Immigration tribunal allows anti-Zionist Jew to remain in UK

A generic image of an Orthodox Jew

An immigration tribunal has allowed the appeal of a 22-year-old Israeli Haredi (Orthodox) Jewish rabbinical student on the basis that returning him to Israel would result in him being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The Manchester tribunal based its findings on the likelihood that “MF” would suffer a serious and significant relapse of his mental health on return to Israel from which he would not be able to recover.

The Home Office had refused to grant him asylum in 2020. It says all asylum cases are carefully considered based on their individual merits.

The tribunal, which has made an anonymity order prohibiting the direct or indirect identification of MF or any member of his family, also said that:

  •  Israel does not permit Haredi Jews and members of Neturei Karta who refuse to undertake national service to live peacefully in Israel.
  •  MF was violently mistreated by the Israeli authorities after he attended a protest against conscription into Israel’s military.

Although the decision means MF can now safely remain in Britain for a limited period of time (he has not been granted asylum), he believes that in allowing his appeal on the basis of his poor health the tribunal failed to address the persecution he faced and skirted the real reason he opposes conscription.

MF said: “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.

“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 lodged an appeal to the Upper Tribunal to consider these aspects of my claim.”

Many Orthodox Jews refuse to serve in the Israeli army. Editorial credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler

MF is represented in his asylum claim by Fahad Ansari at Riverway Law instructing Franck Magennis at Garden Court Chambers.

Fahad Ansari said: “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. The tribunal in particular recognised that our client was violently beaten for his opposition to being enlisted into the Israeli armed forces.”

“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.”

Franck Magennis, counsel for MF, said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for MF’s legal costs, said: “Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, 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, have all explicitly described Israel as an apartheid regime that systematically carries out human rights abuses against Palestinians…

“MF fled Israel after being beaten, spat on by Israel police officers and also sprayed with skunk water for taking part in anti-Zionist protests. As a conscientious objector he would face arrest, imprisonment and further violence were he to return to Israel and refuse to be conscripted into the country’s armed forces.”

IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh added: “It is astonishing that our asylum system is deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to recognising the systemic abuses of an apartheid regime and continues to miserably fail its victims.”

Israel denies that it practises apartheid and says that those who accuse it of such are antisemites.

You can read more on MF’s case here.

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