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.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Middle East, Terrorism, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John says:

    Man, this is getting truly surreal. Breaking up marriages for “security reasons” is a stunning reminder of some of the ultimate ramifications of the logic going on here.

  2. melvin toast says:

    Horrible… just horrible… No wonder the Arabs are
    bombing innocent civilians. These people are inhuman.
    Murdering innocent children can not be compared to
    this act of cruelty… Oh the humanity!

  3. James Joyner says:


    I condemn Arab terrorism constantly; I’m not making an argument of moral equivalency. The two are only tangentially related, however.

    Organized crime is a bad thing. That doesn’t mean we round up all the Italians, right?

  4. melvin toast says:

    Organized crime is a poor analogy. Jews have been
    the target of persecution throughout history. After
    the Nazis decimated millions of Jews, they were given
    a homeland less than the size of Connecticut. And
    for next 50 plus years, the Arabs did what they had
    done to the Jews throughout history. The Israelies
    give them land that they occupied in wars that the Arabs
    started, they release their criminals who’s sole intent
    is to kill Jews, and in return, more innocent children
    are ruthlessly murdered. Furthermore, the majority
    of Arabs support the bombings. When Jewish are being targeted on a daily basis, when
    they’ve lived like that throughout history, and when the
    “pillars” of Western civilization keep pressuring them to
    spill blood for “peace”, it’s pretty amazing that they are
    as lenient as they are. Most countries would have deported
    the Arabs back to Syria and Jordan… where they came from.

  5. Dave says:

    While you have a point, this stuck out from the quote:

    “without obtaining the proper papers from Israel’s Interior Ministry, often for years or even decades”. Implication being that there have been legal requirements for a long time that people just have been ignoring.