Arab and jewish Groups against Discrimination
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Several Jewish and Arab human rights organizations are to jointly petition the High Court of Justice on Sunday morning to dissolve the admissions committees for communal towns in Israel.
The petition is directed against the Israel Lands Administration and the admissions committee of the communities in the Misgav region.
The is being submitted by attorney Suhad Bishara of the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, on behalf of an Israeli Arab couple whose application to live in the communal town of Rakefet was rejected. Joining the petition are the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, the Sephardi Democratic Rainbow, the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights, and Kol Aher BaGalil - A different voice in Galilee.
The petition argues that every Israeli citizen has the right to choose a place of living within the state "with no arbitrary restrictions whatsoever," in any community built on state land.
"The right to choose a place to live is derived from the right to personal autonomy. Thus, any injury to this choice is an injury to the individual’s dignity, equality and freedom and as such contradicts the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom," it states.
This is the first time Jewish and Arab organizations with different missions and disparate target audiences have come together to submit this type of petition. The common factor among all the organizations is their claim that small communal towns make inappropriate use of the right, granted to them by the ILA, to reject as "socially unsuitable" the applications of Israelis seeking to purchase a building lot within their jurisdiction.
According to the High Court petition, social unsuitability is used to turn down members of various groups within Israeli society because they are not "normative in accordance with the perspective of the committee members."
There are 49 communal towns ("yishuvim kehilati’im") in Israel. The petitioners claim that there are almost no Arabs, homosexuals or Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern descent) in these communities, despite a judicial ruling according to which state lands are to be divided in an egalitarian manner.
The petition states that "social status, personal status, political views, sexual orientation, color or ethnic or national origin" cannot be used to reject an application for admission.