Protests against Arab families moving into Jewish cities are a reminder that until everyone is free to choose where they want to live, the Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core.
By Suhad Bishara
Jewish residents of the northern Israeli city of Afula protested last week against the sale of a home to an Arab family and the possibility that the city would have a mixed Jewish-Arab population. I have no doubt that every person who believes in freedom and justice will view this protest as an expression of pro-segregation racism reminiscent of South African apartheid.
The protest comes just a few months after Sivan Yehieli, the head of the Kfar Vradim Municipal Council, announced that his pastoral town must maintain its Zionist-Jewish character after 58 Arab citizens won bids to build their homes in the town.
Let’s make one thing clear: 150 protesters are not an aberration in Israel. They were simply expressing overtly the racist segregation upon which Israel’s land regime was founded. This is precisely how military rule over Israel’s Arab citizens – in effect from 1949 until 1966 – functioned: “cleansing” vast swaths of land in order to settle Jews and to ensure reserves of land that would continue to exclusively serve Israeli Jews.
This “cleansing” process was implemented, among other ways, via the construction of hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities, as well as through the establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities.
Yehieli faithfully represents the Israeli planning authorities’ policy aimed at demographically re-engineering the country. He represents an Israeli legal system that refused to allow the implementation of its own decision to allow the internally-displaced Palestinian residents of Iqrit and Bir’im to return to their villages, that gave the green light to the Admissions Committees Law, and that allows the state to uproot the residents of Umm al-Hiran in order to replace them with Jewish citizens – just like during and immediately following the Nakba. And we can expect much more of the same.
It is no coincidence that the proposed nation-state basic law includes a clause that authorizes the state to “allow a community, including those belonging to one religion or nationality, to maintain separate community living.” This proposed basic law will constitutionally and normatively affirm Israel’s policy of segregation. In effect, Arabs’ citizenship will continue to be...Read More