A report by NGO Monitor, exclusively provided to The Jerusalem Post, argues that Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, inaccurately lists laws in its “Discriminatory Laws” database in an effort to vilify Israel.
“Adalah’s legal database promotes the false and demonizing allegation that Zionism is racism, and labels all references to the Jewish connection to Israel, including use of the Hebrew calendar or menorah symbol, as racist,” Bar- Ilan University Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head of the Jerusalem- based NGO Monitor, told the Post on Tuesday.
“Adalah also strips away the comparative context, treating Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people as if it were unique among democratic societies,” said Steinberg.
“Furthermore, almost half of these so-called ‘racist laws’ are actually fringe legislative proposals that were not approved by the Knesset,” he said. “Misleading readers by presenting draft proposals as approved legislation is not only dishonest but also totally distorts Israel’s vibrant democratic process.”
The report, titled “Adalah’s Database of Laws: Imagining Racism to Demonize Israel,” takes aim at the database, launched in March 2013 on the Adalah’s website and promoted by it on Facebook with the more provocative name “Racist Laws.”
The report notes that the database is a list of 101 laws and proposed legislation that never became law, which Adalah considers to “discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures. Some of the laws also violate the rights of Palestinians living in the 1967 OPT [‘Occupied Palestinian Territories”] and [of] Palestinian refugees.”
NGO Monitor said one of the reasons it analyzed the database is that it spreads false information that has been used by various pro-Palestinian activists and cited in leading publications such as The New York Times.
“Adalah does not define its selection methodology or describe systematically how each law is considered discriminatory,” stated the report.
“In addition, although the database is in English, Adalah does not provide English translations of the laws. Instead it offers descriptions that are occasionally inaccurate or misquote the law.”
In addition, Adalah “ignores the language in some laws that specifically promotes or protects ethnic minority groups in Israel.”
The database often uses the word “Zionist” with no explanation as to why it is associated with racism or discrimination.
“For the World Zionist Organization- Jewish Agency (Status) Law (1952), which gives quasi-governmental status to the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, Adalah comments that the law ‘further advance[s] the goals of the Zionist movement,” NGO Monitor said.
The report notes that Adalah’s director, Hassan Jabareen, and other officials were actively involved in the NGO Forum of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism that took place in Durban, South Africa, (Durban I) which sought the “demonization and delegitimization of Israel as racist.”
In one example found in the report, is that laws referring to the annexation of Jerusalem and the extension of Israeli law to the Golan Heights “are labeled as discriminatory with no explanation. Israeli Arabs, Druse and other minority groups are afforded equal rights in these regions.”
In another example, NGO Monitor cites the listing of The Use of Hebrew Date Law (1998), which says that state institutions and centers of higher education must use the Hebrew calendar in all publications and correspondence in the Hebrew language.
“This law is in no way discriminatory and, in fact, contains language respective to the needs of minority groups in Israel, which Adalah does not mention,” NGO Monitor said. “The law specifically does not apply in areas where the majority of the residents are not Jewish, or if the language of instruction of an accredited institution of higher education is not Hebrew.”
In response to the report, Adalah sent the Post a statement: “Unfortunately, Adalah does not have to ‘imagine’ racism and discrimination in Israel: Palestinian citizens of the state face it every day in all fields.
They are constantly reminded of their second-class citizenship status, and with the Netanyahu-Liberman governments from 2009 onwards, Israeli discriminatory policies and practices increasingly became enshrined in law.
“NGO Monitor’s report about Adalah’s Discriminatory Laws database contains a myriad of inaccuracies, false statements and inflammatory, irrelevant remarks. For example, the number 101 is ‘imagined’ by NGO Monitor: Adalah clearly states that ‘there are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate,’ and that the database also collects ‘pending legislation,’ which is not law.”
Adalah goes on to cite examples that it sees as discriminatory such as “The Admissions’ Committees’ Law, The Nakba Law, and many extensions of The Citizenship Law, which bans family unification of Palestinians in Israel.”
Concerning funding to Adalah and “compliance with all ‘NGO Law’ requirements, notably, each year, including in 2014, Adalah has received a ‘certificate of good governance’ from the Registrar of Associations,” the Haifa-based organization said.