“These people have gone too far…”
MK Nissan Slomiansky, February 10, 2016
Many Palestinian citizens of Israel “take their rights too far.”
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin, May 13, 2008
On February 2, Members of Knesset met with the families of Palestinian assailants whose bodies are being withheld by Israel authorities. The visit by Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas, and Jamal Zahalka, all from Balad and part of the Joint List, was part of “a campaign being conducted by the families and legal aid and human rights groups seeking the return of the bodies of their family members.” Read more
Israel’s Supreme Court has long been held up as a resolute defender of liberal values. Recent decisions handed down by its judges, however, provide an important opportunity to revisit this claim, and to interrogate its past and present validity.
According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme Court “upholds the rule of law and strengthens human rights.” (A note on terminology. Israel’s Supreme Court also sits as the High Court of Justice (HCJ) for constitutional matters and citizens’ petitions against government entities.)
This narrative is often reproduced by Israel’s defenders. In March 2012, for example, Time magazine’s Joe Klein hailed the Court as “one of the world’s great bastions of civilized legal contemplation” and “a precious monument to the rule of law.” Read more
Earlier this month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that any nuclear agreement reached between the P5+1 group and Tehran must include “unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist”.
President Barack Obama repudiated such a demand as “a fundamental misjudgement”, but that did not dissuade Israel’s allies on Capitol Hill from backing Mr Netanyahu.
There are parallels here with Mr Netanyahu’s insistence that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a “Jewish state” in any potential peace deal.
This demand to recognise Israel’s “right to exist” is much more, however, than a negotiations spoiler: it is intended to police the boundaries of acceptable debate, to conceal certain parts of the past and present – and to narrow the options open to Palestinians and Israeli Jews for the future. Read more
Given the insistence by its leaders that Israel be “recognised” as a Jewish state, some people might be surprised to know that there is considerable disagreement among Jewish Israelis about exactly what that means.
Enter the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, who in addition to her key role in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority seems set on making a contribution to one of the most contentious issues in Israeli politics: the state’s Jewish identity. Read more
The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) is one of the key Israel advocacy groups in the UK. In the last week BICOM has published a series of essays on ‘Israel’s democratic futures’ (if that’s a question, the answer is ‘here’s hoping’). BICOM’s worry, as its chief Lorna Fitzsimons wrote in her introduction, is that “a notion is spreading in the West that Israel is fast becoming an illiberal ethno-democracy”. Read more