretz, late on Wednesday night and had a hard time swallowing the bitter news. According to him: “If Michaeli spilled water on Majadele and people said that it wasn’t racist or offensive, then the Supreme Court spilled a large bucket of water on Israel’s Arab citizens.”
The Citizenship Law is temporary legislation that only allows reunification in Israel of Palestinians with an Israeli spouse if it involves a Palestinian husband who is at least 36 years of age or if it involves a Palestinian wife who is at least 26.
The decision to refuse to allow couples to live together in Israel was initially taken by the government in May 2002. The Knesset affirmed the policy the following year and has since extended its initial expiration date twice. The extensions came despite petitions filed in the High Court of Justice challenging the provision.
Other reports on this subject
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
State denies entry to Israeli’s Nigerian husband for being ‘just a sperm donor’
Yifat Zohar married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria and applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the naturalization process as her spouse, but the ministry refused to let him into the country.
By Talila Nesher
The Interior Ministry is refusing to let an Israeli woman’s Nigerian husband enter the country, claiming she intends to use him only as a sperm donor.
Yifat Zohar, 42, married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria about a year ago and then applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the multiyear naturalization process as her spouse. But the ministry refused to even let him into the country.
In its response to her application, the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority wrote that Zohar “asked us to consider her advanced age, because she “wants to bring at least one child [into the world] before it is too late” – a statement that attests to her true intentions in entering into marital relations” with Ayemo.
Moreover, it wrote, “for you, this is a third marriage, and the second to a foreigner, while for Mr. Goodluck, this is a second marriage.” The authority was also disturbed that “you’re the one who financed the entire cost of his flight and even bought the ring, while he promised to repay you the money once he is working in Israel,” as well as by the fact that the two initially met while Ayemo was here illegally.
Taken altogether, it concluded, Zohar did not supply enough evidence to show that “this is a genuine, honest relationship and not a move whose entire purpose is essentially a quid pro quo – for [Ayemo], obtaining status in Israel, and for [Zohar], a way to get pregnant.”
This response was approved by the ministry’s legal division.
Zohar said that she would accept the standard procedure of examining the validity of the relationship at various stages during the naturalization process. “But how is it possible to categorically deny the existence of a genuine relationship in advance?” she asked.
The authority declined to comment, saying its response to Zohar “needs no interpretation.” Her lawyer, Yadin Elam, said that if the authority doesn’t retract its decision, Zohar will fight its “ugly, chauvinistic” arguments in court.
Thursday, January 12. 2012
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Photo: AP
Europe to pursue Area C projects
Official document by EU delegates criticizes Israel’s policies in West Bank, suggests bloc must pursue ventures in Israeli-controlled area even without Israel’s cooperation
The European Union has decided to pursue a series of steps which may undermine Israel’s control of Area C in the West Bank, an official EU document obtained by Ynet on Thursday suggests.
The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas of control: Area A which is under the Palestinian Authority’s full control; Area B, which is under Palestinian civil controls and shared Israeli-Palestinian security control; and Area C, which is controlled by Israel.
Area C makes up 62% of the West Bank, but the Palestinians make up only 5.8% of its population.
The document, titled “Area C and Palestinian state building,” harshly criticizes Israel’s policies in the West Bank, claiming they have caused the Palestinian population in Area C to shrink significantly and recede into enclaves.
Investing in infrastructure (Illustration: AFP)
The document states that Europe will support road, water, infrastructure, municipal, educational and medical projects in the area, in order to “support the Palestinian people and help maintain their presence (in the area).”
The EU, the brief said, aims to:
Encourage Israel to change its policy and planning system for Area C and engage the Palestinian communities in access and developments
Reduce land and population vulnerability and facilitate better coordination of basic needs deliveries in Area C
Promote economic development in Area C
Increase visibility and accountability for the delivery of aid in Area C
The diplomats state that “The window for the two-state solution is rapidly closing… and Area C is the only contiguous area in the western Negev surrounding Area A and B. Area C compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state. State building efforts in Area C of the PA are therefore of utmost important in order to support the creation of a Palestinian state.”
The EU, a western diplomat told Ynet, is primarily concerned about three aspects overshadowing the viability of the two-state solution: Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Area C. The EU, he added, is worried that Israel’s policies in Area C will prevent the PA from maintaining territorial continuity, perpetuating the current situation of a “patch-state.”
The documents expresses the EU’s concern that the dwindling Palestinian presence in Area C is “pushing the conception of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines further away” and urges the immediate cessation of what it calls Israel’s “demolition policy” in Palestinian villages.
The document also urges Israel to support Palestinian development plans across the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The diplomats underscore throughout the brief the need for EU support of private and public sector projects and infrastructure, but make no mention of involving Israel, or obtaining its cooperation in such projects.
A Western diplomat familiar with the document told Ynet that the Europeans have decided to simply skip Israeli regulations: “What Europe is essentially saying here is that because Area C is vital for sustaining a viable Palestinian state, we will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel’s planning policy.”
He confirmed that the step was meant to reduce the amount of necessary building permits, saying that “European funding of vital projects like water infrastructure will be independent of Israeli authorities’ approval.”
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet’s Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: [email protected]
The Independent Thursday, January 12, 2012
EU on verge of abandoning hope for a viable Palestinian state
Israel’s foreign ministry denied that Israeli settlers were taking water resources from the West Bank
The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent.
The report, approved by top Brussels officials, argues that EU support, including for a wide range of building projects, is now needed to protect the rights of “ever more isolated” Palestinians in “Area C”, a sector that includes all 124 Jewish settlements – illegal in international law – and which is under direct Israeli control. It comprises 62 per cent of the West Bank, including the “most fertile and resource rich land”.
With the number of Jewish settlers now at more than double the shrinking Palestinian population in the largely rural area, the report warns bluntly that, “if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seem more remote than ever”.
The 16-page document is the EU’s starkest critique yet of how a combination of house and farm building demolitions; a prohibitive planning regime; relentless settlement expansion; the military’s separation barrier; obstacles to free movement; and denial of access to vital natural resources, including land and water, is eroding Palestinian tenure of the large tract of the West Bank on which hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state depend.
International brokers are trying to persuade both sides to reach a peaceful settlement through talks, which had stalled over the building of Israeli settlements and the Palestinians’ recent declaration of statehood at the UN.
The report points out how dramatically the settler population – now at 310,000 – of Area C has increased at the expense of Palestinian numbers – estimated at around 150,000. In 1967, there were between 200,000 and 320,000 Palestinians in just the agriculture-rich Jordan Valley part of the zone.
Area C is one of three zones allocated by the 1993 Oslo agreement. Area A includes major Palestinian cities, and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under shared Israeli-Palestinian control.
Although Area C is the least populous, the report says “the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and access restrictions for Palestinians in Area C [which] compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state”.
It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of the Israeli military.
In practice, it says Palestinian construction is permitted in just 1 per cent of Area C, “most of which is already built up”. The EU report’s short- and medium-term recommendations include calling on Israel to halt demolitions of houses and structures built without permits – of which there have been 4,800 since 2000. But there is also a call for the EU to support a building programme that includes schools, clinics, water and other infrastructure projects.
The EU should also be more vocal in raising objections to “involuntary population movements, displacements, evictions and internal migration”.
The report says Area C – along with East Jerusalem – has not benefited from the gradual reversal of the West Bank economic collapse since the beginning of the intifada in 2000 which saw growth of 9 per cent in 2010. It also claims Palestinian economic activity is mainly “low intensity” agriculture in contrast to specialised, export-directed farming by Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley “which uses most of the water resources in the area”, and that it is of “great concern” that cisterns and rainwater structures have been destroyed by the Israeli authorities since January 2010 – a claim which Israel’s foreign ministry denied.
4 Al Jazeera
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Counting the Cost News
Michael Marder is a Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country
Ultra-orthodox reflection of Israeli politics
Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox community, like the government, believes they are exempt from having to justify their behaviour.
Israeli authorities and the ultra-orthodox community share similar attitudes and tactics, the author says [GALLO/GETTY]
Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain – Since late 2011, the conflict between the secular and the ultra-religious segments of Israeli society has reached a boiling point over the issue of women’s rights.
Among the seemingly bizarre recent events, highlighting a growing societal rift, we may single out the controversy over female singing in the Israeli army, deemed to offend the sensibilities of religious soldiers; demands for gender segregation on public buses and forced removal of female passengers from their seats; harassment of an eight-year old girl on the pretext of her being “provocatively” dressed; a credit card company pulling ads that featured women’s faces from billboards in Jerusalem in response to the threat, by ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) believers, to burn buses and bus stops, where such ads were featured; a conference on fertility and Jewish law, whose organisers prevented female professionals from speaking out and offering their point of view… and the list goes on.
Critical responses to these events either explicitly state or simply assume that religious fanatics are nothing but fringe elements far outside the mainstream of the Israeli society, elements attempting to “highjack” the public sphere and “corrupt” its democratic core. One adherent of this approach is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, who, last month, called upon Israeli citizens to protest en masse against the growing influence of Haredi extremists and to reclaim their civic freedoms.
Israelis rally against gender segregation
Yet, given the overall political context, within which the concerted ultra-Orthodox onslaught is taking place, it is doubtful, to say the least, that this radicalisation is an aberration, a mere exception to the rule of peaceful coexistence. I would argue that in its belligerent, uncompromising stance on women, the conduct of the ultra-religious faction actually reflects the unadorned image of the Israeli politics and society as a whole.
The rabbis, who are intent to institute religious dictate at the level of the entire state, have had good teachers and fine examples to imitate; most recently, they have learned from the conduct of Netanyahu’s government that adopted an overtly bullying stance both toward the Palestinians and toward the international community, triggering diplomatic crisis with Turkey and, even, with the United States.
Rejection of dialogue in foreign affairs cannot help but affect the way intra-societal tensions are dealt with: in both cases, blackmail, intimidation of opponents and display of brute force become the preferred tactics at the expense of the political process par excellence.
Just as the Israeli government refuses to consider Palestinian representatives as partners in a dialogue and, instead, continues to dictate the rules of the game through military occupation, so religious leaders do not regard members of the secular civil society as worthy of engagement and moral consideration. At best, this attitude spells out absolute disrespect for the rights of others; at worst, its cost is measured in the loss of human lives.
What is the common denominator, underlying the imperviousness of Israeli political and religious leaders to a meaningful discussion?
In the first place, it is the fervent and unshakeable belief, characteristic of all fanatics, in the possession of the ultimate truth. Haredim can dispense with public debate because, from their perspective, the truth they hold is absolute, grounded as it is in the word of God. Anyone who disobeys divinely mandated Law is, according to them, subject to severe punishment, which does not preclude elaborate curses or death sentences.
The current extremist government can do away with political dialogue for a very similar reason, namely, that its idea of the state is based on certain eternal, unquestionable truths – enshrined in the doctrines of Zionism – forever closed for discussion. Such political metaphysics is a powerful tool for the creation of social consensus, as much as a justification for dealing harsh punishments to its opponents, including the shootings and killings of protesters in the occupied Palestinian territories.
A “holier than thou” attitude prevails both in the Israeli political mindset and in the religious imaginary of ultra-Orthodox Jews. While, in the first case, it makes earnest diplomacy all but impossible, in the second case, this attitude threatens the very possibility of a coherent civil society. The drama of the present situation, however, is that, despite their symbiotic arrangement, the two “eternal truths” logically negate one another.
The politics of the right-wing government depends, at once, on the identification of the external enemy, with whom there is nothing to discuss, and the consolidation of the heterogeneous population within the state against this foe. Religious extremism, conversely, creates a set of tears in the socio-political fabric, thereby endangering the project of the Israeli “hawks”.
The Orthodox community, like the Israeli government, believes it possesses the ‘ultimate truth’ which exempts them from having to explain or justify their behaviour, beliefs or actions [GALLO/GETTY]
Perhaps, the contradiction lies in the self-definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”, and all signs point at the fact that time has come for it to make a choice between these two adjectives. For the country’s political leaders, this description means that only Jews can benefit from the advantages of democracy, often at the expense of non-Jewish minorities. But, from the vantage point of the ultra-Orthodox, secular Jews are not Jewish enough and, therefore, should be treated the way the political establishment treats Palestinians, which is to say, with disdain, dictating the conditions of their existence.
Regardless of these frictions, the overlaps between the current political doctrine and religious extremism in Israel are remarkable. Most blatantly, both resort to the tactic of inversion, portraying aggressors as victims and victims as aggressors.
Political authorities use the historical victimisation of European Jews as the ultimate argument for the continued occupation of an entire nation, while dismissing any criticism as an expression of anti-Semitism. December 31 protests in Jerusalem saw ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing prison uniforms and yellow Stars of David in a clear reference to the Nazi concentration camps. It is the height of cynicism (not to mention Nietzschean ressentiment) to don the appearance of a sufferer after harassing and insulting non-religious girls and women for the way they dress and choose their seats on a public bus.
Faced with the onslaught of a rapidly growing and belligerent religious minority, the Israeli authorities are forced to see, as though in a mirror, a faithful reflection of their own conduct. The attitudes and the tactics of the two groups are almost identical. Contempt toward others and the ensuing unwillingness to engage in dialogue; belief in eternal truths and self-righteousness; pretence of victimhood as a cover for aggression – all these are the refracted images of Israeli politics on the contemporary ultra-Orthodox scene.
Before decrying the extremism of religious zealots, Israeli politicians should take a closer look at themselves in the mirror this “small minority” (to cite Peres) holds before them. The mirror suspended from the Wall they call “Segregation Fence”.
Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz. He is the author of The Event of the Thing: Derrida’s Post-Deconstructive Realism (2009), Groundless Existence: The Political Ontology of Carl Schmitt (2010) and numerous articles in phenomenology, political philosophy, and environmental thought. Most recently, he co-edited, with Patricia Vieira, the collection Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought (2011). His website is michaelmarder.org.
5 LA Times
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Palestinian leaders outraged over West Bank construction data
A report released by Israel’s Peace Now group also says building last year on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.
A Palestinian works at a a housing complex construction site in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish development on land Israel seized after the 1967 war. (Jim Hollander, European Pressphoto Agency / January 11, 2012)
By Maher Abukhater, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank— Palestinian leaders voiced outrage Tuesday over a new report that Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank rose 20% last year. The report released by the Peace Now group also says that building on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.
The study by the Israeli group, which is opposed to settlement construction, found that Israel began construction on more than 1,850 West Bank units in 2011, up from 1,550 in 2010. During much of 2010, Israel observed a partial moratorium on new West Bank construction, which reduced building starts that year.
The data on new construction angered Palestinian leaders, who blame Israel’s settlement policy for stalled peace talks.
“It should send alarm bells to the world that Israel is killing any chance for the two-state solution,” Palestinian Authority government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.
The housing expansion was most dramatic in East Jerusalem, where plans for 3,690 units were approved and plans for an additional 2,660 units were unveiled, Peace Now said.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is promoting several plans precisely in disputed areas which could prevent the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” the report says.
Israeli officials defended the settlement policy, saying their self-imposed 10-month moratorium on new construction in 2010 failed to bring Palestinians back to the negotiating table as expected. Israel is also saddled with a housing shortage.
Palestinians have boycotted formal peace talks until Israel halts all settlement construction, but both sides resumed low-level meetings in Jordan in recent days in an effort to revive negotiations.
Palestinian officials said Tuesday that the preliminary talks have not yielded any breakthroughs.
Abukhater is a special correspondent.
6 Today in Palestine
January 11, 2012