Wishing to understand more about the history between the Israelis and Palestinians, I researched books to read. None of the lists I found listed Max Blumenthal’s Goliath. None of the lists also contained books that I believed tried to show the Palestinian side of the story. Frustrated, I asked a friend who knows more about this history than me to suggest some books. One of his suggestions was Goliath.
Reading Goliath I found myself looking up Israeli laws and news stories about different events. The picture painted of Israel by Max Blumenthal was not at all what we are taught to expect. Checking some of the things he covers, convinced me of the soundness of his work and the misunderstanding of reality many Americans have regarding Israel. In order to demonstrate what I’m saying, I will cover some of the laws I learned about from Goliath.
In 1950, Israel adopted the Absentee property Law. The idea behind the law is simple: any property (not just land) vacated by a Palestinian who left to flea war was confiscated by Israel. So, after Palestinians were driven from their land, their legal rights to the land were stripped.
In 1954, Israel passed the Prevention of Infiltration Law. This law made it illegal for Palestinians who were no longer living in Israel to return. If a Palestinian was caught trying to return to their former home, they were arrested. Under the terms of the law, they were denied access to the Israeli court system; instead, Palestinians were subjected to trials put on by soldiers. The law enabled the soldiers acting as prosecutors and judges to suspend with rules of evidence, as long as their reasons for doing so were written down.
In 2012, the Prevention of Infiltration Law was amended to define all irregular border crossers as “infiltrators.” The law gives Israel the right to detain all irregular border crossers (including asylum seekers and their children) for three years or more before deportation. The law also allows Israel to hold certain people indefinitely. Lastly, the law gives authorities the discretion to prosecute irregular border crossers for unlawful entry. Punishing asylum seekers for unlawful entry is a violation of international law.
In 2015, Israel’s highest court held some of the law illegal.
In 2003, Israel adopted a new citizenship law. The new citizenship law, which was extended in 2017, denies any form of citizenship or residency to Palestinians from territory occupied after the war of 1967 who are married to Israeli citizens. In 2007, the law was updated to deny citizenship or residency to people from Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq.
Under Israeli law, being from certain areas means you can never become a citizen or gain any legal residency status in Israel.
Not covered in Goliath but worth noting is the 2018 Nation State Law. The Nation State Law has three main parts:
- It establishes the right to self-determination in Israel as a unique right of the Jewish People.
- Hebrew is now Israel’s official language. Arabic, spoken by the 20 percent of Israel’s population that is Arabic, has been downgraded into a “special status.”
- Jewish settlement is now a national value which the government is mandated to labor and promote.
Under the terms of the Nation State Law, the 20 percent of Israel’s population who are Arab and largely speak Arabic have legally been marginalized. The law also commits the government to constructing settlements on land the international community largely does not recognize as belonging to Israel.
I have covered some of the laws discussed in Goliath because the text of laws is hard to argue against. As the laws demonstrate, Israel is not Democratic. The idea that Israel is America’s Democratic partner in the Middle East is simply false. In my view, Israel is forcing the Palestinians to live under apartheid and America is helping pay the racist bills.