In 1949, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H.
Jackson warned about turning the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights into a
national "suicide pact." On similar grounds, the Israeli Supreme Court earlier
this month rejected a challenge to the 2003 "temporary" Citizenship
and Entry into Israel Law. Israeli Justice Asher Grunis, writing for the
majority of the Court, found that human rights are "not a prescription for
The Israeli law at issue bars Palestinians from the Occupied
Territories and nations hostile to Israel from living with their spouses who
reside in Israel. Unlike others who marry Israeli citizens, these spouses are
not granted Israeli citizenship and residency permits.
Proponents contend the law is a security measure because
those barred come from areas that deny Israel's right to exist as a nation.
Given that its enemies threaten another Holocaust, and the tiny nation has been
scarred over the years by numerous terrorist attacks, is unsurprising that
security is an important issue when it comes to immigration.
However, critics of the law contend that it is in fact a
human rights issue. The law in essence either separates spouses or is a de
facto push for the spouse residing in Israel to leave. The security argument
is, according to these critics, a mere fig leaf to cover the true purpose of an
"apartheid" law, which is to keep Israel "Jewish" instead of permitting Arabs
to immigrate and have families within the country that alters the identity of
Whether or not this is the law's purpose, there is a gap
between the birth rates in Arab and Israeli families. To permit Palestinians to
join spouses in Israel to raise families would quickly change the demographic
destiny of the country. Within a few decades, the majority religion in Israel
would be Islam and Jews by religion and ethnicity would be a distinct minority.
And, as can be seen in countries where Islam is the
predominant religion (Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc.), religious minorities face
serious persecution by the Moslem majority. One can understand why Israel is
reluctant to risk a "Jewish" future on uncharacteristic religious tolerance by
those who still deny the right of the country to exist, and who have a
long-standing and current record of
oppressing Jews, Christians and other minorities who happen still to live in
their own ancestral homelands which now happen to be subject to the control of
one of the countries listed at the beginning of this paragraph.
It should be noted that few countries permit foreign spouses
entry as a matter of right based upon marriage. Indeed, international marriages
are frequently viewed with additional scrutiny because the institution has been
degraded by those using it to traffic in mail-order brides, thinly veiled human
trafficking, "green card" sham marriages, and other abuses of traditional
notions of what constitutes a marriage.
Yet the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law seems to be an
overly blunt instrument of the rule of law to use regardless of the motives
behind it. Strict immigration security prescreening of Palestinian spouses,
together with a requirement that such immigration applicants take a loyalty
oath to the State of Israel that affirms the right of the Jewish state to
exist, would seem to be a reasonable alternative to arbitrary denial of entry
to spouses based upon geographic region of origin. Surely, the human rights
aspect of marriage could be protected through analysis on a case-by-case basis
instead of carte blanche denial of entry.
law decision a stain on Israeli law', Jerusalem Post (Jan. 12, 2012)
rights equated with national suicide, Al Jazeera (Jan. 12, 2012)