By Gal Sitty
Tomorrow, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. This is a day that among other things, should celebrate all of Israel’s impressive contributions to world peace and advancing human rights. As such, let’s take a look at Israel’s impressive record on human rights.
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. All of its citizens can vote and hold office. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press are all inscribed into law and are actually practiced and upheld. Further, Israel’s strong and independent judiciary with its world renown Superior Court, which includes the World’s only female chief justice, ensures that the law is upheld.
Israel has taken in refugees from troubled regions in Africa such as Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Many African refugees risk their lives attempting the thousand mile trek through the deserts of Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Sinai Peninsula to get to a better life in Israel. Many others attempted to reach Israel but did not make it because of Bedouin human traffickers in Sinai, Egyptian border guards who shoot at the refugees or other such reasons. The refugees who make it to Israel are given official refugee status meaning they can work and make a living. The State of Israel expends its own resources to teach and train them how to integrate into a modern society.
Gay rights in Israel are considered to be the most developed in the Middle East. Israel is home to the only open gay community in the region. Tel-Aviv and other Israeli cities host gay pride parades, same-sex marriages are recognized in Israel and openly gay soldiers can serve in the military. Israeli law and court rulings ensure protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Israel’s one and half million Arab residents enjoy more rights than their brethren in any Arab country. Israeli Arabs enjoy all the rights that any other citizen of Israel enjoys. Unlike their neighbors in Syria and other nearby countries, Israeli Arabs are free to peaceably protest against the state or its policies and have done so many times without being violently oppressed. Israeli Arab’s run large successful business, they serve in the Israeli parliament and the Prime Minister’s cabinet, and are well represented throughout the court system including by the Arab Superior Court Justice Salim Joubran.
Israel’s commitment to uphold, enshrine and promote human rights for all is made all the more impressive when factoring in the unprecedented security challenges Israel faces on a daily basis. Despite being constantly attacked and threatened Israel maintains its stellar record. Under threat of violence, many countries erode their human rights record, Israel does just the opposite.