December 29, 2015


Israel's Virulent Housing Bias Runs Deep -- and It's Not Only Aimed at Arabs (Naomi Zeveloff, December 29, 2015, Forward)

[T]he Sharary family is at the center of a local controversy with national proportions. One of dozens of Arab families from northern Israel that won tenders to build 49 homes in Afula Illit, the Shararys and their fellow Arab bidders face the fury of many of their potential Jewish neighbors.

Days after the tender process results were made public, a group of about 200 Afula residents staged a protest, calling on Mayor Yitzhak Meron to revoke the tenders. Demonstrators denounced him as a "traitor" and a "terrorist," according to press reports. "He wants to build a mosque," one sign at the protest read.

The Afula episode is only the latest real estate controversy with a racial tinge in Israel. According to the Walla news site, Jewish residents of Ofakim, a city west of Beersheba, won tenders to build in the city but canceled the transaction once they learned that 14 Bedouin residents were planning on settling in the same area.

And in November, the Bemuna construction company posted a video advertisement of an Ashkenazi family whose Hanukkah celebration was interrupted by Mizrahi neighbors -- Jews of Arab origin -- depicted as raucously ignorant of their Ashkenazi holiday traditions. The video, which the company later deleted, was an advertisement for a new housing development in Kiryat Gat that presumably would be free of Mizrahim. "Do you dream of owning your own home?" the voiceover said. "Want neighbors after your own heart?" [...]

These incidents and others in recent years speak to the deep segregation in Israel. With a few exceptions, like Haifa and Jaffa, Israel is a country split along ethnic and religious lines, with different school systems and population centers for each group.

Posted by at December 29, 2015 4:39 PM