How Israeli law turned Palestinians into ‘infiltrators’

Sixteen Minutes to Palestine

Displaced from their homes in the mid- to late-1940s, Israel was quick to characterize Palestinians as infiltrators. It is a very cold word, and wherever it is used, know that it serves not only a political objective but a racist ideal as well.

The term in its most derogatory form originated almost simultaneously with the establishment of the state of Israel. The more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes as Jewish Zionist paramilitary forces raided their villages were promptly barred from ever returning. Israel introduced legislation to recategorize them. No longer were they Palestinians. They were absentees. But that was too general. So they became infiltrators.

The year leading up to Israel’s declaration of independence and the decades following it yielded a bizarre sequence of laws and amendments that formalized, brick by brick, Israel’s commitment to racial purity and total ownership of the land. These are the laws.

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