ACRI in the News: April 1 – April 15 2012

Racial Profiling in Airports

Arabs say they endure degrading security checks at airports
3 April 2012 (The National)
Airport discrimination is at the heart of a five-year-old petition to the Israeli Supreme Court that challenges the harsh security measures targeting Palestinian citizens at airports within Israel as well as by the flagship Israeli airline, El Al, abroad. The court is expected to make a decision on the issue in the next two months.

In legal documents and court hearings, Israel has indicated that it intensifies security checks for Arab citizens in a bid to prevent terror attacks, said Auni Banna, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which had filed the petition.
Prisoners’ Access to Books

Court calls on IPS to publish inmates’ book rules
3 April 2012 (The Jerusalem Post)
The Supreme Court on Monday said the Israel Prisons Service should publish amended regulations regarding the number of books prisoners are permitted to have.

The call came in a ruling on an appeal the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and two women prisoners filed in 2009 against a Tel Aviv District Court ruling on the issue of inmates’ access to reading material. […]
ACRI welcomed the Supreme Court’s order that the Prisons Service officially publish its amended regulations. Attorney Lila Margalit, director of ACRI’s Human Rights in the Criminal Process Program, said the Prisons Service had harmed inmates’ fundamental rights to freedom of expression as well as the right to educate themselves and acquire knowledge.
The “Permit Regime” in the Occupied Territories

Israel: Palestinians cut off from farmlands
5 April 2012 (Human Rights Watch)
A court ruling upholding a military permit system has had the result that a year later West Bank Palestinians in one affected area are virtually unable to work on their farmlands, Human Rights Watch said today, on the anniversary of the High Court of Justice ruling. […]

On April 5, 2011, the court rejected a consolidated petition against the permit regime filed in 2003 by HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, and in 2004 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The petitions argued that it severely and unlawfully harmed Palestinians’ rights and amounted to discrimination. The court ruled that the military’s system of controlling Palestinians’ movement across the barrier on the basis of special permits “preserve[s] as much as possible the fabric of life Palestinians enjoyed [before] the area’s closure,” and that the harm it caused was proportionate to its security benefits of preventing potential Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
Bill Proposed to Bypass the Supreme Court

The legislation that would remake Israel
9 April 2012 (The Times of Israel)
In the past three years, Israel’s parliament has been the arena for a running legislative skirmish that some see as no less than a struggle for the soul of the state.

Last weekend, in the latest battle in this war, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman proposed a bill that would allow lawmakers to reinstate laws that are struck down by the Supreme Court. If passed, the bill would enable 65 of the Knesset’s 120 members to re-legislate laws that the country’s highest legal body has declared unconstitutional. Politicians from the right applauded the initiative, while left-wingers and human rights activists slammed it. […]

“There were bad laws even three years ago, before this coalition,” said Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “But what we see in the Knesset now we haven’t seen in the past. There were [anti-democratic] initiatives in the past, and some of them became law, but such a barrage of bills, that is something that no Knesset has seen before.”

Israel: Seeking to Give the Power Back to the Legislators
9 April 2012 (Yeshiva World News)
Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman is just one of the growing number of legislators in Israel who has grown tired of the ultra-liberal High Court of Justice running the nation and he is working on submitting a bill that will give the power back to the Knesset. […] ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) released a message that the bill will negatively impact the rights of citizens.
Uprooting the Negev Bedouin
Rights groups: Israel ignoring Bedouin land claims
1 April 2012 (The Jerusalem Post)
The government is ignoring Bedouin claims to their land, and is moving forward intransigently with a program of displacement and relocation, two human rights organization charged in a letter sent to senior officials in Jerusalem.

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote the letter in protest to the Prawer Plan, Knesset legislation addressing the issue of Bedouin settlement in the Negev and unrecognized villages. The organizations’ sharp criticism focuses on two central issues in the plan: “the dismantling of the unrecognized villages and forced displacement and relocation of tens of thousands of residents to recognized settlements, and the recognition of Bedouin ownership to lands.”

Uprooting 30,000 Bedouins in Israel
3 April 2012 (Al Jazeera)
“It is not every day that a government decides to relocate almost half a per cent of its population in a programme of forced urbanisation,” Rawia Aburabia asserted, adding that “this is precisely what Prawer wants to do”.

The meeting, which was attempting to coordinate various actions against the Prawer Plan, had just ended, and Rawia, an outspoken Bedouin leader who works for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, was clearly upset. She realised that the possibility of changing the course of events was extremely unlikely and that, at the end of the day, the government would uproot 30,000 Negev Bedouin and put them in townships. This would result in an end to their rural way of life and would ultimately deprive them of their livelihood and land rights.
Gunter Grass Poem

Israel’s free speech problem
10 April 2012 (Global Post)
Earlier this week, German writer Gunter Grass was barred from Israel for the content of his poem “What Must Be Said,” a meditation on the situation between Israel and Iran. The Nobel laureate’s piece, which warns of Israel’s military might and condemns German arms sales to Israel caused an outrage in both countries and tempers have flared all over the internet, both in favor of and against the content of the poem. […]

“The decision to prevent someone from voicing their opinions by arresting and deporting them is typical of a totalitarian regime,” said Oded Feller, a lawyer for Israel’s Association for Civil Rights to the Guardian after Finkelstein’s deportation. “A democratic state, where freedom of expression is the highest principle, does not shut out criticism or ideas just because they are uncomfortable for its authorities to hear. It confronts those ideas in public debate.”
Right to Health

It will happen to us too
5 April 2012 (Times of Israel)
Rami Adut, Director of ACRI’s Right to Health Program, in an op-ed about nursing care for seniors:
Recently I find myself thinking of my late grandfather, once a strong and cheerful man. I think about how he spent his final years sitting helplessly in a wheelchair, waiting to be fed. This is a repressed memory. Perhaps we all do this — repress such memories, along with the distress and confusion that sweeps over the entire family as an elder’s treatment exacts heavy mental and financial tolls. We repress these things because, while we all want to grow old with dignity and live a long life, we worry about what kind of life we can expect to lead when we reach that point. None of us wants to spend our final years in deteriorating health in a nursing home.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that one in five seniors living in Israel requires nursing care, either at home or in an institution. What makes matters even worse is that nursing care for the elderly is an underfunded no man’s land in the current health care system.”

Assuta to open Ashdod hospital in 2013
11 April 2012 (Globes)
The partial operation of the Ashdod hospital is good news for the city’s 230,000 residents, and will happen ten years after the Knesset passed the law ordering the construction of a public hospital in the city. More interestingly, however, is that the Ministry of Health comes one week after the government was forced to respond to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by several NPOs against Assuta providing private services at the hospital.

The petitioners, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights, contended that the operation of a private hospital contravened the principle of equality stipulated in the Health Insurance Law. The government argued in response that the right to provide a quarter of the surgical procedures on a private basis was the reason Assuta bid in the tender, and without this clause, it is liable to withdraw from the project.
Entry Fee to Public Parks

Israeli Arabs, rights groups say Kiryat Ata discriminates in park fees
15 April 2012 (Haaretz)
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is demanding that the Kiryat Ata municipality stop charging entry fees to the town’s public Sport Park, which the association says are discriminatory and illegal.

[…] Sharaf Hassan of the neighboring town Tamra and an ACRI member came with his wife, two children and other relatives to the park at the beginning of last week. To his surprise, they were stopped at the entrance and charged entry fees.

The new policy was mainly designed to prevent Arab families from entering the park, Hassan said. “Obviously most of the out-of-town visitors come from the adjacent Arab communities such as Shfaram and Tamra, since the Jewish ones have plenty of other open areas and sites to spend time in. It’s regrettable that such a place, which should be open to children of all age groups, has become a bastion of racism and hatred, and a barrier preventing Arab children from playing in the park. These children have no public areas and parks in their villages,” he said.

ACRI has demanded that Mayor Yaakov Peretz stop charging entry fees to the park, which is contrary to the law banning payment to enter public parks. The decision to charge entry fees requires a special permit from the Interior Ministry and the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, the association said.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Movement, Land Distribution and Planning Rights, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages, Privatization, Racism and Discrimination, Social and Economic Rights, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Education, The Right to Equality, The Right to Health, The Right to Property

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