Monday, November 20, 2017

Love in the time of Apartheid

Juicebox Gallery

By Jessica Purkiss - March 11, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [In Pictures]
Tags: [Israeli Citizenship Law] [family reunification] [Apartheid] [Hizma checkpoint] [wedding]

Photos #1-11 by Lazar Simeonov. Photo #12 by John Space.

On March 9, the Israeli army prevented a symbolic wedding from taking place near Hizma checkpoint, a checkpoint separating Ramallah from Jerusalem.

The groom from the West Bank attempted to make his way to the checkpoint to meet his bride, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who was arriving from Nazareth, in the north of what is now called Israel. 

The ceremony was organised by the “Love in the time of Apartheid” campaign.  The campaign aims to expose an Israeli law that infringes on the right to Palestinian family reunification. 

“This wedding was organized by Palestinians from '48 and '67 [territories] under the campaign of “Love in the time of Apartheid” to protest against the Israeli law which prevents the reunification of families if one partner holds Israeli citizenship and the other holds a Palestinian ID,” said one activist taking part in the ceremony. 

The initiative makes a stand against the “Citizenship and Entry into Israel law” which prohibits the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship and residency to nationals of certain Arab countries.

Protestors held up placards with slogans such as “In sickness and in health, till Israel do us part,” written on them to the line of soldiers blocking their access to the checkpoint

This law practically translates into spouses and families from the West Bank and Gaza being prevented from living with their partners residing in Israel. 

“This event highlights Israeli racist laws that forbid the two parts of Palestine to meet and fall in love and be together,” Jasmin Saleh wrote on the event’s Facebook page.

However during the ceremony neither party could make it to the checkpoint due to the Israeli army’s interference.  The bride was stopped in her traditional white gown whilst the groom and protestors peacefully marching to the wedding faced stun grenades and tear gas. 

Protestors held up placards with slogans such as “In sickness and in health, till Israel do us part,” written on them to the line of soldiers blocking their access to the checkpoint.

A bus carrying participants was prevented from attending the wedding by soldiers near the Jab’a checkpoint. 

The groom, Hazem, told Wafa News Agency that the symbolic ceremony was an attempt “to resist Israel’s racist laws which separate Palestinian couples and prevent the marriage between them.” According to Hazem the couple who were originally planning to take part in the ceremony dropped out due to fears of permanent separation.

According to the campaign’s Facebook page a man called Basel Mansour was arrested at the checkpoint. During the clashes on the West Bank side a youth was also arrested.

“Today we exposed an apartheid system. We tried to organize a wedding. As you have seen the Israeli army prevented the bride from coming. On the groom’s side they attacked us with bombs, [and] used tear gas. This practice of apartheid should be stopped,” said Dr Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, during the protest. 

According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the law “suspends the possibility, with certain rare exceptions, of family reunification between an Israeli citizen and a person residing in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip, thus adversely affecting the lives of many families.”

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel law 

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel law is a highly controversial law which infringes on the basic human rights on both Israeli’s and Palestinians. 

The 2003 constitutional law was upheld in January 2012 by the Israeli Supreme Court. This was after the law was amended in 2007 to prohibit spouses from “enemy states” entering Israel for the purpose of family reunification. Enemy states are defined as distinctly Arab states, including Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.

The state of Israel justifies the law under the broad definition of “security reasons,” pertaining that it does not have the means to undertake individual checks. The state based its claims on its right as a sovereign to permit or prohibit the entry of any foreigner into its territory.

The law is illegal on numerous grounds. Firstly it violates the right to family life, in addition to demonstrating a clearly discriminatory policy against people of Arab nationality and poses questions of racial equality, or rather the lack of.

The majority of the justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the potential security threat to the lives of Israelis must prevail over the right to family life. 

Justice Asher Grunis ruled, "Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide."

This ignores the fact that statistics provided by the state show that from 1994 to 2008, out of 130,000 Palestinians who have entered Israel for the purpose of family unification, only seven of them were indicted, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for charges related to terrorism. 

Such a discriminatory law distinctly contradicts Israel’s claim to be a “Jewish and democratic state.” The debate between the meaning of the two claims comes down to  the idea of a Jewish state needing to protect its “Jewishness” thus the law preserves the Jewish “race”, whilst on the other side a sweeping ban on inter-ethnic marriage and their right to live within Israel undermines the democratic character of any state.

There is a debate that the real reason behind the law is to ensure a Jewish majority within the Green Line and to prevent Palestinians from residing within Israel.




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