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Haifa District Court, Lawsuit 11910-07/10 Halabi v. Ministry of Interior

(Haifa, Israel) On 12 July 2010, Adalah submitted a petition to the Haifa District Court on behalf of Dr. Yakoub Halabi to demand an official certificate to permit him to change his nationality in the Interior Ministry's Population Registry from “Druze” to “Arab.” Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih filed the case.

Dr. Yakoub Halabi is from the village of Isfiya in the north of Israel. He has a PhD in international relations from the University of Denver in the US, and for the last nine years, he has worked as a lecturer in the Political Science Department at the Western Galilee College and in the International Relations Department at the University of Haifa. From 2007-2008, Dr. Halabi worked a guest lecturer at various universities across Canada. He has also published books and articles in the fields of political science and international relations, specializing in political identity.

Dr. Halabi's petition to change his officially-registered nationality from “Druze” to “Arab” resulted from the stark conflict he felt between his Arab national identity – derived from the reality of his daily life and cultural, political and historical background – and the official definition of his nationality as a “Druze national” in the Israeli Population Registry.

In the petition, Adalah argued that the classification of the religious affiliation of the Druze people as a nationality is a fundamental mistake in concept, and does not correspond to the social, political or cultural reality of the Arab Druze community in Israel. As Dr. Halabi stated in his affidavit, which is attached to the petition:

“I was born in a village of Druze, Christians and Muslims. These communities have lived together for hundreds of years, speak the same language, follow the same customs and traditions, and wear the same style of clothing. It is therefore inconceivable that they have different nationalities: religious affiliation alone does not constitute the source the definition of one's nationality.”

In articles published in the Israeli media, Dr. Halabi has criticized the distortion of the Arab identity and self-identification of the Druze community in Israel, and the state's attempts to transform the Druze religion into a nationality, with the support of some of the leaders of the Druze community.

Adalah further argued in the petition that Dr. Halabi has the right to change his nationality as registered in the Population Registry on the basis of his cultural and political views, and that this right is derived from his right to dignity and autonomy as a human being and a citizen. The right of a person to choose his/her national identity on the basis of his/her personal beliefs and conscience is a fundamental right, which the state must respect.

Case citation: Lawsuit 11910-07-10 Halabi v. Ministry of Interior  (Haifa District Court) 

To watch a video of Dr. Halabi speaking about his case in Arabic, see:,1,2.html

The Petition (Hebrew)