New Bill Targeting Israeli Arabs Is Prejudiced and Unnecessary

New bill aims to preserve communities' 'Jewish purity' by means of willful exclusion that traduces Israel's Basic Laws.

Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz Editorial

This morning, the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will discuss a proposal to amend the law relating to small communities' absorption committees. Ostensibly offering admission candidates a right of appeal, the law would effectively ratify and institutionalize the committees' right to accept candidates according to criteria of "suitability to the community's fundamental outlook, as defined in its regulations," and "social suitability with regard to the community's way of life, spirit and social fabric."

This is an outrageous proposal that crudely attempts to bypass the High Court of Justice's Ka'adan ruling, in which the court ruled that an Arab citizen can buy a house in a Jewish community. The communities are located on public land and offer candidates a high-quality lifestyle for relatively cheap prices, for the purpose of fulfilling the controversial goal of "Judaizing" regions around the country.

In its 2003 ruling, the High Court deemed the absorption committees' classifications of candidates "a grave blow to equality;" yet since then, the communities, whose well-to-do residents are eager only to admit "people like us," have persisted with their admission policies.

Single mothers, physically challenged persons and others who deviate from the communities' conservative norms are rejected on sophistic pretenses. Arab candidates are categorically rejected on the hazy grounds of "unsuitability."

Some residents of the communities are uneasy about these trends.

Now MKs Shai Hermesh, Israel Hasson, Uri Ariel, Moshe Matalon and Yitzhak Vaknin want to enshrine this blatant discrimination in Israeli law.

This is woefully unnecessary litigation: The seventh amendment to the Israel Lands Administration Law, which was recently passed, provides the administration the right to designate restrictions on the sale of land plots in communal villages. It is best that a state authority, that is devoid of local interests and committed to maximal transparency, conduct the admissions process.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that the aim of the proposed law is to preserve the communities' "Jewish purity" (the villages' regulations are formulated in a way that constructs non-Jews as being inappropriate to their "community spirit" ), by means of willful exclusion that traduces Israel's Basic Laws.

Should this atrocious amendment be authorized by the committee, it will join other discriminatory laws that have been accepted recently, and will proffer to the Knesset yet another ignoble stain.



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