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Date:         Wed, 6 Aug 2003 20:39:14 -0400
Reply-To:     FOFOGNET - Palestinian Refugee Discussion List
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Sender:       FOFOGNET - Palestinian Refugee Discussion List
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From:         Rex Brynen <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      [Jerusalem Post] Editorial: The right of citizenship
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Editorial: The right of citizenship Jerusalem Post 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 rights. 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 confer citizenship. 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 country. -------------------------------------------------------------- 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]

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