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Israeli ‘nation-state’ law follows in footsteps of Jim Crow, Indian Removal Act, and Nuremberg Laws

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Roughly eighty years after Nazi Germany enacted what became known as the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, Israeli lawmakers in July 2018 have codified a new Jewish supremacy law, which effectively mirror the Nazi-era legislation of ethnoreligious stratification of German citizenry.

Rights exclusive to Jewish citizens

Dubbed the “nation state” law, its first clause stipulates that “actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” In other words, the 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the native inhabitants who managed to remain in their homes when European Jews conquered Palestine in 1948, shall be without sovereignty or agency, forever living at the mercy of Israeli Jews.

One of the early anti-Semitic laws in Germany, the first of the Nuremberg Laws, was the Reich Citizenship Law, which likewise deemed citizenship privilege exclusive to people of “German or kindred blood.” Since there was no scientifically sound way to distinguish Jewish Germans from the rest of German society, as they were racially white Europeans and ethnically German, lawmakers looked to genealogy for Jewish grandparents. That will not be necessary for indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel because, since its creation in 1948, Israel put protocols in place to ensure that non-Jews do not assimilate into mainstream Jewish society.

Ethnoreligious purity

This brings us to the second Nuremberg Law: Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which sought to prevent mixing of Aryan blood, dubbed “race defilement.”

In Israel, anti-miscegenation laws are already in place, masquerading as traditional values where marriage can only be performed by religious officials. The Orthodox rabbinate has exclusive purview over Jewish marriages, where Jewishness is a narrowly defined bloodline and interreligious marriage is strictly forbidden.

Exclusivity of Jewish symbols

The Reich Flag Law, part of the Nuremberg Laws, established that black, red, and white were the national colors, and the swastika flag was the new national flag. The second clause of Israel’s nation-state law regarding national symbols indicates that “the flag of the state is white, two blue stripes near the edges, and a blue Star of David in the center.” Two days after it was passed, Israeli police and military soldiers arrested a Palestinian boy for holding a Palestinian flag outside al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Judaizing Jerusalem

The third clause of the nation-state law reiterates Israel’s illegitimate claim to the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, an illegal and internationally unrecognized claim that has been emboldened by Donald Trump’s move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Interestingly, however, this new law does not define state borders and Israel remains the only country in the world without declared borders. This is not surprising, as Israel is a still expanding settler-colonial state, even though its admission to the United Nations in 1948 was based on its claim to only the 1948 armistice line, which does not include Jerusalem or any other part of the West Bank.

Erasing Arabic

This new law also marks the beginning of the erasure of Arabic from the land, as it decrees Hebrew to be the only official language of the state, while Arabic has “special status.” The fourth clause further explains that use of “the Arab language [sic]” institutionally “will be regulated by law.”

Colonizing the whole of Palestine, Ghettoizing and robbing Palestinians

As for the 4.5 million indigenous Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank who do not have Israeli citizenship, the nation-state law alludes to their fate in the seventh clause, which states: “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

Simply stated, Israel will continue to work in earnest to build Jewish-only colonies on seized Palestinian land, ostensibly where a Palestinian state was to be formed per the Oslo Accords.

We can expect that more settlement will simply accelerate Israel’s ongoing displacement of Palestinians to replace them with imported Jews. We know from the past fifty-one years of settlement construction that this process is accomplished by systematic dispossession, marginalization, ghettoization and robbing of indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. This process more closely resembles the Manifest Destiny removal and marginalization of First Nations in North America.

Western media should stop mincing words by calling the nation-state law “controversial” when in fact it is encoding the worst human impulses into law, the likes of which are found in Nazi Germany, Jim Crow America, the Indian Removal Act and other abominable moments in human history.

Susan Abulhawa

Susan Abulhawa is the author of the international bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010) – – and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine –

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20 Responses

  1. tony greenstein on July 24, 2018, 8:42 am

    A good article. Just a couple of comments. In Nazi Germany, under the Nuremburg Laws, citizenship was removed from German Jews they became aliens. This was of course because German nationality and citizenship were coterminous whereas in Israel of course nationality and citizzenship are separate.

    Israeli Arabs can therefore retain their citizenship since it means nothing. The only important nationality is Jewish. In essence therefore Arabs in Israel are aliens with certain rights.

    • Misterioso on July 24, 2018, 10:50 am

      @Tony Greenstein

      The entity known as “Israel” (i.e., west of the green line) also differentiates between citizenship and nationality. “Israeli” nationality does not exist, only Jews and non-Jews, and each citizen carries an appropriate identity card. While the implications of this absurdity for discrimination and racism against non-Jews are obvious, it has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.

      The effect of Israel’s blatantly racist “Citizenship Law” and more than fifty other restrictions Arab citizens have to endure is well expressed by writer and Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi, “…dutifully defining the state [of Israel] as ‘Jewish and democratic,’ ignores the fact that in practice ‘democratic’ refers to Jews, and the Arabs are nothing more than citizens without citizenship.” (Ma’ariv, 1.6.2005)

    • Maghlawatan on July 24, 2018, 1:22 pm

      They never had full rights. They were never wanted. They never had any political power. Never occupied any senior ministry. Their language was never respected.

    • Maghlawatan on July 24, 2018, 1:25 pm

      BTW Tony ” Israeli Arabs” is meaningless. They are 1948 Palestinians.

      • wondering jew on July 24, 2018, 2:28 pm

        Magh- Maybe things have changed since 2010 and maybe those who answered this question were not being honest, but 12% of Israeli Arabs would probably call themselves Israeli Arabs and the number who would call themselves Palestinian is not near the 100% mark that your words imply.
        In the quora page scan down to the fourth answer (Jason Pierce) that cites the zogby university of maryland survey of 600 “israeli arabs”.

      • Maghlawatan on July 24, 2018, 4:36 pm

        Yonah , lots has changed since 2010.
        Israeli Arab was the Hebrew substitute for the utterly unacceptable Palestinian.
        Imagine Jews in the US being called Christian Hebrews .

      • echinococcus on July 25, 2018, 6:08 am

        Imagine Jews in the US being called Christian Hebrews


  2. JimMichie on July 24, 2018, 9:12 am

    Thanks a million times over to Susan Abulhawa for writing this piece and to Mondoweiss for posting it! But this daily reader of Mondoweiss wants to see more of this TRUTH BE TOLD posting on this site, as well as on others. Be assured that I will be forwarding this piece to Zionist publisher A.G. Sulzberger and to all of his Zionist minions at the New York Times, including the Jerusalem bureau and its Zionist propaganda staff. This piece validates what both gentile and true practitioner of Judaism have known all along: Zionist Israel is brutal, racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing, land stealing, fascist and terrorist–and there is absolutely nothing Jewish about it, NOTHING!

    • JimMichie on July 24, 2018, 9:24 am

      As a footnote: I’ll also be forwarding it to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its Zionist assassin snipers on twitter. Thanks again!

  3. echinococcus on July 24, 2018, 9:18 am

    Congratulations to MW for publishing such a clear analysis.
    The only way to refer to this law is as the Nuremberg Law, indeed.

  4. Citizen on July 24, 2018, 9:54 am

    good article will spread it on social media engines

  5. Elizabeth Block on July 24, 2018, 10:06 am

    I know someone who was working in the West Bank – in Ramallah, I think – in 1985. An Israeli official told her that he was going to the US to tour the Indian reservations, “to see how they do it.”
    He also said that their plan for Jerusalem was to make it a Jewish city, with a few Arab “pockets,” “for color.”

    • Maghlawatan on July 24, 2018, 1:17 pm

      Settler colonialism only works by wiping out the local people. The best Israel can do is pauperise them. #Fail

      • genesto on July 24, 2018, 6:39 pm

        Wiping them out may, at some point, also become an option – or, in the Zionist mind, a final solution.

  6. VQTilley on July 24, 2018, 12:57 pm

    Excellent piece, makes a great package with the comments.

    Just one technical point regarding the line: [Israel’s] admission to the United Nations in 1948 was based on its claim to only the 1948 armistice line, which does not include Jerusalem or any other part of the West Bank.”

    Would that this were true. The UNGA resolution recommending Israel’s admission to the UN cited commentary that included recognition that no final boundaries had been set. In those debates, in 1949, the representative of Lebanon, C Malik, objected that: “To admit Israel before it had given up territories which had not been allotted to it by the Assembly’s decision was equivalent to giving it a blank cheque to draw its frontiers wherever it wished. In effect, it meant condoning, by a solemn act of the United Nations, the right of conquest. Moreover, such a decision would be prejudicial to the negotiations on the demarcation of boundaries now in progress under the supervision of the Conciliation Commission.” The Zionist representative had no real answer to this, arguing only that recognizing Israel would facilitate negotiations about such things. See A/AC.24/SR.45 of 5 May 1949.

    At the time, Israel was indeed holding land within the Armistice Line, but this line wasn’t mentioned in either the GA or SC resolutions.

    Also, the comparison to Indian reservations is apt and haunting, but it’s also important to remember that Ariel Sharon made repeated visits to South Africa during his tenure as Housing Minister and, according to South African officials there, consistently asked about the Bantustans. The 1995 Oslo Accord later established terms for the Palestinian Authority that replicated the Bantustan constitutions very closely, right down to the name — in South Africa, “Bantu Self-Government Authorities.”

  7. EUHUGUENIN on July 24, 2018, 4:47 pm

    IDF Chief Says Israel Is Becoming Like Nazi Germany, Refuses to Back Down

    The outgoing IDF chief has doubled down on his highly controversial comments he made comparing modern-day Israel with that of 1930’s Nazi Germany.

  8. Talkback on July 25, 2018, 9:37 am

    Who would have thought? The only theocratic Apartheid Junta in the middle east is not only essentially anti gentile, but also antisemitic regarding conservervative and reform Jews. They don’t want them to be equal.

    “… among the rights mentioned in the Basic Law for Human Dignity and Liberty, which is the most important chapter in the country’s constitution, the right to equality does not appear.

    This was not an omission. It was the result of the need to reach a compromise with the religious parties about the wording of the law. To achieve this compromise, crucial basic rights became casualties, among them the right to equality, of freedom of expression, freedom of religion and also freedom to be free of religion. The religious parties were evidently worried that including the right to equality would dent their monopolistic status over religious affairs in Israel, and would – heaven forfend – demand equal treatment of members of non-Orthodox denominations – Conservative and Reform Judaism.”

    • Mooser on July 25, 2018, 1:45 pm

      “the right to equality would dent their monopolistic status over religious affairs in Israel, and would – heaven forfend – demand equal treatment of members of non-Orthodox denominations – Conservative and Reform Judaism.”

      And destroy the fine Jewish tradition of religious backbiting and intra-religious discrimination? Can’t you see our vaunted ‘tribal unity’ is based on maintaining that tradition?

  9. VQTilley on July 26, 2018, 1:01 pm

    I’d add that, on Palestine stuff, Quora has been heavily taken over by Zionist respondents. If you rely on Quora for anything on the Palestine conflict you’re skating on very thin ice. Plus citing one magazine article isn’t very safe, either.

    It’s my understanding that “Israeli Arab” was the term of art for that population for decades. From reading books by Palestinian citizens of Israel, it seems that “Israeli Arab” as a term was explicitly intended to separate the political character of those citizens from “Palestinians” in the OPT. In other words, it was meant to politically detach Arabs inside 48 from Arabs outside 48 because the latter were considered to belong to one people in continual conflict with the Jewish people for rights in Mandate Palestine and Arabs in Israel were supposed to find their rights in the Jewish state (always impossible, but it was dangled before them as a lure). It was vital for Israel to defuse the fifth column quality of this population. Recently this rhetorical device has come back onto the table as the impossibility of equality has become too glaring. About ten years ago, the agreed term among Palestinians in Israel was the somewhat cumbersome “Palestinian citizens of Israel”. I don’t know where things stand now – anybody know this?

    The UN apartheid study described this compartmentalization as an expression apartheid. Israel’s policy has been to split up Palestinian populations into different “domains” in order to debilitate resistance. I just read Lemkin’s study of Nazi genocide for the first time and found that this tactic was also a tool of the “Axis Power” in Europe. If anyone is interested, there’s a short piece about this on my blog, Unpetrified Opinion. (Hope it’s okay to mention this.)

  10. echinococcus on July 27, 2018, 5:23 pm

    One has to admit, though, that there isn’t even a smidgen of insecurity among the invaders about being indigenous and owning the place: the Ministry of Justice pictured here displays exactly eleven (10+1) Azrael flags on that side only of the building –a government ministry outside of the country even as recognized by its colonial benefactors.

    Beats even the US and Turkey.

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