Ayelet Shaked, the Minister of Discrimination

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Ayelet Shaked.
Ayelet Shaked.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The institution of admission committees is a dubious mechanism by which cooperative communities (“yishuvim kehilati’im”) and nonmember “expansion” neighborhoods of kibbutzim and moshavim screen prospective residents.

The Admission Committees Law, passed in 2011, restricted the use of such panels to communities in the Negev, Galilee and the Golan Heights with no more than 400 households.

Now, instead of getting rid of this institution, which leaves the door wide open for discrimination, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has decided to extend it to communities of up to 700 families.

This would let such communities enjoy the best of all worlds: to thrive on state-owned land while maintaining their characteristic socioeconomic homogeneity and bequeathing it to future generations. This isn’t communitarianism, but rather privilege.

It’s impossible to separate the interior minister’s drive to expand the admission committees from her ideological commitment to the settlement enterprise.

Inside Israel, de facto if not de jure, such committees allow discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic background.

In the West Bank, only Jewish communities have the right to expand. It’s no accident that in Hebrew, the settlers prefer to call themselves “mityashvim” and not “mitnahelim”; the former implies that they are continuing in the footsteps of the kibbutzim and moshavim, while the latter, more often used term, echoes the illegality of the act.

Shaked’s rhetoric is aimed at entrenching this false narrative. She isn’t ashamed to call a limited attempt to regulate construction in these so-called agricultural communities a “white paper,” after the infamous British document restricting Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel during World War II.

The message is clear: Today too, just like before the state was established, Jews who want to settle in the Land of Israel are being restricted, and whether it’s inside the Green Line or beyond it makes no difference.

Perhaps Shaked is a modern-day incarnation of the fighting undergrounds during the British Mandate. For this reason, she seeks to eliminate the quotas on new construction in moshavim and kibbutzim, and also to include them in a planned reform that would enable homeowners to increase the amount of land they can build on and then divide their home into separate units through a fast-track procedure (TheMarker, December 5).

Communities of hundreds of households, which are no different from any suburb, have no need for the humiliating selection process created by admission committees.

One can also predict what Shaked’s position will be in the not-so-distant future when more communities reach the 700-family ceiling and want to expand again. The system is well known – another dunam, another family that’s “one of us,” fewer “others.”

“To tell the truth, these communities presumably won’t abolish their admission committees,” Shaked said. This, too, is a well-known practice – instead of discrimination being eliminated, it is legalized, generation after generation. Other members of the governing coalition must block this dangerous plan.

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