Discrimination against Palestinians

We must all unite against discrimination. Palestinians have equal rights to everybody. No matter where they live or where they are born, they have equal rights, and it is a disgrace that they are denied these rights. Wherever a Palestinian born, he has the same rights as everybody else’s in that country.

The world at large has clamoured to this elemental right to be applied to the Palestinian people. Belatedly, I have decided that I too must be part of this basic movement. Palestinians must receive equal rights, no matter where they are born, no matter if they are in a minority, no matter if they are wanted or not wanted. Palestinians are born equal to their fellow citizens.

Israel is the only country that I can think of that is behaving in the correct manner. Palestinians, as they describe themselves, although I think of them as Israelis, have exactly the same rights as I have. They can do whatever I can do; they can earn as much as I do; they can vote as I do; they can be in the judiciary, and they can even send a president to prison. They can play in our football teams; they can be the captain of that team; they can own team, in short they can do whatever they want. As a fellow worker, an Arab lady pointed out to me in Israel, she is completely free. She cannot be that freedom in any other country in the Middle East.

Where does this not apply, why the article? The answer is very simple: a Palestinian born anywhere except Israel is not equal. In every country in the world, you become a citizen at birth. This is not the case with the Palestinians, wherever they are born, they are not dual citizens, there are only Palestinians. And I protest this is discrimination of the highest order.

In any peace process, we must make peace with the area as a whole. Together with the Palestinians, we must demand equality in all. Our first claim must be the Palestinians wherever they are born accorded with citizenship. Wherever Palestinian was born, he must be accorded with citizenship; he must receive full rights to live a normal life and to express himself fully as any other citizen of that state.

This point is more than esoteric. In any peace process, there will come a point in time when the so-called refugee problem has to be addressed. Palestinians must be given the choice to remain where they were born as full citizens or to consider coming back to Palestine. As an Israeli, I fully accept the Obama delineation which states that any homecoming will be done within the future Palestinian entity. There cannot be any idea, dreams, hopes or misconceptions that the Jewish state can accept five times the number of Muslims than those in Europe — who are struggling with the numbers they have. We can and we will accept gladly all Israelis no matter who they are or what the religion, no matter if they claim themselves to have dual nationality with Palestine. We can live with that. We cannot live with a demographic imbalance that will inevitably destroy us.

It is the time we draw a line under the humbug known as a right of return. It is time that we realised that most will not participate in any ingathering of exiles. That is our experience; why should theirs be different? The reason they do not come is because they wish to stay in the country where they were born. My claim that the time has come to end discrimination is both moral and practical.

When everybody is so concerned about making confidence-building steps that are easy to do, surely this must be the first.

About the Author
Born in Leeds in 1944, Michael Benjamin is a retired Psychiatrist and medical auditor, co-founder of Oranit, aspiring author and inveterate cynic.
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