This topic came up in another thread, and it was clear that a lot of people are not aware of the tolerance (even approval) of anti-Arab discrimination in Israel. Inasmuch as I've been subjected to television ads recently proclaiming how Israel and America share the same values, I'm going to subject this forum with a discussion of an area where Israel's and America's values differ sharply.
The backbone of Israel's apartheid is discrimination in land use. "Redemption of the Land" (i.e., achieving Jewish control of land in Palestine) has always been a central tenet of Zionism. Today, 93% of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by the Jewish National Fund. All of this land is administered by the Israel Land Administration, which is governed by a board 50% composed of representatives of the Jewish National Fund.
From the Israel Land Administration webpage:
Nominally, the land owned by the state (80% of Israel's land) and the land owned by the JNF (13% of Israel's land) are to be administered according to different rules appropriate to the values of its respective owners, but apparently no such distinction is made in practice, and all of the 93% of the land overseen by the ILA is administered according to JNF rules. The JNF is not an Israeli institution -- it is a Jewish institution -- and its laws call for it to serve the interests of the Jewish people, not Israeli citizens. Thus, all of the state land in Israel is administered with no regard for the interests of non-Jewish citizens of Israel. This means that Arab Israelis cannot get long-term leases on state land.Background
93% of the land in Israel is public domain; that is , either property of the state, the Jewish National Fund (J.N.F) or the Development Authority. The Israel Land Administration (ILA) is the government agency responsible for managing this land which comprises 5,750,000 acres. "Ownership" of real estate in Israel usually means leasing rights from the ILA for 49 or 98 years.
Four cornerstones make up the legal basis of the Israel lands policy:
Basic Law establishing the Israel Lands Administration (1960)
Israel Lands Law (1960)
Israel Lands Administration (1960)
Covenant between the state of Israel and the World Zionist
Organization (Jewish National Fund) (1960)
The Israel Lands Council sets policy. The chairman of the council is the Minister of National Infrastructures. The council is comprised of 24 members; 12 represent government ministries and 12 represent the Jewish National Fund.
The Israeli High Court ruled on March 8, 2000 that it is illegal for state land in Israel to be administered in a discriminatory manner based on religion or nationality. However, this ruling has been ignored -- Israel apparently relies for purposes such as this on a Mandate-era law that provides for ignoring civil law when necessary for 'security' reasons. (I'll make an indirect allusion here to incendiary events in legislative buildings; hope I'm not too vague.)
At this point, I will acknowledge that I am not properly equipped to address the question of discrimination in land use in Israel because I do not speak or read Hebrew -- in the same manner that Yasser Arafat apparently says different things in English and in Arabic, the ILA and the JNF apparently say different things in English and in Hebrew. I cannot, for example, find an English version of the JNF constitution, which allegedly states directly its discriminatory policies. However, there seems to be a markedly different presentation in Hebrew as opposed to in English in the websites of these organizations -- the Hebrew version of the ILA website has about twice as many links as the English version. Probably most of the difference is purely benign, but it is odd. Perhaps someone conversant in Hebrew will offer some translation -- ?
A second aspect of discrimination in Israel is in government spending, which apparently is grossly more favorable to Jews than to Arabs in matters such as education and infrastructure.
A third aspect of discrimination in Israel is in employment. Israel finally made discrimination in employment based on race illegal in 1988, but it seems that the law regarding this is apparently not vigorously enforced.
Underlying all of this is that officially Israel is a 'Jewish state,' and whatever exactly that means, it is hard to imagine that it is a favorable thing for citizens of Israel who are not Jewish. In any case, we can expect people who took the trouble to live in a Jewish state will expect that it will be different somehow from a state that is not a Jewish state. We make look to a Ha'aretz article featured at this site yesterday:
"...why should my grandson have to see a cross when he leaves the house?"