UN special rapporteur on minorities asked to investigate Israel’s “Nation State” law as discriminatory against non-Jewish citizens

Fernand-de-Varennes with Jabareen

Fernand de Varennes (left) Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Moncton seen here with Dr. Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset. De Varennes is the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues. Palestinian members of the Knesset have lodged a formal request to the UN to investigate Israel’s recent “Nation ‘State Law”. Read more.

According to a recent report, The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, has started official proceedings to investigate a complaint against Israel, submitted by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel regarding the recent ‘Nation-State’ law.

The responsibilities of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, among other tasks are:

  • (a) To promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, including through consultations with Governments, taking into account existing international standards and national legislation concerning minorities;
  • (b) To examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective realization of the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

As an Acadian, Dr. de Varennes can also bring personal perspective to the issue of minority rights.

The complaint addressed the discriminatory and racist articles in the ‘Nation-State’ Law. According to the submission, the law violates the principle of equality, granting Jewish citizens superiority against the country’s original population, and creating a state of hierarchy and classification in citizenship.

When reached by telephone in Moncton, Dean de Varennes declined comment on the submission. He said that he plans to meet with the Palestinian complainants in Geneva at regularly scheduled meetings later this fall. He will also meet with representatives of the Israeli government.

In another development. Last week, MK Aida Touma Suleiman from the Joint Arab List met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo in New York to discuss the controversial legislation, which was passed by Knesset last month.

Israel’s Nation State law continues to make waves. To be continued….


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  1. I know Fernand de Varennes personally. He’s an awesome human being. Did a good job on the human rights front with the Court Challenges Program, then as Law Prof in Australia. I was elated when he got appointed to this position. There is hope.

  2. Equal citizenship rights is a democratic right of all peoples in a society that practices fairness, tolerance and respect for human dignity. Will this happen in Israel? As long as the world leaders continue to support Israel’s crimes and its unjust behaviour towards Palestinians, the answer is simple NO. Recognizing equal citizenship means peace-which Israel is not interested in.

      1. It is becoming apparent that a two state solution is the only way to peace. Politically, Israel has become incapable of dealing with this issue in anything other way than seeking total dominance against its Palestinian population. The only solution I can envision is for the UN to treat Israel and Palestine the same way they dealt with the civil war in Cyprus in the fifties. Create a demilitarized zone between the warring groups and maintain it for at least a generation. Canada was part of this effective effort in Cyprus and it took over 30 years, but that is what was necessary. When a conflict has gone on for so long that vengeance appears to be the only course of justice because of what “those people” did to “us”, then a generation has to pass and make room for a generation that has not been victimized by the other side. The only way that will happen is if the world adopts a BDS approach to present day Israel. That worked in South Africa and will force Israel to change its policies too.

      2. Hey KJ, thanks for your comment. But I admit it leaves me perplexed.
        How would a “2 state solution” resolve any of the issues raised by Israel’s “Nation State” bill which legalizes the second class status of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel?
        IN a 2 State deal (2SS) one of the 2 states would be the Jewish State of Israel. So things wouldn’t be any better for the 1.4 million Palestinian Citizens of Israel. Arguably they would be worse, because it would lead to increased Jewish Israeli pressure to force them out of Israel to go to the new “State of Palestine”.
        It isn’t clear to me how a 2SS would led to peace. Please develop your idea a bit more.

      3. Peter, Trump’s prejudiced surrender of Jerusalem has become a key turning point – mostly hate and less hope for Palestinians and Muslims in general. US failed and should not be trusted as a peace negotiator. Will another world power — Europe, Russia, China demonstrate a role to win Palestinian’s confidence back on the peace process, may be.

        Until, Israel changes its policies in a way to make the Palestinians feel that they have a real stake in the Holy City’s future, no deal will lead to peace. Any dishonest bargain will not be acceptable- little hope but more revulsion unfortunately!

      4. Hey Muazzam, What force – internal or external – might make Israel change its policies? As I see it, the Palestinians are basically on their own. They cannot count on the support of Arab countries which are all scared of Israel’s military (rightly) and dependent on financial/diplomatic/military support from the USA for their own tottering dictatorships (e.g. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, etc.). And its clear that the Palestinians themselves are far too weak to force any change on Israel.
        So what are the realistic options – apart from ranting about how unfair it is? (And it is unfair, of course, but how to change that?)

  3. Peter, You ask, “What force – internal or external – might make Israel change its policies?”. The answer lies in the old saying, “First, do no harm”. People often forget how dependent Israel is on foreign aid. It gets billions in direct military aid each year. It gets a huge amount of money from the its so called, “diaspora”, who live in other countries. Israeli scientists have access to research labs (even US military ones) and often work for foreign technology companies (both in Israel and outside). In contrast, we ban charities that try to support Palestinians as terrorists and Palestinian scientists who manage to study abroad are often unable to return.

    If Canada treated Israel’s IDF as the terrorist force that it is, and forbid organizations that support it, it would make a difference. Of course, if the US and other countries joined into an agreement to ban support to Israel, Israel would eventually become more reasonable. The world does not need to act against Israel but it should not be supporting it and keeping it strong.

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