Date:Wed, 6 Aug 2003 20:39:14 -0400
Reply-To:FOFOGNET - Palestinian Refugee Discussion List
<[log in to unmask]>
Sender:FOFOGNET - Palestinian Refugee Discussion List
<[log in to unmask]>
From:Rex Brynen <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:[Jerusalem Post] Editorial: The right of citizenship
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
Editorial: The right of citizenship
Aug. 7, 2003
The Oslo process is nearly 10 years old. One of its least-publicized
provisions allows family reunions for Arabs inside Israel.
On the face of it, the provision is uncontroversial and humanitarian.
Perhaps this is why it attracted so little attention and was so easily
overshadowed by more immediate concerns.
Yet this provision in effect partially implemented via the back door
what the Palestinians dub "the right of return." In its wake, mixed
marriages abounded of Palestinian Arabs with Israeli Arabs. The
presumption was that the Palestinian spouse would be automatically
eligible for Israeli citizenship and that this citizenship would be
denied in only very extreme cases.
Last week the Knesset changed the law, or more accurately, the
presumption inherent therein. From now on the presumption is no longer
that Israeli citizenship is automatically granted to Palestinian Arabs
who marry Israelis. They can still be eligible for Israeli citizenship.
However, it will be granted only in special cases in which the minister
of the interior is convinced that the Palestinian applicant identifies
with the state and that he or his kin contributed to the security of
the state and had cooperated in the past with Israeli authorities. The
legislation was adopted as a temporary security measure for one year.
As expected, this reversal of presumption drew heavy fire from the
Israeli Left and Israeli Arab factions. Not surprisingly, it has
already been appealed to the Supreme Court. What is surprising is the
alacrity with which the international community harped on a legislative
move by an embattled democracy. The rush to condemn was especially
marked in the case of the European Union, which lodged an official
protest and is now threatening to reconsider the upgrading of relations
with Israel on the grounds that Israel possibly violates basic human
The American reaction had been a touch more cautious. The State
Department spokesman promised to study the new legislation before
deciding whether it constitutes racial discrimination. All critics
conveniently prefer not to focus upon the increasing involvement in
major terrorist outrages of Arabs who possess Israeli citizenship.
Beneficiaries of Israel's family reunion largesse are especially
numerous and prominent in this category. They can move unhindered
anywhere, a fact which greatly facilitates the mass murder of Israelis.
For countries far less imperiled than Israel to, in effect, urge Israel
to expose its citizens to dangers which they themselves would never
tolerate is unconscionable. Neither America nor EU members allow free,
uncontrolled migration across their frontiers. Nor would any of them
countenance the inflow of an ethnic population engaged in bitter
hostilities with the destination country whose citizenship it desires.
In the aftermath of 9/11, American criteria for entry became so
stringent that even innocent tourists encounter difficulties obtaining
visas. Europe, which preaches open frontiers, practices otherwise.
The case of Israeli Meir Fuchs came to light recently. Thirteen years
ago he married a Danish woman. They lived here, where their two
children were born. Recently the couple decided to move to Denmark.
Despite his marriage to a Dane, Fuchs was denied a resident's visa on
the grounds that the family's life was Israel-centered and that he
would be depriving a Dane of employment. The only way he could stay in
Denmark was to labor on a remote hog farm.
So much for the human rights of a married couple. Denmark, it should be
stressed, isn't under attack by Israelis nor do Israelis threaten to
overrun it. Israel, on the other hand, is under attack by Palestinians,
who do threaten to overrun it.
Since the Oslo Accords, over 200,000 Palestinians have entered Israel
under the family reunion arrangements. For Israel, with only, 6 million
citizens, a million of them Arabs, this is not a trivial number.
Palestinians and their supporters can't have it both ways. They can't
demand a Palestinian state, while seeking to create an Arab plurality
within the Jewish state as well.
Our position is that families can very well be united outside the Green
Line and without benefit of Israeli citizenship. It's disingenuous for
Palestinians, so eager to separate themselves from Israel, to so
ardently covet Israeli citizenship.
Those who wish to tie the knot with partners not entitled to reside in
their home country must consider relocation. This is the case elsewhere
in the world, and, like other countries, Israel is fully entitled to
regulate whom it will admit to its jurisdiction and on whom it will
The issue of Israeli citizenship is something only Israel will decide.
It is no one else's business plain and simple. It's not something any
other nation has the right to interfere with or pontificate about.
Each and every sovereign state draws up its own citizenship criteria.
Israeli sovereignty isn't inferior to that of any other country and
should be accorded the same minimal respect as that of any other
The FOFOGNET email list on Palestinian refugees is a
project of the Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle East
Studies (Montreal). Copyright for all materials on this list remains
with the original copyright holder.
To post material to the list: [log in to unmask] Please DO NOT
send file attachments to the list.
To unsubscribe: send a SIGNOFF FOFOGNET message to
[log in to unmask]
List queries: Contact Rex Brynen at [log in to unmask]