On 4 March 2022, a United Kingdom (UK) based immigration tribunal allowed the appeal of a 22-year-old Haredi Jewish rabbinical student from Israel on the basis that returning him to Israel would subject him to inhuman and degrading treatment by the Israeli authorities. The Tribunal based its findings on the likelihood that the client ‘MF’ would suffer a serious relapse of his mental health condition should the UK authorities return him to Israel. The Tribunal also confirmed that Israel does not permit Haredi Jews and members of the ‘Neturei Karta’ who refuse to undertake national service to live peacefully in Israel, and that ‘MF’ had been violently mistreated by the Israeli authorities after he attended a protest against recruitment into the military service of the Israeli apartheid regime.
Insufficiently, the Tribunal did not proceed to determine the question of what legal consequences would flow if ‘MF’ was conscripted and forced to participate in state action that involved breaches of basic human rights of others, as it concluded that ‘MF’ would be exempt from service due to his Asperger’s syndrome. In so doing, the Tribunal overlooked the voluminous expert evidence that confirmed ‘MF’ would not be automatically exempted and would be persecuted as a military deserter.
That evidence of an existing apartheid regime practiced by the State of Israel against the Palestinian people has only increased since MF’s appeal was heard in October 2021, and now includes reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, as well as the Israeli NGO B’Tselem and Palestinian NGOs Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and BADIL, all of whom explicitly confirm the nature and existence of Israel’s apartheid regime.
The lawyers following the case of ‘MF’ filed an application on MF’s behalf for permission to appeal the decision to the Upper Tribunal which will be invited to make conclusions about the existence of Israeli apartheid that will guide and bind judges in future. The client ‘MF’ said that: “While I welcome the Tribunal’s decision to allow me to remain in the UK, I am saddened that it centred its decision around my mental health rather than the persecutory nature of Zionism.” And added that, “My protesting against the State, my refusal to be conscripted, and the persecution I was subjected to by the Israeli authorities, did not occur in a vacuum and must be viewed through the racist and oppressive structures of the State of Israel. I have instructed my lawyers to lodge an appeal to the Upper Tribunal to consider these aspects of my claim.”
Solicitor Mr. Fahad Ansari, representing the case of ‘MF’ has said that, “the Tribunal has made damning findings about Israel’s maltreatment of its anti-Zionist Haredi Jewish population finding that they are not tolerated or permitted to live peacefully by the Israeli authorities unless they agree to be conscripted.” And added that “the Tribunal in particular recognised that our client was violently beaten for his opposition to being enlisted into the Israeli armed forces.” Additionally, Mr. Ansari elaborated that “while we all are thankful that ‘MF’ no longer faces the prospect of being returned to Israel, in light of our client’s concerns surrounding some of the Tribunal’s reasoning, he has instructed us to apply to the Upper Tribunal to both reassess the prospects of his being conscripted and to make findings about the nature of Israeli apartheid.”
Furthermore, counsel Franck Magennis, representing ‘MF’ included that “I am relieved that ‘MF’ has successfully fought for his right to stay in Britain. This decision means that he will be shielded from the many risks that Israel’s apartheid regime poses to Jews who dare to criticise it.” And added that “however, the Tribunal could and should have gone further in making findings about the risks posed by Israel’s regime of racial domination. Our client is now determined to exercise his right of appeal to a more senior Tribunal, and will invite the judges there to make findings about the harmful and oppressive nature of Israeli apartheid.” Counsel Magennis added that “if successful in his appeal, MF will help to establish a vital and binding legal precedent, one that will assist judges and Home Office decision makers considering whether to grant asylum to the many people, including Palestinians and Jews who refuse to serve in the Israeli military, and who continue to face systematic oppression at the hands of Israeli apartheid.”
Additional information can be found herein below:
- ‘MF’ is represented in his asylum claim by Fahad Ansari at Riverway Law instructing Franck Magennis at Garden Court Chambers. For further comment, please call (020) 3488 4545 or email [email protected]
- The Tribunal has made an anonymity order prohibiting the direct or indirect identification of ‘MF’ or any member of his family.
- The Islamic Human Rights Commission has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for MF’s legal costs. Donations can be made here.
- ‘MF’ relied on expert evidence from Professor Ilan Pappe, Professor Yakov Rabkin and Dr Tom Gilberthorpe as well as a witness statement from Noa Levy, an Israeli lawyer who has significant experience in representing individuals persecuted for resisting conscription to the military.
- Please see media coverage of the case, by MiddleEastEye, Aljazeera, and Haaretz.