Thursday, June 16, 2005

 

Housing Discrimination in Israel

Ha'aretz has an editorial today focusing on the housing discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, especially in the Galilee region.
[T]he 29 community villages of the Misgav Regional Council do not contain even a single Arab resident. Council head Erez Kreisler says that Arabs do not apply, because they know that there is no "cultural infrastructure" for their absorption. It is possible that he is right and that Arabs are reluctant to apply for places in a community village whose other residents are all Jews. But it is more likely that this reluctance stems from a recognition of reality.

Iman and Adel Ka'adan, who petitioned the High Court of Justice in 1995 because the community village of Katzir refused to accept them, are still not living there, even though the court ruled back in 2000 that they must be allowed to do so. Kreisler says that the court approved these communities' admission criteria and he stands by his right to pick and choose new residents, relying on regulations that allow such communities to examine whether residents would be socially suitable. Even if one accepts his argument, it is hard to believe that other Arabs, "socially suited" to life in Misgav's community villages, have not been found by this time.
Not that it should make a difference, but compounding the complicity of the Israeli government is the fact that these communities are built on "public" land (of course, whether or not you are considered a member of the "public" is also a matter of debate in Israel). That the state approved a practice where community council members are empowered to judge an applicant based on whether he or she is "socially suitable" is pretty damning as well. Anybody with a knowledge of U.S. history can easily draw the parallels, I'm sure, to the housing discrimination that continues to face African Americans (as well as Latin Americans and other minorities, though without the historical background).

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