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Ayelet Shaked

Far-right Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked—who has called for genocide against the Palestinian people—co-sponsored a new law that effectively bars Palestinian spouses of Israeli Jews from naturalization. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

'Racist' New Israeli Law Bars Naturalization of Palestinian Spouses

"Race- and ethnicity-based laws like this are the hallmarks of apartheid," said U.S. journalist Ryan Grim.

Brett Wilkins

A new law passed Thursday that effectively bans the naturalization of Palestinian spouses of Israeli Jews was condemned by human rights advocates in Israel and around the world, some of whom called it the latest manifestation of an apartheid regime.

"Israeli apartheid is a crime against humanity."

Reut Shaer, a lawyer with the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, told Reuters that the law "comes off as more xenophobic or racist because it's not only giving extra rights and privileges to Jewish people, but also preventing certain basic rights only from the Arab population."

Mossi Raz, an Israeli lawmaker from the social democratic Meretz party, called the new law "racist" and vowed to work to repeal it.

U.S. journalist Ryan Grim tweeted that "race- and ethnicity-based laws like this are the hallmarks of apartheid."

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a Chicago city alderman, tweeted that "Israeli apartheid is a crime against humanity," while calling on the U.S. to "act to end the Israeli apartheid regime."

Supporters of the law—which passed by a vote of 45-15—said it would boost Israel's security while preserving the nation's Jewish character.

"The state of Israel is Jewish and so it will remain," Simcha Rothman, a member of the far-right Religious Zionism party who introduced the legislation. "Today, God willing, Israel's defensive shield will be significantly strengthened."

Interior Minister and law co-sponsor Ayelet Shaked—a member of the right-wing Yamina alliance who has amplified calls for genocide against Palestinians—hailed the vote as a victory for a "Jewish and democratic state" over a "state of all its citizens."

Public polling has consistently shown a majority of Israeli Jews oppose marriage between Arabs and Jewish people. The very prospect of Jewish women dating Arab men has brought seething crowds out into the streets of towns like Bat Yam, where in 2010 one demonstrator asserted that "any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed."

It's not just marriage. Rabbis in dozens of Israeli cities and towns—some of them government employees—have issued religious edicts forbidding Jews from renting homes to Arabs, including Israeli citizens.

Leading Israeli and international human rights groups, as well as prominent international figures including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the late South African human rights icon Desmond Tutu, have accused Israel of perpetrating a system of apartheid.

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