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Israeli Racism Codified by Law

A renewed Israeli law that has postponed, for the 13th time, the reunion of Israeli-Palestinian families reflects an undemocratic and even racist trend, writes Daoud Kuttab.
An Israeli Holocaust survivor holds a sign calling for social justice for all human beings, during a demonstration in Tel Aviv against racism and the government's policy regarding African migrants on July 28, 2012. Israel's government is planning tough new legislation against migrants, with the cabinet on July 22, approving stiff fines or six months in jail for illegal residents sending money home.  AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH         (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/GettyImages)

The state of Israel prides itself on being a democratic state in which all its citizens are treated equally under the law. Yet a closer examination shows the strange and convoluted ways in which laws are used to defend some clearly racist practices.

A case in point is the practice of denying family-reunification permission to Israelis married to Palestinians. International humanitarian law and the basic law in Israel make it difficult for the Interior Ministry to bar an Israeli from demanding the right to live with his or her spouse. Around the world, laws and regulations protect the sanctity of the family and guarantee its members basic rights, including the right to live together and the granting of necessary permits to be able to do that.

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