HAMHANDED POLITICS IN ISRAEL
The Washington Times reports on another bizarre move by the Sharon government:
More than 20,000 Arab families face the agonizing choice of breaking up or leaving Israel after passage of a law banning Palestinian spouses of Israelis from obtaining citizenship or residence permits.
The amendment to the national citizenship law, passed two weeks ago, mainly affects Palestinians who have married Arab Israelis and joined them in Israel without obtaining the proper papers from Israel’s Interior Ministry, often for years or even decades.
Critics say the law seeks to drive a wedge between the mixed couples while destroying any remnant of normal family life for their children. But backers of the amendment argue that it is essential for Israel’s self-defense during a period of war.
“Israel can’t only defend itself by the power of the army,” said Geula Cohen, an Israel Radio commentator and a conservative former member of parliament. “It needs to protect itself through the power of the law.”
Advocates of the law include chiefs of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, who argue that too many Palestinians who received residency status because of Israeli spouses have exploited those rights to aid militants in their nearly 3-year-old uprising. Last year, a suicide bombing in a Haifa restaurant was carried out by the son of a mixed couple.
“It’s a law that doesn’t distinguish between those really involved in terrorism and those not involved. But because it’s impossible to filter, there needs to something sweeping,” said Tibi Rabinovich, an aide to Mr. Poraz. “He’s not happy about the law, but as long as peace isn’t ripe, it’s a necessity of reality.”
I certainly don’t envy the balancing act that the Israeli government has to perform, which makes even post-9/11 America idyllic by comparison. But there has to be a saner policy than this, if nothing else to ward off the horrible PR this will engender. Israel rightly claims to be the only democracy in the region. This requires more than elections to be meaningful, however. Some basic due process and fealty to human rights is required as well. Indeed, our own Declaration of Independance was far more concerned with liberty than it was with voting.