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Collective Rights of Minorities in Democratic Countries – A Comparative Survey

By Israel Among Nations, Recent, Rights, Duties and Law

This study conducted a comparative survey on the collective rights awarded to national, ethnic or religious minorities in democratic nation states. Five minority groups were selected for the survey which aimed to examine the policy adopted regarding recognition of their rights as a collective group in the fields of language, education and religion. The survey also incorporated findings of a previous survey on this topic conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center in 2017.

The objective of this paper is to enable a discussion of the collective rights enjoyed by the Israeli-Arab minority in the State of Israel that is based on empiric facts and figures. A broad understanding of the accepted practice in other countries around the world will allow us to conduct a more in-depth examination of this issue in Israel and to determine the degree to which the State of Israel conforms to international norms.

The main findings of the Institute for Zionist Strategies’ comparative survey and of the Knesset study on this topic are presented below in three categories: rights in the fields of language, education and religious:

Language Rights

  • 10 of the 12 countries surveyed maintain statutes that obligate the state to provide official documents, public services and access to the court system in the minority population’s language: Denmark (only the courts), Hungary, Greece (only the courts), Macedonia (partial rights), Norway, Spain (except the courts), Finland, and Canada; Belgium and the UK – only for the resident of Wallonia and Wales, respectively.
  • In 7 of the 12 countries surveyed, speakers of minority languages enjoy special rights in a district or region with a high concentration of minority populations, such as signs in the minority language, public services in their language and others: Italy, Hungary, Macedonia, Norway, and Finland; Belgium and the UK – only for the resident of Wallonia and Wales, respectively.
  • In 5 of the 12 countries surveyed, the minority population’s language has been declared an official local language in districts with a high concentration of minority populations: Italy, India, and Spain; Belgium and the UK – only for the resident of Wallonia and Wales, respectively.
  • In 6 of the 12 countries surveyed, the minority population’s language is an official state language without necessarily enjoying an equal legal status as that of the majority: Belgium, UK, Macedonia, Norway, Finland, and Canada.
  • In 2 of the 12 countries surveyed, a special committee has been established to promote the minority population’s language: UK and Norway.

 

Education Rights

  • Public education in the minority population’s language or bilingual education is officially guaranteed in all the countries surveyed.
  • In practice, in 10 of the 12 countries surveyed, the minority population makes widespread use of educational institutions in their own language or of bi-lingual education: Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Greece, Macedonia, Norway, Finland, Spain, Canada.
  • In 3 of the 12 countries surveyed, the minority population pupils are also legally obligated to learn the language of the majority together with their own language studied at the minority language schools: Italy, Macedonia, Finland.

Religious Rights

  • One of the two countries surveyed provide financial support for, and official recognition of, the minority population’s religion: Greece.
  • In 1 of the 2 countries surveyed, there is a secular public domain and a neutral official attitude: India.

Conclusions and Discussion Relating to the Arab Minority in Israel

Language Rights

  • In Israel, as in 10 of the 12 countries surveyed, the state is legally obligated to provide official documents, public services, and access to the court system in Arabic. This obligation was legislated during the British Mandate and has been subsequently expanded to include street and road signs.
  • In Israel, as in 5 of the 12 countries surveyed, Arabic speakers do not enjoy special rights in regional councils with a relatively large Arab population. Moreover, Arabic is not recognized as an official local language in those areas with a relatively large Arab population – a situation similar to that in 7 of the 12 countries surveyed.
  • Arabic was initially recognized as an official language in Israel, alongside Arabic and English, in keeping with Mandatory legislation. However, this status is no longer valid due to a number of court rulings and legislative acts. Although Arabic is not an official language, it has a special status and takes precedence over other minority languages in Israel.
  • No special committee for promoting Arabic has been established in Israel – a situation similar to that in 10 of the 12 countries surveyed.

 

Education Rights

  • As in all the other countries surveyed, public education in Arabic is guaranteed in Israel. Furthermore, as in 10 of the 12 countries surveyed, in practice, there is widespread use of Arabic educational institutions among the Arab population.
  • As in 3 of the 12 countries surveyed, all minority population pupils in Israel are obligated to learn Hebrew as well as Arabic (from Grade 3).

Religious Rights

  • The public domain in Israel is not entirely religiously neutral and features certain Jewish characteristics such as the cessation of public services on Shabbat and the official state emblems which are of a Jewish nature. At the same time however, there is official state financial support for and recognition of Islam.

The above findings reveal that the State of Israel meets international standards with regards to collective rights awarded to the Arab minority, especially in the fields of language and edication.  

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Tikkun Olam According to Jabotinsky

By Recent, Rights, Duties and Law

This month we invite you to delve deeper into the philosophy of the esteemed Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and familiarize yourselves with his view of the concept of ‘Tikkun Olam’ (lit. repair of the world). This study offers an in-depth analysis of Jabotinsky’s perception of a person’s role within the society in which he lives. Furthermore, the essay presents the manner in which the expressions of Jabotinsky’s view are reflected in his attitude towards socio-economic issues. Jabotinsky, who is frequently accused of having adopted occasionally conflicting political persuasions, is revealed here as a liberty-seeking statesman who believed in the individual’s ability to enhance the world around him while still demonstrating sensitivity towards the weaker members of society.

This essay is presented as part of our “Kol Koreh” project publishing outstanding academic essays.

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Getting To The Roots Of Liberal Nationalism

By Nation State, Recent

This month we invite you to get to the roots of liberal nationalism. In a time when the idea of a nation-state is too often portrayed as contradictory to personal liberties, it is important to remember that the evolution of national thinking went hand in hand with a liberal worldview. From Mazzini, Mill and Renan in Europe, to Jabotinsky and Wolzer in the Jewish discourse, the concept of liberal nationalism has been well-established and seems to carry a very relevant message to our modern society.

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Internationalization of Israeli Law: European Support of NGOs Appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court (follow-up study)

By Recent, Rights, Duties and Law

This study details the manner in which human rights organizations receiving funding from European governments promote political objectives through systematic petitioning to Israeli courts. Our study focused on three case studies: forced feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes; illegal immigrants and asylum seekers; and the demolition of terrorists’ homes, and examined the main petitions submitted on these issues by the organizations or on their behalf. The study aimed to evaluate the different influences of the many petitions in each of these fields. The main findings are presented below:

With regard to the forced feeding of prisoners, the human rights organizations’ appeals focused international public attention on the policy of the Israeli government attempting to contend with security prisoners, and contributed to the continued excessive and extortive demands from the security prisoners. Nevertheless, in reality, the High Court of Justice approved the legality of the current arrangement of force feeding and it would appear that most of the damage in this area amounts to harm caused to the State of Israel’s image and in promotion of the Palestinian narrative depicting the prisoners as freedom fighters.

With regard to the Prevention of Infiltration Law and the government’s policy aimed at eradicating the phenomenon of illegal immigration to Israel, the petitions submitted by the human rights organizations have had an extremely inhibitive influence on legislative efforts and on attempts to promote policy measures to curb this phenomenon. Following these petitions, the High Court of Justice revoked the legislation during several rounds of legal proceedings, causing, according to government sources, marked damage to the state’s ability to fight the phenomenon of illegal immigration.

With regard to the issue of demolition of terrorists’ homes, it is apparent that despite the many petitions promoted or aided by the human rights organizations, there has been no fundamental change in government policy and the military commander still maintains a high level of discretion, subject to various reservations determined by the High Court of Justice. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that these petitions delayed demolitions, sometimes for many months, a reality that may have harmed the effectiveness of this deterrent in the war against terror.  

Moreover, it is apparent from the findings that the activity of these organizations significantly influences the public and juridical discourse in Israel – both at local and international levels – surrounding the decision-making process and, all the more so, with regard to the State of Israel’s foreign relations.

Several recommendations were formulated in light of the study. First, effort should be made to increase the transparency of these organizations’ activity, from both ends of the political spectrum (e.g. exposing funding sources of organizations petitioning the court or joining a petition as a “friend of the court – amicus curiae). In addition, it seems advisable to consider the option of reducing the right of standing in law to direct victims only, while limiting the incentive for powerful “return players” such as human rights organizations with large financial resources.

To the full research…

From Oslo to Today: Human Rights Report

By Recent, Rights, Duties and Law

This study conducted a broad survey of three human rights issues in Judea and Samaria: employment of Palestinians in Israel, treatment of Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals, and the functioning of the crossing points. The study examined the Israeli policy for each of the three issues and the implementation of that policy since the Oslo Accords until today, 25 years after the agreements were signed. The main findings are presented below:

Employment of Palestinians in Israel

The general trend in Israeli policy since Oslo is one of increased employment and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In the eyes of the Israeli government, as long as the security situation allows it, the economic cooperation expressed by an increase in the number of Palestinians employed in Israel leads to positive results, both from an economic and security perspective. Nevertheless, flaws were found in the manner of employment and in the protection of employees’ rights.

  • Since the Oslo Accords and until today, there has been a general trend of increased numbers of Palestinian employees in Israel, except for isolated exceptions, most of which occurred during sensitive periods from a security perspective. In 1996, the number of work permits stood at approximately 25,000, in 2011, this figure had risen to about 37,000, and by 2017 had reached 85,000.
  • Flaws were found in the current employment method which resulted in an infringement of the Palestinian workers’ rights to social benefits: improper employment contracts, a lack of provisions for retirement, and ineligibility for vacation and sick allowance.
  • In order to rectify the flaws, the government decided in 2016 on the implementation of a reform in the manner of Palestinian workers’ employment that included a placement program for Palestinian workers and the option of limited entry into Israel without the need for a request from an employer. A series of other steps aimed at guaranteeing the workers’ rights was also introduced.

 

Receipt of Medical Treatment in Israel


The area of medical treatment received by Palestinians in Israel has also been characterized by a trend of increased cooperation. This trend was due to diplomatic, security, economic, and moral reasons. At the same time, the congestion caused in certain departments because of treatment given to Palestinian patients, as well as the Palestinian Authority’s huge debt owed to Israeli hospitals, constitute a significant burden which requires immediate attention.

  • Between 2003-2017, there was a marked increase in the number of entry permits given to Palestinians in order to receive medical treatment in Israel. The number of permits rose from 19,488 in 2003 to 93,770 in 2017.
  • The hospital departments with the highest number of Palestinian patients are the pediatric departments. A study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center found that 51% of all Palestinian hospitalization days were in departments designated for children.
  • The Palestinian Authority refrains from transferring full payment for the treatments and has accumulated a huge debt to Israeli hospitals. A study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center revealed that in 2017 the Palestinian Authority’s outstanding debt to hospitals in Israel stood at approximately 40.36 million shekels.
  • In recent years, the proportion of permits for treatment in hospitals throughout Israel rose compared to that of the permits issued for treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals.

 

Crossing Points between the Palestinian Authority and Israel

Reports issued by the State Ombudsman and ongoing reports prepared by the Institute over recent years, have revealed findings regarding flaws at the crossing points from Judea and Samaria. The main finding requiring attention is related to the completion of the civilianization process (the replacement of soldiers with civilian staff in the management of the crossings). It seems that rectification of this shortcoming would result in better service and a high level of security for those using the crossings. Until then, specific congestion can be alleviated by opening additional crossings during peak hours, such as opening the Beitar Crossing for workers during morning hours, a step that would lessen the burden on the Rachel Crossing. Increasing personnel would also enable the opening of additional “sleeves” whenever the congestion increases.

  • Since the decision in 2005 regarding civilianization of the crossings, 13 of the 33 crossings have been fully civilianized. There are 16 more crossings in the Jerusalem periphery where only security is civilian and 4 IDF crossings that have yet to be civilianized.
  • Civilianization of the crossings has led to better and more efficient functioning and to a higher level of service provided to their users. According to the report of the Land Crossings Authority, the waiting time during peak hours does not exceed 20 minutes at any of the civilianized crossings. By contrast, at the crossings yet to be civilianized, an Institute report found waiting times of between 30-60 minutes.
  • In light of the increased use of the crossings over the years, infrastructures have been upgraded at the various crossings. The rate of these works is faster at civilianized crossings.  

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An Examination of the Policy of Employing Palestinian Laborers in the Israeli Construction Industry

By Demographics, Recent

This article surveys the long-standing Israeli policy in the field of employing Palestinian laborers from Judea and Samaria in Israel and presents the changes that have occurred in this policy since the beginning of Israeli control over Judea and Samaria.

Impetus for conducting this study was rooted in the personal testimonies that have steadily accumulated over recent years regarding the infringements of the Palestinian laborers’ social benefits rights and of the flaws in the distribution of permits to Israeli employers which have a detrimental effect upon the efficiency of the Israeli construction sector.

In this study, we related to the shortcomings presented in the State Ombudsman’s Report for 2014. The report indicated the lack of a uniform and systemized policy for allocating permits to employers, a lack of supervision over the awarding of social benefits to Palestinian laborers, and to the existence of a restrictive arrangement which results in Palestinian laborers being obligated to work for a single Israeli employer without the option of transferring to another. One very negative consequence of this arrangement is the dependence of laborers in agents to ensure the continuity of their employment, a service which costs them a high percentage of their income.

In light of these shortcomings, we examined the effectiveness of the reform in this field authorized by the Ministry of Finance in October 2018. The study found that the reform solves most of the problems caused by the existing policy and can be primarily successful in negating the cartel and in increasing enforcement aimed at ensuring provision of social benefits for laborers in accordance with the terms of Israeli law.

Finally, the study recommends complementary measures to the reform, including ongoing guidance for Palestinian laborers regarding their social benefits and the imposition of financial penalties on contractors who were found to have used the services of agents. The study also highlights the importance of establishing the payments and clearing system with the Palestinian Authority as recommended by the reform. This system will serve to prevent cash payment to the laborers, payment that increases the risk of infringement of the laborers’ social benefits rights.

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The Status of Former Jewish Assets in Judea and Samaria – Rethinking the Court’s Ruling in Valero

By Demographics, Recent

This paper is the first in a series of student academic essays published by the IZS as part of 2019 Call for Papers project. It explores the status of the former Jewish properties in Judea and Samaria that were seized by Jordan in 1948. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Valero case (2011), this paper concludes that Israel legally can, and should, return the property to its former owners.

To learn more about the arguments supporting this conclusion, read the full research.

Here is a link to a short YouTube video

https://youtu.be/fWpKEh7If6c

Law Enforcement In The Arab Sector

By Recent, Rights, Duties and Law

Three years following the October 2000 events, the Or Commission published its recommendations for the improvement of the relations between the Israeli police and the Arab society. The commission’s report made recommendations in three major areas: the treatment of Israeli Arabs as non hostile, the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between the police and the Arab society, and equal enforcement of the law in the Arab sector. This paper examined the degree to which these recommendations have been implemented in the 15 years since the issuance of the Orr Commission’s report.

With regards to the treatment of Arabs by the police, we found that the Israeli police uses excessive force towards the Arab society compared to the Jewish society. However, based on the data examined, it is hard to determine whether this is the result of discriminatory practices or the relatively high friction between the police and parts of the Arab population. In addition, the Arab sector is, to some extent, subject to over-policing. In recent years, the percentage of arrests that didn’t result in pressing charges among Israeli Arabs was significantly higher than its equivalent in the Jewish sector. These issues have probably accounted for the decline in the level of trust in the police among Israeli Arabs since 2003.
With regards to strengthening the dialogue between the police and the Arab sector, we found that government decisions aimed at expanding the Civil Guard apparatus in the Arab sector have been partially implemented. Moreover, Arab volunteers in the police make up a small part in proportion to their share in the population.

With regards to equal law enforcement in the Arab sector, we found that major Arab cities are still lacking in police stations. This is in part the result of objections by some of the Arab municipalities to allocate lands for the purpose of establishing new police stations. In addition, Arabs’ participation rate in the police force is much lower than their share in the population. Efforts to tackle these problems have been made as part of the implementation of government decision No. 922.

Our research concludes that, in the 15 years since the issuance of the Orr Commission’s report, there have been minor improvements, however, there is still a lot to be done to amend the relationship between the Israeli police and the Arab sector. For this to happen, the Israeli government should take measures against police officers who use excessive force and continue to promote equal law enforcement. It is also critical that Arab leaders and elected officials work together with the Israeli police to encourage more Israeli Arabs to join the police.

To the full research…

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