between Arabs and Israeli Jews when it comes to planning laws. Except that in practice Jewish towns receive
planning permission when they need to expand and Arab towns don’t. In fact there has not been one example of a
new Arab town in Israel since its foundation in 1948. In that time the Israeli Palestinian population
has increased 10 fold to 1.5 million.
|Two of the Arab bidders in Afula|
the Judaification of Israel that Arabs are not allowed to move into Jewish towns,
hence the decision by an Israeli Jews to prevent Arabs building their own homes
in a ‘Jewish’ town. Yes most towns and
villages in Israel are segregated too.
which means they receive no normal facilities such as electricity, running
water, sewerage etc. and in addition are liable to instant demolition.
American Jewish publication Forward. A group of Arab bidders have been refused
permission to build homes by a Nazareth court on technical grounds. The fact that Israeli Jews attacked the
original decision of the Mayor to grant permission, saying he was a ‘terrorist’
and a ‘traitor’ gives you a flavour of the nature of the objections.
of Arab families who were planning to build homes in the Jewish city of Afula
have lost their leases to the land after an Israeli judge said that they
illegally coordinated their bids.
|The rubble of three houses of the Assaf family hours after they were demolished by the Israeli authorities, on April 15, 2015. Dahmash, located between Lod and Ramle, is the only unrecognized village in central Israel. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org|
November, hundreds of Jewish residents of Afula protested the prospect of Arab neighbors after Arab families
won tenders to build 47 houses in the northern Israeli city. Demonstrators
demanded Afula mayor Yitzhak Meron revoke the tenders, calling him a “traitor” and a “terrorist.” Likewise the
comment of the Jewish bidders legal representative, Itai Cohen, who celebrated
the decision of the Nazareth Court by saying that ‘“This is a day of celebration for Afula, and particularly for those who
were concerned about the the fate of the city’s Jewish makeup.”
group of Jewish families who bid and lost tenders for the land first complained
to the Israel Land Authority, contending that the Arab bidders had been in coordination
with one another. The ILA rejected the complaint saying that it was natural for
bidders with personal connections to exchange information, said Haaretz.
Jewish families then took their petition to a Nazareth court.
Sunday April 24, a Nazareth judge ruled in favor of the Jewish families. He
said that the Arab families had organized their bids so they weren’t competing
against each other and coordinated prices in a manner that “upset the market’s natural balance,”
according to Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper.
coordination “seriously harmed the
principle of equality, a principle that is at the foundation of tender law,”
the judge said.
Cohen, a representative of the Jewish families told Maariv: “This is a day of celebration for Afula, and
particularly for those who were concerned about the the fate of the city’s
to Abdullah Zoabi, a lawyer representing four Arab families, the judge did not
rule that the Arab families were disqualified from trying to bid on the land
again. Abdullah said he was waiting to learn whether the state would intervene
and limit the bidding to Afula’s Jewish residents.
lawmakers are calling foul on the Nazareth court, saying the decision was
driven by racism. Knesset Member Basel Ghattas told Maariv that the court’s
decision reflected the “spirit of racism
that has been sweeping the country. These state institutions have always used
planning and construction laws to deprive Arabs of their lands and rights, and
the Nazareth District Court’s decision gave a seal of approval to a petition
that was lodged exclusively out of racist motives.”
Nazareth judge invalidated the entire group of tenders, saying that the entire
bidding process was “defective” and
there was no way to exempt those who did not coordinate. Zoabi’s four clients
were found not to have coordinated, but they lost their right to build anyway.
He said he that the four families will appeal the decision to the Israeli High
Sharary told the Forward she was extremely disappointed to learn that the
Nazareth judge disqualified her family building in Afula. She wanted to lease
the land in Afula for her sons and their families, since land is at a premium
in Yafia, the village where they grew up. She believes that the judge’s
decision was racially motivated.
she said. “If this is not racism, so what
said that she and her husband, Riad Sharary, did not coordinate their bid and
that she had no idea who the other Arab bidders were. Now, she is looking for a
new place for her sons to settle down.
are other places that are much less aggressive and much less humiliating and
much less threatening.”
Zeveloff is the Forward’s Middle East correspondent. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff
west of Nazareth, Iman Sharary, 53, pointed to a plot of land in the distance
where her sons will build their homes.
at a premium in the village, she and her husband sought and won the tender to
build in a less expensive area. Afula Illit is a tree-lined suburb about 10
miles south of Yafia. It’s also predominantly Jewish.
with national proportions. One of dozens of Arab families from northern Israel
that won tenders to build 49 homes in Afula Illit, the Shararys and their fellow
Arab bidders face the fury of many of their potential Jewish neighbors.
about 200 Afula residents staged a protest, calling on Mayor Yitzhak Meron to
revoke the tenders. Demonstrators denounced him as a “traitor” and a
“terrorist,” according to press reports. “He wants to build a mosque,” one sign
at the protest read.
a racial tinge in Israel. According to the Walla news site, Jewish residents of
Ofakim, a city west of Beersheba, won tenders to build in the city but canceled
the transaction once they learned that 14 Bedouin residents were planning on
settling in the same area.
|Naomi Zeveloff: Not in My City: Adeil Eluz, a gas station manager in Afula, is protesting against the prospect of Arabs moving in nearby.|
And in November, the Bemuna construction
company posted a video advertisement of an Ashkenazi family whose Hanukkah
celebration was interrupted by Mizrahi neighbors — Jews of Arab origin —
depicted as raucously ignorant of their Ashkenazi holiday traditions. The
video, which the company later deleted, was an advertisement for a new housing
development in Kiryat Gat that presumably would be free of Mizrahim. “Do you
dream of owning your own home?” the voiceover said. “Want neighbors after your
Authority to look into the charge of racial discrimination at Bemuna in the
sale of the apartments.
segregation in Israel. With a few exceptions, like Haifa and Jaffa, Israel is a
country split along ethnic and religious lines, with different school systems
and population centers for each group. Officially speaking, “there is no legal
basis in creating the segregation” when it comes to housing inside the Green
Line, said Talya Steiner, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute. “It
just kind of evolved.”
But the High Court has sanctioned such segregation in recent years by allowing
Bemuna, the company with the anti-Mizrachi advertisement, to build housing
explicitly marketed to Orthodox, so-called “national religious” Jews, who are
predominantly Ashkenazi, in an Arab section of Jaffa.
helps to deepen inequality between sectors. One has to do with the
ultra-Orthodox. Because Haredim, as they are known in Hebrew, have larger
families and educate their children in sex-segregated schools, the Housing
Ministry acknowledges and supports their need for separate neighborhoods to
maintain their lifestyle. Yet the Housing Ministry ran up against “not in my
backyard” attitudes from several municipalities when it tried to plan Haredi
neighborhoods in cities with secular and national religious majorities. Now
there is a major housing shortage for ultra-Orthodox Israelis.
communities in Israel, such as kibbutzim or moshavim. These communities may
screen new members based on standards such as “unsuitability to the community’s
social life” or its “social-cultural fabric,” or to “unique characteristics of
the community as defined in its bylaws,” according to a law upheld by the high court
in 2014. Critics say this is actually code language to weed out Arabs,
homosexuals or anyone outside the community norm.
suffer from a lack of planning, which exacerbates the housing shortage in these
areas. In 2000, after 13 Arab citizens were killed in demonstrations at the
start of the second intifada, a state commission found that inequality between
the Jewish and Arab sectors in the realms of planning and building was a
central cause of the unrest. The commission recommended new plans for Arab
localities. But according to a 2012 report by Bimkom, a planning rights
organization, planning in Arab cities still lags far behind that in Jewish
areas, leading to “housing crises and lack of public buildings for services.”
that some Arabs are moving out of their home communities and into Jewish towns.
As Sharary said of her family’s purchase in Afula, “Arabs need it very much.”
said. “There is a socioeconomic development pushing young Arab couples to leave
Arab cities and find quality of life in adjacent neighborhoods.”
family of accountants — come from sturdier economic backgrounds than the Jews
who are now protesting their presence in the city.
Rachelle Alterman, a planning expert at Israel’s Technion. “We are talking
about an upwardly mobile, upper-middle income, or certainly a higher-educated
Arab population in Afula, which is lower-middle income Jewish. There is this
new neighbors loud and clear. One anonymous activist posted a photo of Meron
wrapped in a keffiyeh, the Palestinian national scarf, on Facebook. Right-wing
activists mocked up similar images of Yitzhak Rabin before his murder, and
also, more recently, of President Reuven Rivlin for his outreach to Arab
citizens. According to a report on the Israeli website Mynet, the police are
investigating the picture’s provenance.
Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant of the center-right Kulanu party.
Issawi Frej, an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset, called for his firing.
and not promote it,” he said.
“unable to and should not intervene” in the tender process. Because the land in
question is state owned, any citizen — regardless of race, religion or gender —
may participate in the auction, which is held by the ILA.
“according to the rules.”
station in Afula, said that the tender should have first been open to locals in
Afula and then to people who have served in the army — a move that would
exclude most Arab Israelis, who are not drafted into the army.
“It’s not against the Arab people,” he
said. “It’s against the priority of the
mayor and his councilors to give land to outside people instead of local
the auction, as well as other Afula residents, is less guarded in his
Jewish character of the city,” he said. “And if we take in
50 [Arabs] in this little place, this will change the place from one side to
the other.” Afula’s total population is 41,000 residents.
their bids, which would run afoul of the ILA process.
organization brought money to buy the Jewish land,” he said. “We want the police to check it.” The
mayor’s office said it would look into the allegations.
uproar hasn’t prompted her family to reconsider their bid. “It’s a good opportunity to make Afula another mixed town,” she