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July 17, 2016 8:12 pm

New Report Refutes NGO’s List of Israeli Laws That ‘Discriminate’ Against Arab Citizens; Accuses Group of Delegitimizing Jewish State to Negate Its Existence

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Institute for Zionist Strategies. Photo: Facebook.

Institute for Zionist Strategies. Photo: Facebook.

A key method of the BDS movement is to delegitimize Israel by portraying it as an apartheid state, which discriminates against its Arab citizens through its legal system, the project manager of an Israeli think tank told The Algemeiner on Sunday.

Adi Arbel from the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS) was explaining the impetus behind his research organization’s newly released report refuting a list of more than 100 “discriminatory laws,” compiled by the Israeli NGO, Adalah-the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and posted on its website.

The 62-page Hebrew report, titled “Adalah vs. the State of Israel,” did not take ideological issue with the NGO, said Arbel. “One can argue about the validity or wisdom of all kinds of laws in Israel,” he told The Algemeiner. “But twisting what they actually contain for political purposes is inexcusable, as it presents a warped picture of the Jewish state, which is then used by its enemies to demonize it.”

Two examples cited in the report are the Law and Administration Ordinance, which defines the country’s official days of rest, and the Law for Using the Hebrew Date, both of which are included in Adalah’s list. According to IZS, both “explicitly exclude institutions and authorities that serve non-Jewish populations for whom the law provides for definitions and procedures appropriate for their specific needs.”

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Another example is the Israeli flag, which Adalah claims is a discriminatory symbol, due to its depiction of a Jewish Star of David. IZS says that, applied elsewhere, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. “This reasoning would mean that any country, the flag of which bears a cross or crescent discriminates against its non-Christian or non-Muslim minorities,” it wrote.

The report also highlights “a number of legislative amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and the Prisons Ordinance aimed at assisting the security forces in preventing terror attacks,” which “adversely affect only those clearly suspected of engaging in terror activity without distinguishing between Jews and Arabs.”

According to IZS, these amendments are bemoaned by Adalah as discriminatory against Arabs. Yet, IZS wrote, such an attitude is itself “woefully discriminatory because it presumes that Arab citizens of Israel are generally hostile and prone to terror activities.”

Another “absurdity in Adalah’s approach,” the report states, can be seen in its designation of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which evolved from British Mandatory law, as discriminatory to Israeli Arabs, because – as it claims — “the countries declared as such (Iran, Syria and Lebanon) are Arab and/or Muslim states.”

Adalah considers Israeli criminal law to be discriminatory against Arabs, as well, wrote IZS. “According to [its] logic, [I]f members of the Arab sector of the population are the main criminal violators of a certain law, then that particular law perforce is deemed racist. This could apply to laws against theft of property, against sex crimes or against driving through red lights.”

IZS summarized its report, in part, as follows:

All nation states promote their respective identities while the democratic nation states, such as Israel, also preserve the civil and human rights of all citizens, including its minorities. The report demonstrates how Adalah promotes patently false claims and manipulates its presentation of facts, from incorrect quotations to biased interpretation.

A comparison to western countries, mainly to those in Europe and to the U.S.A, revealed that contrary to Adalah’s claim, Israel’s laws conform to advanced western standards.

Adalah’s claims that the State of Israel is a country that systematically discriminates against minority citizens is baseless and made in bad faith. A fair analysis leads to the conclusion that in many respects, Israel is more protective of minority rights than a large number of western countries. Moreover, an in-depth examination of Adalah’s “discriminatory” laws in the context of internationally accepted practices leads to the important conclusion that not every preference constitutes discrimination. Indeed, most of the laws cited in Adalah’s database do not discriminate against Israeli Arabs at all but rather, assist in promoting Israel as a more Jewish and democratic country actively striving for the welfare of all its citizens.

Adalah’s claims are trumpeted by members of the BDS movement seeking to promote boycotts, divestment and the imposition of sanctions on the State of Israel (and not just the settlements in Judea and Samaria) with the clear objective of undermining and even negating its existence as the nation state of the Jewish people.

According to a profile of Adalah created by NGO Monitor — an Israel-based research organization that produces and distributes reports on international and local NGO networks and documents distortions of human rights and international law in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict — “…Adalah received NIS 12,719,902 from foreign governmental bodies between the years 2012-2015.”

Adalah (“justice” in Arabic) defines itself as “an independent human rights organization and legal center, established in November 1996. Its self-described mission is “to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, 1.2 million people, or 20% of the population, as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)… [It] seeks to achieve equal individual and collective rights for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and to defend against gross human rights violations against Palestinian residents of the OPT.”

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