Human Rights in Israel Are in Jeopardy

Israel ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it is hard to say the Knesset members are bound to it or to its spirit and principles.

Today, December 6, the Israeli legislature will mark Human Rights Day (scheduled for December 10 ) ahead of many parliaments in the world with a series of events, meetings and debates. On this date in 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration was drafted in the shadow of the Holocaust horrors and in view of millions of homeless refugees.

Kadima MKs waving black flags - Emil Salman - 15112011
Emil Salman

"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people," the declaration says.

The declaration is based on the inalienable right of every person to freedom and equality "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." The proclamation puts special emphasis on freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, expression and most of all - the right to a nationality.

Israel ratified the declaration and its Hebrew version appears on the Knesset's home page on the Internet. However it is hard to say the Knesset members are bound to it or to its spirit and principles, most of which are reflected in the founding document of the State of Israel - the Declaration of Independence.

The annual report of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel published at the beginning of the week reveals an alarming acceleration of the process undermining all the issues the UN declaration refers to. It consists of infringing on the freedoms of demonstration, protest and expression; restricting the freedom of political activity, limiting demonstrators' and activists' moves, constricting freedom of moment and demonstration in the territories, blatant discrimination against women, eroding social rights and especially savage anti-democratic legislation.

It is hard to believe the Knesset members responsible for this foul surge would suddenly transform, but their colleagues who still believe in human beings and their rights must raise a loud, clear shout of warning against the dangerous process lurking at the threshold of Israeli democracy and threatening to destroy it.

Read this article in Hebrew