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
By Hasan Afif El-Hasan | Palestine Chronicle | January 5, 2012
In 1917, Jews constituted 7 percent of the indigenous Palestinian population and owned 1 percent of the land. Britain, as a colonial power and the victor of World War I forced the Palestine Mandate and gave itself the right to grant a homeland to the Jewish people in Palestine in “Balfour Declaration” that facilitated the colonization of the land by foreign Jews.
The 1948 War that led to the creation of Israel over seventy-eight percent of Palestinian territory resulted in the devastation of the Palestinian society. More than 80 percent of the Palestinians who lived in the part of Palestine upon which Israel was established became refugees, their society disintegrated and their lives at the individual, community and national level were changed. The Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem came under the Hashemite regime while those residing in the Gaza Strip came under uncaring Egyptian administration. Then after the 1967 war, Israel brought these regions under its military occupation, and the Palestinians ended as either refugees or under occupation. … 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
- Palestinian home and market attacked by settlers from illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah June 29, 2015
- Israel once again commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean June 29, 2015
- Khader Adnan, an example for all prisoners and Palestinians June 29, 2015
- Shuhada Street 2015: Suffering from Israeli propaganda and ongoing military closure June 29, 2015
- Israeli soldier attempts to arrest Palestinian, activists intervene June 27, 2015
TagsAfghanistan Africa al-Akhbar Al-Manar al-Qaeda American Civil Liberties Union American Israel Public Affairs Committee Argentina Bashar al-Assad Benjamin Netanyahu Brazil Canada Central Intelligence Agency China CIA Colombia Egypt EU European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation France Gaza Germany Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights India Intelligence International Atomic Energy Agency International Solidarity Movement Internet Iran Iraq Iraq War Israel Israeli settlement Japan Jerusalem John Kerry Latin America Lebanon Libya Middle East Military National Security Agency NATO New York Times NSA Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Police Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia South America Syria Turkey UK Ukraine United Nations United States USA Venezuela War Washington Post West Bank Yemen Zionism
Visits Since December 2009
- 2,183,313 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
Recent Aletho News Posts
- Spin Becomes “Fact” in NY Times Gaza Flotilla Story June 30, 2015
- The complementary tactics of Israel and the UNHRC June 30, 2015
- Crunch Time with Iran Let’s push back against Israel’s friends and avoid a war June 30, 2015
- Hindu extremists beat Muslim man in northern India June 30, 2015
- Israel/Jordan negotiate reopening al-Aqsa to non-Muslims June 30, 2015
- Israel considers leaving UN Human Rights Council after Gaza probe – report June 30, 2015
- New Iran deal demands are stumbling blocks but won’t kill deal – Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich June 29, 2015
- If Israel was a democracy, Freedom Flotilla would be allowed to Gaza June 29, 2015
- The Rise and Fall of the Human Terrain System June 29, 2015
- The General Dynamics, Saudi Arabia contract and Canada’s moral regress June 29, 2015
- Honduras Bleeding June 29, 2015
- China, India, Russia largest shareholders in China-led bank June 29, 2015
- Wisconsin Government to Garnish the Wages of Poor People to Fund New Sports Arena June 29, 2015
- The Greek Debt Crisis and Crashing Markets June 29, 2015
- Russia, China Deepen Win-Win June 29, 2015
- Families of detained journalists commence sit-in at syndicate June 29, 2015
- ‘Nonsense': Norway PM lashes out at NATO spending goals June 29, 2015
- Jewish group suggests ‘outing’ of American anti-Israel professors, calls for Israel studies programs June 29, 2015
Looking for something?
Categories"Hope and Change" Aletho News Civil Liberties Corruption Deception Economics Environmentalism Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism False Flag Terrorism Full Spectrum Dominance Illegal Occupation Islamophobia Mainstream Media, Warmongering Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity 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.