Jewish anti-Zionist to plead his case for asylum within the UK

A 21-year-old Jewish anti-Zionist, who fled Israel in 2017, is pleading his case for asylum within the UK.

The listening to, scheduled for September 20 at a First-tier tribunal in Manchester, will deal with his enchantment in opposition to the rejection he obtained in December final 12 months from the UK Home Office.

The rabbinical scholar, who has been granted anonymity order from the courtroom on safety considerations, and his legal professionals imagine his private views, together with his refusal to hitch the Israeli military, would expose him to persecution if he was to return to Israel.

His legal professionals mentioned he may very well be “deemed a deserter and liable to serve a prison sentence of up to 15 years for [military] desertion”.

The scholar has mentioned he vehemently opposes Zionism and Israel’s existence as a result of non secular and political causes – views which might be usually not welcomed by authorities or the broader Zionist Israeli public.

Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews imagine they shouldn’t be permitted to return to the land of Palestine en masse till the approaching of the messiah.

“What the Zionist movement has done is sinful because it has returned Jews to the Holy Land against God’s will and in the process has forcibly displaced the indigenous Palestinian people and stolen their land,” he mentioned in his witness assertion which shall be used as proof for the courtroom’s determination.

“The Zionists have engaged in theft and mass killing to create their Zionist state. They have rebelled against God in the gravest way. I am afraid of being forcibly conscripted into the military which would go against everything that I stand for … the State of Israel practices apartheid and is routinely involved in war crimes against the Palestinian people. I cannot serve in such an immoral army that carries out such atrocities on a daily basis.”

He was arrested and crushed up in 2015, aged 17, by the Israeli police throughout a protest by the Orthodox Jewish group in Jerusalem in opposition to pressured navy conscription.

According to his legal professionals, in the course of the protests and whereas in police custody, the teenager was “handcuffed, pushed to the floor and dragged around by the handcuffs, spat at and beaten with a stick”.

He was additionally sprayed with skunk water – a foul-smelling chemical compound created by the Israeli navy and used for crowd management.

He left for the UK in 2017 on a vacationer visa after receiving a conscription letter and has not returned since, his legal professionals added.

Setting a precedent

The Home Office rejected his preliminary asylum declare on the bottom that he may have prevented navy service on psychological grounds.

But his legal professionals argue the enchantment have to be checked out in a political framework and “it is simply not possible to properly consider our client’s case without addressing apartheid, which is a legal concept codified in the 2002 Rome Statute and the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid”.

His lawyer, Fahad Ansari, informed Al Jazeera that the courtroom should take a look at the case “in the framework of Israel being an apartheid state” and “not in a vacuum”.

“It would be unconscionable for them to say that he should be sent back and be forced to serve in a military that practices apartheid,” mentioned Ansari earlier than including that “protesting against Zionism is so fundamental to his Jewish identity and his political views” that he additionally dangers being persecuted by authorities once more.

Military conscription

By legislation, Israel has made it necessary for its residents to serve within the navy at 18.

Men must serve slightly below three years whereas girls serve two years.

Exemption from the navy may be granted on particular grounds – citing psychological well being issues or claiming pacifism that’s apolitical.

Those who outwardly state their opposition to the occupation as a motive are sentenced to repeated jail phrases till declared unfit to serve by the Israeli military.

While Palestinians and most Orthodox Jews are exempt, in the course of the previous few years a heated debate and clashes with police on the bottom over Haredi conscription have come to the fore as Israel’s secular majority argue the group must be drafted.

In September 2017, Israel’s High Court of Justice struck down the legislation exempting Ultra-Orthodox Jews from service whereas they examine in yeshivas – a Jewish academic institute – saying it might take impact inside a 12 months.

In August 2021, the federal government introduced a compromise proposal surrounding the difficulty, that might allow full exemption for yeshiva college students at 21, however the age would later enhance and nonetheless require them to carry out civic responsibility and two years within the reserves.

The plan would nonetheless have to be mentioned and accredited by the Knesset.

Mass arrests

The Israeli police routinely chase down people within the Orthodox group who dodge navy service and try to conscript them.

Police have additionally routinely used pressure in opposition to them throughout anti-conscription protests, performed mass arrest raids on their properties, and are sometimes uncovered to abuse in custody, in line with reviews.

Describing the state’s angle in direction of the Orthodox group – significantly at protests – navy refuser and rights activist Sahar Vardi mentioned “relative to Jews, it’s the most violence police response we see.”

Vardi informed Al Jazeera that many within the Orthodox group apply a “non-cooperation” methodology with the state, fairly than requesting exemption.

“They ignore the military completely, and become deserters (someone who has been absent for more than 21 days),” mentioned Vardi.

“The standard is they would get sentenced for half the time they deserted.” He added that they’re held in navy jails used for troopers.

The UK-based lawyer Ansari mentioned that “expert evidence confirms that [his client] would not be treated as exempt but as a military deserter because he failed to report for service and left the country.”

Since the coed didn’t participate within the regular recruitment course of for the navy, his legal professionals imagine he can be arrested upon his return, even when he had been eligible for an exemption.

Ansari mentioned a constructive ruling, nevertheless, may set a precedent for future asylum requests from not simply Israeli Jews but in addition Palestinians.

“It would help Palestinian asylum seekers frame their cases in a more accurate way in the future where their suffering is viewed in the context of Israeli apartheid,” he mentioned.

“It’s time the UK judiciary made findings about apartheid in Israel; considering all the evidence, this will be difficult for them to avoid.”


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