In Israel, Some Are More Equal Than Others

When the regime is not restricted, when equality pertains only to those whom the court likes, then the 'infiltrators' who can be held for three years without trial can easily be those who infiltrated a public park to protest and to sleep in.

When you read about new laws that will reduce human rights in Israel, you probably have thought to yourselves: Oh well, they only apply to Arabs (and Africans ) and so everything else will be okay.

Indeed, the Citizenship Law is a huge blow to the family rights of Arab women and men, you may have thought - but it is essential for preserving security. It's true that the new legislation against infiltrators turns refugees into criminals simply because they are in Israel - but it is essential for preserving a Jewish majority here. These are undemocratic laws, which not only do not protect equality, but create discrimination - but they are still necessary for protecting the Jewish state. And, you may be thinking, since the Jewish majority is the top priority of the government, the Knesset and the Supreme Court, such non-democratic legislation will not actually affect us, we Jews living in Zion.

Well, you had better think again.

The designated president of the Supreme Court, Asher Grunis, makes it clear in ruling on the petition against the Citizenship Law that he is opposed in principle to extending the meaning of rights mentioned in the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, since "the result is likely to be contempt for the constitutional rights." According to this logic, contempt is apparently not evident in the statement by Justice Miriam Naor in this ruling - that a citizen has a right to family life, but who said it has to be realized in his own country? - but rather is found in the acceptance of this right as part of the human right of dignity and freedom.

An upside-down world.

On Sunday, the police - using unnecessary force - evacuated the tent city in the Hatikva quarter of Tel Aviv, which was a protest encampment but also the living quarters of people who have no other home. Unlike the demonstrators who pitched "symbolic" tents this summer, and then dismantled them and went home at the end of that particular chapter of the protest, a number of tents remained for those who had nowhere else to go. But the Tel Aviv municipality, which is so ecologically minded and concerned about "the only green lung available to the residents of the neighborhood," insisted that these people be evacuated.

When the tent-dwellers went to court over the evacuation - stating that the Hatikva residents actually support them and their struggle, that their right to protest was being infringed and, mainly, that according to law it is the municipality and not only the Housing Ministry that is authorized and supposed to "provide housing for people of limited means" - they were rejected by the judge.

The reason: the principle of equality that the authority has to uphold, so as "not to create a situation of discrimination in favor of those who have chosen to live in tents, as compared with the situation of other, homeless people who did not take the law into their own hands and set up a tent city in a public park."

That's right: We are talking about the right to equality when it comes to not having a roof over your head - the right to equality among all those who have nothing. Judge Avigail Cohen also hit the nail on the head with respect to the logic of Justice Naor, and stated that "a person's right to a place to live ... does not mean the right to live precisely in Tel Aviv."

Perhaps a person should be a resident of one town, live in another - and set up a family in a third country? Then all of his rights will be upheld according to these latest rulings.

Justice Aharon Barak earlier misused the principle of equality when he ruled in 2004 that social workers who had not been paid a salary for a year (! ) because of a municipal deficit, could not receive their wages directly from the Social Affairs Ministry because this would constitute a blow to the equality of other municipal workers who do not get a salary. Six years prior to that, Justice Mishael Cheshin emptied the term "substantive equality" of substance when he explained that perhaps Muslim religious services need not receive the same budgets as Jewish religious services.

So don't be so sure. Justice Edmond Levy quoted Prof. Gualtiero Procaccia, who wrote that "the legal system is merely a reflection of society, and if society is altered, then by itself the legal system is altered, for better or worse. Only the internal forces of the society can prevent its deterioration."

When the regime is not restricted, when equality pertains only to those whom the court likes, then the "infiltrators" who can be held for three years without trial can easily be those who infiltrated a public park to protest and to sleep in.

Read this article in Hebrew