Israel’s racial courts: the imprisonment of human rights defender Nuri al-Oqbi
“I think the fact that the defendant is an activist for Bedouin ‘diaspora’ rights only makes it harder for his situation. Because he cannot the on one hand argue that there are rights violations or non-preservation of rights for the group that he belongs to, while on the other hand crudely violating the law time after time.” (Judge Zachary Yemini, Ramle magistrates court)
The crude violation of the law that Judge Zachary Yemini of the Ramle magistrates court refers to in last week’s conviction of Nuri al-Oqbi, the prominent rights activist for the Palestinian community in the Negev and Lod and head of the Association for Support and Defence of Bedouin Rights in Israel, was building and operating a garage without a license in his residential space in Lod.
Nuri began operation of this garage in 1964 at a time when Lod lacked an industrial zone from which he could operate. The judge handed his decision on 27 December 2010, ruling that Nuri’s garage was illegal, its operation being a violation of Article 18 of the Business Licensing Law (1968).
Sixty-eight-year old Nuri, who suffers from a heart condition, was sentenced to serve a seven-month prison sentence in Nitzan jail in Ramle. On his way to prison, to where he was led immediately following the sentence because he could not raise the necessary 30,000 shekels (8,500 US dollars) to stay his sentence by a week, Nuri collapsed and had to be admitted to hospital.
The purpose of penalizing business operations and construction without license can be appreciated. Issuing of licenses is to better guarantee that businesses conform to standards that protect the environment and better ensure public peace, safety and health. However, a more circumspect look at the case would ask who issues licenses and on what grounds.
Generally in Israel, the municipal authority is designated as the licensing authority and the approval of other relevant government ministries is also required. As the Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom reports, in Nuri’s case the Lod municipality’s policy for issuing licenses has varied, with the garage receiving a license in some years and in others not. Nuri is quoted as saying that he had received certification from the police and fire departments, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of the Environment that his garage conformed to all regulations. He asserts that others in his situation who have operated a business in a residential zone have received a license from the municipality and that the Lod municipality’s refusal to issue him with a license stemmed from his critical stance of the municipality’s policies towards Palestinians in the community, particularly the policy of home demolitions. “I am sure that if I had been ready to toe the line dictated by the municipality, I would have had no problem in obtaining a license. Their real problem is not my garage, but my public activity.” The Lod municipality, the body with the authority to issue Nuri a garage licence, is also that body which brought forth the case.
However, discriminatory action towards Palestinian citizens in Lod did not emanate solely from the municipality in Nuri’s case. Judge Zachary’s decision betrays the racism implicit in how the legal system treats the Palestinian Bedouin community.
Although the court had initially hinted that community service in lieu of six months imprisonment was to be Nuri’s sentence, during the sentencing Judge Zachary decided differently. “I think that giving a lesser sentence will convey something of a negative message to the community and to the Bedouin ‘diaspora’ especially [emphasis added]. The negative message is that breaking the law in Israel, and especially violating a court ruling, is worthwhile and a triviality”.
Judge Zachary’s words are telling. He refers to the Bedouin – and this is not uncommon in how the Israeli authorities and legal system refer to the Bedouin community – as “diaspora”, meaning that they come from elsewhere, a characterization which feeds the myth that the Bedouin are squatters and interlopers on government land. This myth is also used to justify the government’s deliberate denial of water and electricity to 83,000 citizens living in the Negev’s unrecognized villages.
Second, the judge decided to imprison Nuri with the specific purpose of sending a message particularly to the Bedouin community, meaning that he sees the community as especially criminally inclined.
Third, as the opening quote states, the judge equates the illegality in the Israeli state’s dispossession, land expropriation, enforcing of military rule, destruction of crops and homes of the Palestinian Bedouin community (as he says Nuri argues) with the illegality of building a garage in a residential zone without licence. This indicates the gravity with which he considers the acts of the state towards the Bedouin population and the seriousness with which he takes civil rights struggles in the Negev. In the decision, there is also chastisement of Nuri’s work as a civil liberties activist, as if fighting for equality and human rights warrants such sanction.
Nuri’s encounters with the legal system are many. He was arrested in February 2010 for an entire week, an incarceration he described as “intolerable … [where] people are treated like animals”. He was charged with 40 criminal counts of invasion, uprooting trees and violations of an order for being present on his family’s historical lands in al-Araqib in the Negev, where the state refuses to recognize his ownership. In the end, the court issued him an “exclusion order”, preventing him from being less than 10 kilometres from his land in al-Araqib without a guarantor.
In addition, in another decision of a magistrate court in June 2010 (which he has appealed) he has been ordered to pay the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) roughly 300,000 shekels (85,000 dollars) for expenses the ILA incurred in demolishing his tent and uprooting his land in al-Araqib!
As these examples show, prompted by the executive, Israeli courts are actively working towards:
- Silencing voices of resistance to official plans and narratives, such as Nuri’s, given the injustices happening to the Palestinian community in Lod
- Issuance of home demolition and evacuation orders to entire villages, as happened in Umm al-Hieran, Atir and al-Araqib, thereby enabling the clearing of entire villages of Bedouin in the Negev
- Construction of a culture and ideology where racist myths about the “Bedouin diaspora” are constructed, affirmed and deployed, such as Bedouin as inclined to criminal activity
- Penalization of activism, human rights and civil liberties struggles and of human rights defenders, such as Nuri al-Oqbi
- Deligitimization of the human rights struggles of the Palestinian community by detracting from the state’s discriminatory policies and instead emphasizing the community’s “crude” illegal activity, such as operating businesses and constructing homes without licence, and not following court orders that call for their demolition.
Nuri has a claim case pending before Justice Dovrat at the Beersheba District Court over five strips of land in al-Araqib and Zahiliqah. Over the length of the case, it is expected that many pertinent issues dealing with Zionist settlement in the Negev and the uprooting and dispossession of Bedouin will be addressed – whether the Negev was indeed terra nullius, whether traditional Bedouin use, occupation and ownership of the land will be recognized by the Israeli courts, if oral histories of Bedouin will count or be trumped by the writings of European explorers and if indeed a gross illegality was committed when the authorities forcibly expelled Nuri’s family and other al-Araqib residents in the summer of 1951 while promising them a return in six months that never happened.
Nuri’s land claims case could be an appropriate opportunity for the Israeli court to live up to its assertion of being an independent arbiter and not an instrument of racial rule, where stratifications of political, economic and social privilege along ethnocratic lines are constructed, maintained and reproduced.
Nasser Victor Rego is a civil and human rights expert and PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada.
1 Comment »
or go to
From the Archives
“We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.” – Former US President Jimmy Carter, presidential campaign, 1976
No clearer demonstration of the mass psychosis afflicting much of humanity can be seen than in the ongoing outrage and horror evoked by the photographs of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body. While it goes without saying that any empathetic being would react with utter revulsion and helpless fury at the fate of this poor little boy, one cannot ignore the vast indifference evident toward the thousands of other needless child deaths that occur daily around the world. For this silent slaughter, we hear: ‘Shit happens’ or ‘What am I supposed to do about it?’
Aylan’s death even touched the stony hearts of corporate media editors … continue
Aletho News Exclusive Content
This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
Also by Aletho News:
September 19, 2011
March 8, 2011
January 2, 2011
October 10, 2010
July 5, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 7, 2010
January 5, 2010
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 4, 2009
May 9, 2009
- Imperial lawlessness & the dirty war in Syria August 26, 2016
- Turkey’s choice between death and malaria August 26, 2016
- A Tale of Two Syrian Boys…only one of whom is supposed to matter August 25, 2016
Tags9/11 Afghanistan Africa AIPAC Al-Manar al-Qaeda American Civil Liberties Union Argentina Benjamin Netanyahu Brazil Canada Central Intelligence Agency China CIA Colombia Cuba Da’esh Egypt EU European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation France Gaza Germany Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Hillary Clinton Honduras Human rights India International Atomic Energy Agency International Solidarity Movement Iran Iraq Iraq War ISIL ISIS Israel Israeli settlement Japan Jerusalem John Kerry Latin America Lebanon Libya Mexico Middle East Military National Security Agency NATO New York Times NSA Obama Pakistan Palestine Police Press TV Qatar Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey UK Ukraine United Nations United States USA Venezuela Washington Post West Bank Yemen Zionism
Brian Harry, Austral… on Saudi Prince Demanded US Groun… rediscover911com on Saudi Prince Demanded US Groun… Brian Harry, Austral… on How I Was Blacklisted at CNN,… Brian Harry, Austral… on On ceasefire anniversary, UN a… Brian Harry, Austral… on Israeli commander threatens to… roberthstiver on Antiwar Coalition responds to… roberthstiver on Lots of Smoke Here, Hilla… roberthstiver on On ceasefire anniversary, UN a… Brian Harry, Austral… on Argentine General and 28 Other… Brian Harry, Austral… on Professor William I. Robinson… Greg Bacon on The Clinton and Powell War Cri… Laskarina on Defiant Celtic fans’ game chan… Brian Harry, Austral… on Spy in the sky: Baltimore poli… Brian Harry, Austral… on Guns sold, guns lost: What Pen… Brian Harry, Austral… on Sanders’ Dubious Our Revolutio…
Visits Since December 2009
- 2,679,600 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
- Saudi Prince Demanded US Ground Troops Remove Bashar al-Assad August 27, 2016
- Russia-India oil deal at risk due to US sanctions – media August 27, 2016
- How I Was Blacklisted at CNN, and How Easily America Goes to War Now August 26, 2016
- Whitewashing Israeli War Crimes, the NYT Turns its Back on Survivors and Critics August 26, 2016
- Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery August 26, 2016
- Israeli commander threatens to ‘disable all youth in the camp’ as 2 Palestinians shot in Duheisha August 26, 2016
- On ceasefire anniversary, UN agencies urge end to Gaza’s ‘de-development spiral’ August 26, 2016
- Bilal Kayed’s strike ends with agreement for his freedom; continued mobilization critical for fellow prisoners August 26, 2016
- Antiwar Coalition responds to attack by Terry Burke published in ‘In These Times’ August 26, 2016
- Lots of Smoke Here, Hillary August 26, 2016
- Negroponte’s Crimes August 26, 2016
- ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders August 26, 2016
- Zarif rejects US claim of Iran arms shipment to Yemen August 26, 2016
- Argentine General and 28 Others Sentenced to Life for Crimes Against Humanity August 26, 2016
- Professor William I. Robinson defending academic freedom and free speech August 25, 2016
- Motive, Means, Opportunity August 25, 2016
- American party in Rio: There’s no sin below the equator August 25, 2016
- Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads August 25, 2016
Looking for something?
Categories"Hope and Change" Aletho News Book Review Civil Liberties Corruption Deception Economics Environmentalism Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism False Flag Terrorism Full Spectrum Dominance Illegal Occupation Islamophobia Mainstream Media, Warmongering Militarism Nuclear Power Science and Pseudo-Science Solidarity and Activism Subjugation - Torture Supremacism, Social Darwinism Timeless or most popular Video War Crimes Wars for Israel
This site is provided as a research and reference tool. Although we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the information and data provided at this site are useful, accurate, and current, we cannot guarantee that the information and data provided here will be error-free. By using this site, you assume all responsibility for and risk arising from your use of and reliance upon the contents of this site.
This site and the information available through it do not, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult your own attorney.
Nothing within this site or linked to by this site constitutes investment advice or medical advice.
Materials accessible from or added to this site by third parties, such as comments posted, are strictly the responsibility of the third party who added such materials or made them accessible and we neither endorse nor undertake to control, monitor, edit or assume responsibility for any such third-party material.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
The word "alleged" is deemed to occur before the word "fraud." Since the rule of law still applies. To peasants, at least.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
This is information for anyone that wishes to challenge our “fair use” of copyrighted material.
If you are a legal copyright holder or a designated agent for such and you believe that content residing on or accessible through our website infringes a copyright and falls outside the boundaries of “Fair Use”, please send a notice of infringement by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will respond and take necessary action immediately.
If notice is given of an alleged copyright violation we will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the material(s) in question.
All 3rd party material posted on this website is copyright the respective owners / authors. Aletho News makes no claim of copyright on such material.
Site infoAletho News
Blog at WordPress.com.