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Israels nationalsnot its citizensare its privileged ones

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By Dr Firoz Osman

(source: Star Newspaper, Friday, 9/09/2011, Pg18)

The response by the Israeli embassy, as quoted by Don Krausz, deftly cloaks Israel’s Apartheid character by blurring the difference between what constitutes an Israeli citizen, and an Israeli national. (The Star, 06/09/11).

It is true that Israeli citizens (if you accept Israel as a Jewish state), including Palestinians, have the right to vote in elections for members of the Knesset (parliament) and for the prime minister. But not all rights are citizenship rights. Other rights are defined as nationality rights, and are reserved for Jews only. If you are a Jew, you have exclusive use of land, privileged access to private and public employment, special educational loans, home mortgages, preferences for admission to universities, and many other things.

Many other special privileges are reserved for those who have served in the Israeli military. And military service is compulsory for all Jews (male and female), except for the ultra-Orthodox who get the same privileges as other Jews, but excludes Palestinians, who do not.

Over 80 per cent of the land within Israel that was once owned by Palestinians has been confiscated. All told, 93 per cent of Israel’s land can only be leased or owned by Jews or Jewish agencies.

Moreover, despite Israel’s booming economy, Palestinian unemployment is skyrocketing–Adalah says it is about 40 per cent. In 1996 twice as many Arab citizens (28.3 per cent) as Jewish citizens (14.4 per cent) lived below the poverty line. Less than five per cent of government employees are Arab. And eighty per cent of all student drop- outs are Arab. There are also vast disparities between Arab towns and Jewish towns in government spending on schools, medical systems, roads and electricity, clean water, and social services.

Unlike any other country in the world, Israel does not define itself as a state of its residents, or even a state of its citizens, but as a state of all the Jews in the world.

Jews from anywhere in the world like Don Krausz can travel to Israel, declare citizenship, and be granted all the privileges of being Jewish that are denied to Palestinians who have lived in the area for hundreds of years. The hysterical reaction of the pro-Israeli lobby in South Africa to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is reflective of the fear that it will determine, by the respected luminaries throughout the world, on South African soil, that Israel is indeed the last outpost of Apartheid in the world.