Bigotry

— On Thu, 1/14/10, Marilyn Jerry <mideast@jerrylink.com> wrote:

From: Marilyn Jerry <mideast@jerrylink.com>

Subject: [Fwd: Racism by any otrher name …]

To: mideast@jerrylink.com

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 11:07 AM

Haaretz Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No entry for Arabs

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1142319.html

By Avirama Golan

Tags: Israel news

Anyone observing Israel these days – and the hazing to which the Turkish ambassador was subjected is only the latest example – sees the neighborhood bully. Anyone who cares about self-preservation will stay away from this hard-hearted, dull-witted madman whose sole guiding principle is “national honor” – or in other words, sowing strife and dissension that undermines the state’s interests.

Yet this bull-in-a-china-shop behavior toward other countries is dwarfed by the mad frenzy at home. Ever since they were sworn in, the cabinet and Knesset have been competing over which will make life harder for the state’s Arab citizens. And the climax of this frenzy was reached over land.

The land grabs that both the executive and the legislature have been perpetrating are the height of evil and folly. Evil, because all the new laws and reforms are explicitly intended to deny Arabs the self-evident civil right of buying a plot of land and residing on it. And folly, because it seems there isn’t one politician who does not yearn to humiliate and inflame the Arab public.

For one brief moment, financially well-off Arabs deluded themselves into thinking that the land reform would benefit them. After all, the government had decided to open up the real estate market, to liberate lands from the Israel Lands Administration’s governmental clutches and replace this stranglehold with a free market. Therefore, anyone who had a bit of ready cash would be able to buy land anywhere he pleased.

The government undoubtedly found this hilarious. For in the same breath, it decided – via Amendment 7 to the law, passed last August – that of the 13 members of the ILA’s governing council, six would be representatives of the Jewish National Fund. It thereby gave these representatives, who have an interest in preventing Arabs from buying land, the ability to do so. Via this amendment, the government also reserved the right to increase its own representation on the council. And finally, it concluded a land swap with the JNF under which the latter would cede land in high-demand areas in the center of the country (where, despite all the hysterical warnings about “millionaires from the Gulf states taking over Gush Dan,” not a single Arab has even tried to buy). In exchange it would get control over the Negev and the Galilee.

This new arrangement makes an already problematic situation even worse. Those same lands that the state expropriated from Arabs in the past for “public use,” and which were then added to the vast land reserves it controls, are now being privatized, meaning they are being sold to the highest bidder. As long as he’s a Jew, of course. Granted, you won’t find a sign anywhere saying “no entry for Arabs,” but aside from that, all the rules of the Wild West are in force.

But in contrast to those towns, where the local sheriff determined the laws, here the central government is taking care to hermetically seal Jewish communities against Arabs. Thus in December, MKs Shai Hermesh and Israel Hasson (Kadima) succeeded in passing an amendment to the law that enables acceptance committees in “community towns” to reject people “who aren’t suited to the community.”

These are small, homogenous communities, the MKs said disingenuously, not big cities. Have they forgotten how Carmiel succeeded in barring Arabs who sought to buy land in its single-family home district in 2004, or how wealthy Jews in Jaffa closed themselves off behind a fence?

And after all, they said cunningly, it wouldn’t be reasonable for a meat-eater to be accepted into a vegetarian community like Amirim. So, responded MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash), does that mean a Muslim vegetarian would be accepted?

We need to set up community towns for Arabs too, the law’s sponsors said sanctimoniously – knowing full well that since the establishment of the state, not a single new Arab community has been established in the Galilee, and that every Israeli government has shown great efficiency in demolishing every scrap of illegal construction in Arab communities.

In contrast, a proposed amendment to the Israel Lands Administration Law submitted by Arab MKs, which would have mandated “equal allocations to the Arab population,” was voted down. And not for the first time.

The law “is designed to preserve the ability to realize the Zionist dream,” declared Hasson, as if the state did not yet exist. And MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) thinks the law does not go far enough, as it does not “correct” the High Court of Justice’s ruling in the Qadan case – as if the Knesset were an underground fighting against the High Court’s White Paper.

In this way, the Knesset and the cabinet are trampling over the principle of equality and intensifying their battle against the court, which is now the only address left for Arab citizens (Swaid petitioned the High Court against the land reform last week). And in this way, Israel is shutting an entire population group out of the state’s life and turning it into an oppressed, bitter, irredentist community.

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