The discriminatory laws that do not discriminate

Adalah calls itself “an independent human rights organization,” and thus its statements enjoy some of the halo effect attached to this self-anointed status.

JUST A mirage of equality? The author asks whether demands for equality in Israel are a hidden way to reduce Jewish rights to a state (photo credit: REUTERS)
JUST A mirage of equality? The author asks whether demands for equality in Israel are a hidden way to reduce Jewish rights to a state
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On Thursday, the Movement for Black Lives announced it would engage in BDS actions against Israel because, among other reasons, “Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people.” It credits Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, as one of its “organizations currently working on policy.” The movement is an offshoot of the American organization Black Lives Matter.
Adalah calls itself “an independent human rights organization,” and thus its statements enjoy some of the halo effect attached to this self-anointed status.
But Adalah has goals far beyond human rights. It seeks to nullify Israel as a Jewish state – as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Thus it promotes a constitution for Israel that would grant citizenship to all Palestinian refugees and all their descendants, wiping out the Jewish majority in Israel, and its provisions substitute a bi-national state for the Jewish one, with no “right of return for Jews” and with mechanisms to eliminate all Jewish symbols.
One of its most effective tools to delegitimize the Jewish state is the compilation and dissemination of its list of “more than 50 Israeli laws enacted since 1948 that directly or indirectly discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.” This is the list that the Movement for Black Lives found so compelling that they embraced the BDS goals to work against Israel, which they call the “apartheid state.”
What are the laws on this nefarious list and how do they discriminate? This is what the Institute for Zionist strategies set out to determine, and it recently completed a comprehensive analysis of every one of these laws. The study examines the text of the laws, their purposes, how they have been implemented, and how they compare to similar laws in other democracies.
The full report (Hebrew) and the English Introduction and Summary can be found on the IZS website and Facebook page. Here is what it found.
A basic underlying presumption used to condemn 21 of the 57 laws, is that any enactment defining or promoting Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people discriminates against Arab citizens of Israel (e.g., the flag law and the law to support Yad Ben Zvi, a prominent institution promoting Zionist study and values). But this flawed premise would delegitimize the vast majority of the world’s democracies, which are also nation states – that is, states established by and for a predominant ethnic or religious majority. As I pointed out in a Wall Street Journal article explaining the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, “Most of the more than 60 democracies are built on the ethnic identity of a predominant group, which molds the character of the state while affording minorities full civil and religious rights. In this regard the Jewish state of Israel is a typical democratic country.”
But Adalah goes far beyond this flawed proposition. For example, it lists as one of its 57 discriminatory laws the Trading with the Enemy Act (an Ordinance continued from British Mandatory law designed to fight Nazi Germany).
This law prohibits trade with “enemy nationals.” It is discriminatory against Arab citizens, Adalah claims, because “Thus far, all “enemy states’ all of are Arab and/ or Muslim states” [sic]. Israel could presumably cure this “discrimination” either by allowing free and untrammeled intercourse with Syria and Iran or by adding Great Britain, France and Switzerland to its list of enemies.
Adalah claims that laws designed to protect citizens against terrorism are discriminatory because the predominant majority of terrorists are Arabs. What democratic country would repeal laws defending against terrorist attacks because the suspected terrorists caught and charged were predominantly Muslims or Arabs? Laws that provide equal rights for both majority and minority groups are nevertheless labeled discriminatory by Adalah. The Law and Administration Ordinance (1948) that defines the country’s official rest days, and the Law for Using the Hebrew Date, both explicitly exclude institutions and authorities that serve non-Jewish populations.
All members of minorities are guaranteed a day of rest on the day specified by his/her recognized religious faith or on Saturday, at the employee’s option. Apparently, Israeli law on Saturday is discriminatory, but not Moslem and Arab countries with Friday or Christian countries with Sunday (most of which do not protect minorities’ day of rest). But one thing is for sure, no Jew is discriminated on his day of rest in most of the Arab countries, because the Jews were kicked out in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Adalah outdoes itself by including the Golan Heights Law on its list.
The Golan Heights were captured in the 1967 war started by Syria and Egypt. The law in question grants citizenship and equal rights to all inhabitants of the Golan Heights.
The only minority residents living there are Druze, and the law prohibits any and all discrimination.
This law granting equality to all residents is denounced as discriminatory against Palestinian Arabs, none of whom live or work there.
Every single one of the 57 laws listed by Adalah list is proven by the Institute for Zionist Strategies study to be non-discriminatory. Anyone can read the laws and the Institute’s conclusions on the IZS site to verify this fact for him/herself. One can also visit the Adalah site, for many of its claims are absurd on their face.
Adalah, of course needs money to compile this list, to draft constitutions, to build attractive Internet sites in three languages, and to appear all over the world before international organizations to condemn Israel. On paper, it would seem like a perfect candidate for funds from the EU, European states (and EU-funded NGOs), and the New Israel Fund.
And so it is. As reported by NGO Monitor, Adalah received generous funding from: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Bread for the World- EED (Germany), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Switzerland), Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), European Union, UNDP, and others. From 2012 to 2015, Adalah received direct funding from foreign governmental bodies of NIS 12,719,902. From 2008 to 2014, the New Israel Fund, which tells its donors that it will not support BDS efforts and that it will support Israel, authorized grants for Adalah in the amount of $1,874,656.
And this funding continued into 2015.
The Movement for Black Lives credits Adalah for its general help and clearly justifies its resolve to engage in BDS activities by invoking Adalah’s list of “discriminatory laws.” The Movement, which declared that the US “is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,” does not seem very interested in seeking or speaking truth. Its reliance on Adalah’s list is therefore not surprising – no matter how reckless. But Adalah is not a new group, it is generously endowed, and it surely knows that the 57 “discriminatory laws” on its list do not discriminate.
The writer is an attorney in Israel and the US. He is the Founding President of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.