Israeli Arab Ex-justice: Nation-state Law Will Only 'Add to Discrimination' Against Arabs

'After the passage of the nation-state law I couldn't restrain myself and keep quiet any longer,' Salim Joubran says; 'there isn't a single word about equality in the law'

Judge Salim Joubran
Emil Salman

Salim Joubran, former deputy president of the Supreme Court, warned in a radio interview on Tuesday that the new nation-state law will strengthen existing discrimination against Arab society, saying “The law is bad, superfluous and doesn’t add honor to the Israeli law books.”

Joubran, an Arab, attacked the law as racist. In an interview with radio’s Reshet Bet he said he hoped the High Court of Justice would consider invalidating it, adding that he would definitely reject it if he were on the bench now.

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“After the passage of the nation-state law I couldn’t restrain myself and keep quiet any longer,” said Joubran in the interview. “There isn’t a single word about equality in the law. The right to equality is one of the most important basic rights in every country in the democratic world, and that should have been the case in our country too – but to my regret that didn’t happen.”

Joubran added, “Apparently they don’t know that Arab society in Israel has been suffering for years from discrimination in many aspects of life, and from egregious inequality.” He enumerated many areas in which he said the Arab population suffers from inequality: education, housing, unemployment among Arab academics, and problems of resources and infrastructure.

“The nation-state law will add to the discrimination that exists in everyday life,” asserted Joubran. “At one time they said that Arab society is a burden on the state, and that’s not true.” He went on to say, “Today Arab society is an asset to the country and could be an important part of its economic growth, if the government were to regard this society correctly, treat it properly and grant it its rights.”

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Joubran continued: “We thought that now, finally, an important basic law would arrive and the state would bring about equality, but apparently our leaders and some of the MKs forgot or ignored many things.” He maintained that the law ignores the Declaration of Independence: “It says there that the country’s Arabs should be given full rights. How can they ignore such a document?” 

Joubran added that the legislators ignored the biblical sources, and the words of great leaders of the Jewish people. Quoting the Bible, he said, “’And thou shalt love the stranger because ye were strangers in the Land of Egypt’ – how is it possible to ignore all those things as though they were never said?”

Joubran also noted the blow to the status of Arabic in the nation-state law. “Can anyone explain to me what the brilliant idea is of the definition ‘a language with a special status’? I believe that the situation will remain the same, but the intention behind lowering the status of the language [from that of a ‘national language’] is to strike at the very heart of the Arab public.