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Israeli seeks asylum in UK to avoid ‘crime of apartheid’

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, London  

An Israeli man, who fled to the UK in 2017 to avoid military service, continues to fight for his case in the British courts after he was denied asylum in Britain. The 21-year-old rabbinical student, who would like to be known as ‘just a Jew’, is refusing to return to the occupied Palestinian territories because he says he doesn’t want to be complicit in apartheid.

It’s a rare case of a Jewish Israeli seeking asylum in the UK; a conscientious objector fighting deportation. His reason: avoiding war crimes against Palestinians.

The 21-year old rabbinical student, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he’d rather die than be complicit in Israel’s repressive apartheid system in the occupied territories.

Nicknamed a refusenik, like a growing number of other Israeli youth refusing military conscription, he was denied asylum by the British government late last year. A court in Manchester heard his appeal earlier this was but his lawyers say a verdict is yet to come.

For decades, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel were exempt from military service to study in religious schools. But in recent years, there have been forcible conscriptions of students like the asylum seeker in our story.

Rights campaigners say not wanting to be coerced into committing the crime of apartheid is an unprecedented argument for a UK asylum case involving Israel or Palestine but if it wins in the courts, it could impact future cases.

It’ll be weeks before a verdict is issued. But campaigners say, win or lose, the position taken by the Israeli asylum seeker echoes what rights groups have been calling for all along: justice and equality, and an end to Israel’s violent military occupation of Palestinian territories.

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