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Memorandum on institutionalized racial discrimination by and in the State of Israel
: Memorandum on institutionalized racial discrimination by and in the State of IsraelBy
: Elias Davidsson Date of issue
: July 1993Topic(s) addressed
: Commentary Abstract
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1965, has now been ratified by most member states. Article 1 of this Convention defines the term racial discrimination as 'any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.'
This Convention lays down specific obligations on member states to outlaw racial discrimination and penalize activities of racial incitement. It must be borne in mind that the term 'racial discrimination' is not basically a technical term but a term used to encompass all kinds of discrimination based on a person's being or origin (for which a person is not responsible). The Nazi persecution of Jews has been pursued on the basis of 'racialism' and condemned by the whole world as 'racial persecution', in spite of the fact that Jews don't constitute a specific race.
When evaluating whether certain conditions or practices constitute 'racial discrimination', it is not imperative that intent is proved. It suffices that conditions or practices have the 'effect of nullifying or impairing' equality of rights (see above), regardless of the declared intent of those conditions or practices.
The State of Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Zionist state. All major Israeli parties identify themselves as Zionist. Racial discrimination against non-Jews is grounded in Israeli laws, regulations, practices and permeates all fields of public life. The very definition of Israel as a Jewish State cannot but alienate the indigenous non-Jewish population of the country, which constitutes - depending on definition - between 18% and 60% of the population.
Most non-Jews who are living in or originate from areas under Israeli control, identify themselves as Palestinians. Although most of these are Muslim, there are also many Christian Palestinians and a few hundred Jews, both religious and secular, who prefer to identify themselves as Palestinians.