The publisher of Ha’aretz, Amos Schocken, has a piece today under the headline “Citizenship law makes Israel an apartheid state”:
The law stipulates that the interior minister does not have the authority to approve residence in Israel for a resident of Judea and Samaria (unless, of course, they are Jews – that is, settlers). This is so even regarding family reunions, meaning marriage, when it comes to Palestinian spouses who are younger than 35 (for men) or 25 (for women). In effect, the law prevents young Israeli citizens from marrying the spouse of their choice and living with this spouse in Israel, if the spouse is a Palestinian from Judea and Samaria.
It is obvious that this has barely any effect on the right of young Israeli Jews to live in their country with the spouse of their choice, because there are hardly any marriages between Israeli Jews and Palestinians from Judea and Samaria. On the other hand, these Palestinians constitute Israeli Arabs’ natural pool for choosing a spouse. For this reason, the law severely discriminates when comparing the rights of young Israeli Jewish citizens and young Israeli Arab citizens.
When the law was first passed in 2003, supposedly as a temporary one-year measure, it was accompanied by security reasoning – the risk of implanting terrorists in Israel via marriage. The reasoning was faulty even at that time: Every Palestinian who wishes to enter Israel must be addressed individually. It is the Shin Bet security service’s task to do this and thus carry out its mission – protecting the security of Israel’s citizens such that the country remains democratic, with equal rights for all. However, as the years go by, it becomes clear that the security argument and the term “temporary measure” are merely a deception aimed at “koshering” discriminatory legislation for demographic reasons.
The claim that there are indications of an apartheid state in Israel is widely heard in the Western world. The word apartheid is catchy and understood in many parts of the world, which makes it useful to send a message that we resent and which we claim has no connection with reality in Israel. However, we do not have to identify the characteristics of South African apartheid in the civil rights discrimination in Israel in order to call Israel an apartheid state. The amendment to the Citizenship Law is exactly the kind of practice that leads to the use of such a term, and it is best that we not try to evade the truth: Its existence in the law books turns Israel into an apartheid state.