September 27, 2014

Israel's segregation policies include apartheid housing

Global Research - Sami Miaari was looking for a new home for his family when he first made enquiries about moving to Misgav, in Israel’s north, two years ago.

The first step for the lecturer, who works at Tel Aviv University, was to approach the offices of the Misgav Regional Council. There, he thought, he’d find the forms to apply to one of Misgav’s Admissions Committees – the bodies that screen potential new residents of Israel’s small community towns.

But the staff at the office, Miaari told Middle East Eye, said they couldn’t help. He should go, they said, directly to the villages themselves.

Miaari did just that. But at the first village, he was again told that the forms he needed were unavailable. At a second community town, he says, he was directed back to the offices of the regional council. In a third, he found another dead end. The door to the communities of Misgav, it seemed, were barred shut.

Wondering where the problem lay, Miaari asked a Jewish friend for some help. “The admissions offices are lying,” the friend told him. “They don’t want to give you the documents.”

“That’s when I got to the point where I thought: I really need to start legal proceedings against these communities,” Miaari said. He believes he was prevented from living in Misgav because he is Arab – a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Misgav Regional Council did not respond to Middle East Eye’s request for comment on the claims.

Since he was refused, Miaari has been working with Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, to fight his case. They hold that Admissions Committees like the one operating in Misgav discriminate against minorities: people with disabilities, gay people, Mizrahi Jews and, most of all, Arabs. Since 2011, Adalah has petitioned for the cancellation of the Admissions Committees Law, which legitimises these institutions, arguing that its “primary objective” is to “marginalize Arab citizens and prevent them from accessing housing on ‘state land’ in many communities.”

The fight, however, has just been dealt a serious blow: last week, Israel’s Supreme Court voted to uphold the Admissions Committees Law, enshrining the legality of the controversial legislation.

That means that 434 community towns in the Negev and Galilee will continue to screen new arrivals, accepting or rejecting applications to allow them to settle in these small communities. Decisions are made by a committee that includes representatives from the World Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency. The committee bases its choice on a range of criteria, including “suitability to the community’s social life” and the “social and cultural fabric of the town.”

1 comment:

Dave Dalton said...

Segregation is social isolation that supports racial stereotypes. Segregation makes it easier to discriminate in the provision of governmental services.

Segregated housing is a practice African Americans are all too familiar with. American Jewry may recall that they too were excluded from living in many American communities.

A million Palestinians are refugees in their own country. Dispossessed. Living in barb-wire enclosed, over-crowded refugee camps. A dictionary definition of ghetto.

I believe the Israeli government practices extreme segregation. You probably know the word for that . . . .

The Israeli government does not reflect my values, nor the humanitarian values of my Jewish friends and colleagues.