Richard Melson

June 2006

ACRI Israel

ACRI 2006
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
PO Box 34510
Jerusalem 91000

Tel: +972-2-652-1218
Fax: +972-2-652-1219


ACRI Online

Message from Rachel Benziman, Executive Director of ACRI

In the past months we witnessed two decisions that directly affect the status of non-Jews in Israel. The Supreme Court, with a six to five majority, opted to dismiss petitions challenging the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which prevents the naturalization in Israel of Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories who are spouses of Israeli citizens (in most cases Arab citizens of Israel). A few weeks later, the Minister of the Interior, Roni Bar-On, decided to widen the eligibility criteria for children of migrant workers, who were born or grew up in Israel, for gaining residency status in Israel. This followed a lengthy struggle conducted by ACRI and other social change organizations on behalf of these children. However, the decision was carefully worded to deny eligibility to children, who were born or raised in Israel, to Palestinians who are residents of the occupied territories, and who entered the country illegally.

The Supreme Court's decision was allegedly based on the state's security concerns, thus ignoring the "demographic" considerations, which were referred to freely by politicians. The Interior Minister's decision, hailed by liberals and human rights activists, was severely criticized by the Shas Minister of Employment, Eli Yishay, as posing a danger to the Jewish character of the state.

While being appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision and pleased by the Interior Minister’s decision, notwithstanding its limited scope, I cannot help but recognize that both of them exemplify a state policy of guarding the gates of Israel against non-Jews, and especially against Arabs who wish to become Israeli citizens. Furthermore, it is a disturbing fact that a succession of Israeli governments have used the alleged demographic threat as a means of justifying outright discrimination against the Arab minority.

This is only one form of the many examples of discrimination that ACRI regularly addresses as we face the ongoing challenge in our work to promote a just and tolerant society. Your ongoing support for our efforts is therefore critical to the wide range of population sectors that benefit from our work.

Protect Palestinian Children from Settler Violence

The following is a translation of a letter, and a related article that appeared in Haaretz on 9.4.06, that was sent to the Prime Minister by 30 artists and intellectuals, including ACRI President Sami Michael, to protest the ongoing and unchecked attacks on Palestinian children by Jewish settlers.

On 9 May 2006, over 30 authors and artists sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, which calls on him to order the IDF to provide protection for the children residing in the village of Um Tuba in the Southern Hebron Hills, from Jewish residents of the Havat Maon illegal outpost. The children walk past Maon everyday to a school in the neighboring Palestinian village, Hirbat A-Tuwani, and back again, in an area that borders the Maon settlement and Havat Maon outpost. The children suffered for a long time from attacks by settlers, which resulted in the IDF and the police committing themselves to provide on-site security personnel for them.

Click here for the full text

Hate in the Name of God

Below is a presentation that was delivered by ACRI Attorney, Avner Pinchuk at a recent high-profile academic conference in Budapest on the subject of Hate Speech.

Religious Hate Speech in the "Jewish and Democratic State" of Israel

In this paper, I would like to share with you some of the dilemmas we face concerning hate speech against the Arab minority in Israel. In particular, I wish to focus on the incitement to racism by Jewish religious leaders, most of whom are well known and influential figures in the Israeli public arena.

Freedom of expression is, of course, one of the key liberties we strive to protect. Nonetheless, on several occasions ACRI has held lengthy internal discussions in order to clarify our position on issues in which freedom of expression clashes with other basic rights so as to enable us to decide whether and how to act in cases of hate speech.

In the 1980s, for example, we witnessed outbursts of blatant racism by "Rabbi" Meir Kahane, whose style and content brought to mind the racist incitement of Europe in the 1930s. In light of this terrifying phenomenon, ACRI desisted from opposing the legal ban blocking any political party which incites racism from participating in public elections.

Click here for the full presentation
ACRI also:

a shadow report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which provided the committee with additional information regarding Israel’s implementation of its provisions.
Click here for the full report.

Produced a human rights electoral reform that was widely distributed to contending political
parties during the recent Israeli general elections.
Click here for the full text.

Continued to fight, through both litigation and public outreach intiatives, the decision by the court to uphold the racist Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.
Click here or here for more information

ACRI Online

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel

Issue No. 4 June 2006

Jun 27, 2006