In a landmark case, an Israeli man is requesting UK asylum, saying he’ll be made to participate in ‘apartheid’ if he returns

A row of IDF soldiers and an artillery unit near Israel's border with Gaza.
Israeli soldiers of an artillery unit gather near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on its Israeli side May 14, 2021 Amir Cohen/Reuters
  • An Israeli student seeking asylum in the UK says he’ll be made to commit ‘apartheid’ in Israel.
  • The man, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, fled Israel after being ordered to join the army, reports say.
  • The UK’s Home Office rejected his case last year, but an appeal is scheduled for Monday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An Israeli Jewish student is seeking asylum in the UK on the grounds that returning to Israel would result in him participating in “apartheid,” according to multiple reports.

The 21-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbinical student is appealing a previous asylum claim rejected in December last year, according to Middle East Eye (MEE). The case, in which he has been granted anonymity, will be freshly considered Monday in a Manchester court, court documents seen by Insider show.

The student’s lawyer, Fahad Ansari of Riverway Law, says he fled Israel in 2017 after he received orders to join the military, MEE reported. According to The New Arab, the student has Asperger’s Syndrome.

According to Al-Jazeera, the student said he strongly opposes Zionism and Israel’s existence, citing both political and religious arguments. The view strongly departs from Israel’s political mainstream.

“Our client is attempting to prove his case in the context of Israel operating as an apartheid state,” Ansari told MEE.

The student also fears imprisonment as a deserter, as well as reprisal for his political views, if he returns to Israel, Al-Jazeera reported.

This year, prominent human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Israeli nonprofit B’Tselem have said that Israel’s policies towards Palestinians compared with Israeli Jews, and its occupation of the West Bank, amount to apartheid.

The accusation drew a sharp rebuke from Israel’s foreign ministry, which called HRW’s statements “fictional” with “no connection to facts or reality on the ground,” The Guardian reported at the time.

Conscientious objectors in Israel are not uncommon, but it is the first time the UK has handled an Israeli asylum case on this basis, according to MEE. Any precedent set could have influence over future cases.

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis were exempt from military service until February this year, after decades of efforts to overturn the exemption, according to The Times of Israel. Fahad told MEE that there have been forcible conscriptions of students like his client during this time.

The UK’s Home Office, which handles asylum claims, was not immediately available for comment at time of publication, but told MEE that as it is an ongoing legal case it would “not be appropriate” to comment further.