Oral statement submitted by Badil Resource Center, on the Human Rights Council

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Sixteenth Session, Item no. 5-Minority Forum

15 March 2011

Oral statement submitted by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status.
Palestinian Minority in Israel endures multifaceted state oppression

Badil wishes to focus on inequalities between the Jewish majority and the Palestinian national minority, comprising 20% of the total population in Israel. The Palestinian minority status under international human rights instruments to which Israel is a State party is that of a national, ethnic, linguistic and religious minority. Despite this status, the Palestinian minority has been systematically denied of minority protection rights in Israel.

Palestinians in Israel suffer from established state political persecution which is illustrated also by criminalization of Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society actors; Mr Ameer Makhoul a leading Palestinian human rights defender and formerly General Director of Ittijah represents a classic example of this policy. He was sentenced in Jan 2011 by an Israeli court in Haifa to nine years imprisonment for spying, while his sentence was denounced by both Amnesty international and The Human Rights Defenders Coalition .

As for land exploitation Badil has already urged the HRC during this session to take urgent steps for halting the repeated forced eviction of Palestinians-Bedouins in the Negev desert .

The Palestinian minority in Israel endures cultural oppression in as much; Israel defines itself as a Jewish state which diminishes the distinctive identity of the Palestinian minority.

The Jewish character of the state of Israel is evident in numerous Israeli laws and discriminates the Palestinian minority on ethnic and religious basis; many laws give recognition to Jewish educational, religious, and cultural institutions, and define their aims strictly in Jewish terms, while no similar protection is afforded to Palestinian institutions.

This discriminative state of affairs is far plainer in school education system; The State Education Law sets educational objectives for state schools that emphasize Jewish history and culture and specifies that the primary objective of education is to preserve the Jewish nature of the state. Students in Arab public schools receive very little instruction on Palestinian or Arab history and culture, and spend more time learning the Torah than the Qur’an or the New Testament.

Additionally, the Palestinian minority has no control over the Arabic textbooks content, only recently the ministry of education issued a report which instructed that references to the word “Nakba” (that is the Palestinian catastrophe) be removed from new Arabic textbooks .
Against this reality, persistence of Israel’s treatment to the Palestinian minority warns the alternation of the Palestinian minority demands from inclusion to exclusion, moreover it’s believed that continuation of Israel’s policy towards its Palestinian citizens will fuel the already subtle situation in the region and alarms a slippery slope to yet, a more violent conflict.

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