“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or
possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other
way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except
by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
800 years ago in the Magna Carta, this is one of foundations of English common
law and the US Bill of Rights. Prohibiting arbitrary arrest and punishment is a
fundamental aspect of every democracy.
Israel, however, seems to be an
exception. The expulsion of Boaz Albert and his family from Yitzhar is a good
He was never told of what crime he was accused, or why he was
being expelled; there was no trial.
Since the expulsion was ordered by
the military administration, an appeal to those who gave and approved the order
is an exercise in futility. Although the High Court has ruled that the Basic Law
applies to every citizen, regardless of where he lives, it offers no remedy,
since the order is legal according to Israeli law.
A legal absurdity, it
recalls Franz Kafka’s novel, The Trial, about a man who is arrested and
imprisoned, with the nature of his crime never being revealed to him, or to the
Albert’s case seems to be punishment without a
(Albert wrote “Why I decided to violate the administrative
expulsion order,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, September 13, 2013.) Expelling Jewish
citizens and heads of families from their homes and prohibiting them from living
in Judea and Samaria for up to a year, or be imprisoned – without just cause or
due process – violates civil and humanitarian law. Such politically motivated
actions defy all democratic and judicial norms.
Since the reason for
Albert’s expulsion is “confidential,” there is no way he can refute it, or
defend himself in court.
This seems to violate Israel’s Basic Law,
especially section 5: “There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the
liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or
If there is evidence of criminal activity, the accused should
be arrested and tried.
Expelling people from their homes and avoiding
normal legal procedures either because evidence is weak, or non-existent
challenges the entire legal system.
Israel’s violation of basic civil
rights stems from “emergency laws” enacted during the British
But “emergency laws” are unnecessary when proper civil laws are
Although the Edmund Levy commission proposed a remedy,
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein refuses to pass it on to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu – who hasn’t objected.
Depriving citizens of their
rights and punishing them without charging them in court, without the ability to
confront the accusations against them, without a fair and impartial trial, and
without a chance to defend themselves, is undemocratic and unjust.
is why Albert refuses to accept the expulsion order. His courageous act of civil
disobedience seeks to expose a legal injustice.
problem is complicated because “Area C” of Judea and Samaria is under Israeli
military administration and Israel has not extended civilian law over this area.
Yet, all other Israeli laws are enforced there, such as taxes, traffic
violations, national service, etc. Why are expulsions an exception? That some
Basic Laws don’t apply to Israelis who are accused of being a “danger to public
safety” – without demonstrative proof – because they live in Judea and Samaria
undermines the very idea of fair and impartial rule of law.
punishments which are questionable and certainly legally compromising puts the
credibility of the state itself at risk. When the state abuses its power, it
becomes a weapon against its own legitimacy.
In 1948 we overcame British
occupation; in 1967 we liberated Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem from Jordanian
occupation and Golan from Syria. But we are still chained to their anti-Jewish
and anti-Zionist laws. Does that make sense?
The author is a PhD historian,
writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!