When Boris and Larisa Pozievilki immigrated to Israel in October 2002, they viewed their arrival as an expression of commitment to the State of Israel.
Neither would have dreamed that, a year after their arrival, state authorities would demand that they sign a declaration of loyalty to Israel. (Boris Pozievilki is Jewish, his wife is not.) The demand was not being made because one of the Pozievilkis, well-off business people in their 50s, was asking to work in a sensitive security position. Instead, the couple merely sought to purchase an apartment in Jerusalem.
The apartment is in the "David's Village" project in Jerusalem's Mamilla area, across from the Citadel of David and the walls of the Old City. The residential project, one of the city's most exclusive housing complexes, is sponsored by Carta, the company for the development of central Jerusalem. Most home purchasers in David's Village live abroad a large part of the time, coming to Jerusalem a few times a year.
Much to their surprise, as part of the purchase process in David's Village, the Pozievilkis received a document demanding that they affirm their loyalty to the State of Israel, and testify that they are not citizens of an enemy state.
This affirmation was not formulated specifically for the Pozievilkis; each home purchaser in the project is asked to sign the document. But, in the case of this new immigrant couple, the affidavit request struck a nerve, owing perhaps to the type of regime they knew in the old Soviet Union.
The Pozievilkis hired attorney Yonatan Livni, who has corresponded extensively about the loyalty attestation. Writing for his client, Livni declared: "This demand [to sign the loyalty document] is an outrage; that a democratic state would ask a citizen to affirm that he `is not a hostile element' is insufferable."
Addressing Carta, the attorney wrote: "In my opinion, your demand constitutes a grave violation of a person's right to purchase an apartment in the State of Israel - it is inconceivable that someone who lives in the state, who immigrated to it under the terms of the Law of Return, might be asked to prove that he is not a subversive."
Speaking with Haaretz, Livni expressed his clients' anger and frustration regarding the document. "This was a customary practice in fascist and communist regimes," he said. "After the fall of such regimes, it is only the State of Israel that demands that its citizens sign a loyalty paper in order to purchase an apartment."
Michal Rabinowitz, a counsel for Carta, objected to this line of reasoning. "I would be proud to sign such an attestation," she said. "We are a company entrusted with responsibility for a national project that connects East and West Jerusalem in an extremely sensitive area, and so it is important that someone who purchases an apartment in this project does not number among the state's enemies."
As consideration of legal aspects of the Pozievilkis' complaint ensues, Livni has received an identical complaint: an apartment purchaser in David's Village, a Jewish man from New York, refuses to sign the document.
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