An oppressive government |

An oppressive government

Dear Editor:

Jacob Amir makes a number of false assertions in his letter praising Israel’s democracy (“Israel’s right to defend,” Jan. 29, letters to the editor, The Aspen Times). I will address one, as I am one of the “1.3 million Arab citizens” that Mr. Amir refers to as “enjoying full rights like all other citizens” of Israel.

Perhaps Mr. Amir is ignorant of the institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian/Arab citizens of Israel? Maybe he is not aware of the more than 20 Israeli laws that discriminate against us? For example, the most important immigration laws, The Law of Return (1950) and The Citizenship Law (1952), allow Jews from anywhere in the world to freely immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship, but excludes Arabs who were forced to flee their homes in 1947 and 1967. As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, I am not allowed to give my husband citizenship or even residency so that he can live with me in Israel.

The discretionary powers entrusted to various government ministries and institutions result in significant de facto discrimination between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. A report issued by the Ministry of Interior confirmed that Arab municipalities received a fraction of the total funds allocated by the national government per resident to Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories and to development towns populated exclusively by Jews.

The Israeli government has maintained an aggressive policy of land expropriation, adversely affecting Palestinian land and housing rights. For example Israel refuses to recognize a host of Arab villages, despite the fact that they existed before the establishment of the state. These “unrecognized Arab villages” receive no government services, and residents are denied the ability to build homes and other public buildings. The authorities use a combination of house demolitions, land confiscation, denial of basic services, and restrictions on infrastructure development to dislodge residents from these villages.

In Jerusalem, the authorities deny Palestinians building permits, and when desperate families build without permits, Israel demolishes their homes. Israel also considers it perfectly legal to kick Palestinian families out of their homes in the middle of the night so that Jewish families can move in.

These are only a few examples of the institutionalized discrimination that Israel practices against its Palestinian/Arab citizens. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish State” and a “State for the Jewish People.” How am I, as a Christian, supposed to be equal?

Huwaida Arraf

Mi’ilya Village

Upper Galilee

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