Arab Begins Building Home in Jewish Village

Adel Kaadan, who petitioned the court for the right to buy a plot in Katzir, has begun building his house. Local Jews say this is part of a plot.

Gil Ronen,

Adel Kaadan, an Arab citizen of Israel, has started building a house on the land he bought in Katzir, one of four small Jewish communities in the strategic Wadi Ara region of Israel, which is home to about 3,000 Jews and over 100,000 Arabs. Kaadan successfully petitioned the Supreme Court for the right to build a home on Jewish Agency land in the community of Katzir in 1995.

Kaadan, a native of Baka el Gharbiya, who works as a nurse at Hillel Yafeh hospital in Hadera, became a focus of international media attention after filing the petition. He was portrayed as a victim of Jewish racism and Katzirites who opposed his entry into their community were compared to anti-Black bigots in the USA's South, or worse. The Supreme Court's precedent setting decision in the Katzir-Kaadan case was that the Lands Authority could no longer transfer land to the Jewish Agency because the Jewish Agency (JA) was a "racist body."

It took more than a decade of litigation by Kaadan – who was represented by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel – for the community of Katzir to allocate him a plot of land. He began laying foundations for his home Tuesday.

Kaadan makes a point of stressing that he is only interested in moving to Katzir in order to improve his family's standard of living. He claims that education and sanitation in Baka el-Gharbiyeh are unsatisfactory, while residents of the Jewish community of Katzir enjoy the amenities he wants in his life.

"We want to enter Katzir without politics and without noise," Kaadan told Walla news site Tuesday. He was quoted as saying he is coming to Katzir "to live, not to provoke" and that his impression thus far is that his new Jewish neighbors are glad to accept his family. "The home we want to build will be a house of peace," he says. "The house will serve as proof that Jews and Arabs can live peacefully together, side by side, as good neighbors."

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

However, some residents of Katzir-Harish say Kaadan is not telling the truth regarding his motives. They say that Kaadan's petition to the Supreme Court in 1995 was part of a three-pronged project initiated by extremists in Umm El-Fahm, and apparently masterminded by the head of the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement (and former Mayor of Umm el Fahm), Sheikh Ra’ad Salah. According to intelligence collected by the Katzirites, the
Kaadan... drifts into an anti-Semitic diatribe against Jews who plague the world 'like a cancer.'
Arabs initiated the project, which they dubbed "the conquest of Katzir," as part of the lead-up to the September 2000 riots by Israeli Arabs. The strategic concept behind the initiative, they say, was to stir up Arab nationalism by "invading" Katzir and scoring a major public relations victory against Zionism.

Prong Two of the Katzir Conquest Project, according to the Katzirites, was carried out simultaneously by Dr. Uri Davis, an anti-Zionist Jew who reportedly receives a monthly salary from the Fatah movement. Davis, who has official observer status in the Palestinian National Assembly and was not allowed into Israel before the 1993 Oslo accords, registered to build a home in the part of Katzir which was built on Jewish Agency land (and thus only accepted Jewish buyers). It is not known where the financing for building the home came from.

When he finished building "his" home, Davis publicly announced he was turning ownership over to Fatchi Mahamid, the contractor from Umm el-Fahm who built it. His deal was ruled illegal, however, by Hadera Magistrates' Court Judge Sabri Muchsein (an Arab), who determined it constituted fraud. Davis continues to live in the home. He contends that Katzir is just "a suburb of Umm el-Fahm."

Prong Three was led by an attorney from Umm el-Fahm called Tawfiq Jabareen. Jabareen bought a house in the eastern part of Katzir, which was not built on JA land and thus open to all Israeli citizens, including Arabs. He moved into the home in 1995 and lived there for a year. On Memorial Day for the IDF's fallen soldiers, Jabareen and several Arab friends shot hoops in Katzir's basketball court even as the memorial siren wailed and residents conducted a solemn ceremony nearby. On another occasion, he told one of Katzir's founding residents: "We will evict you from here by democratic means."

At the same time, young couples from Arab villages in Wadi Ara were apparently offered incentives to rent apartments in Katzir. By the year 2000 at least 15 families, as well as some Arab criminal elements, did exactly that.

Jews Counterattack

Some Jews in Katzir mounted a "counterattack," and publicly announced their intention to buy houses in Umm el-Fahm. Land-buyers from Judea and Samaria were enlisted and the project picked up steam. At a certain point, the Arabs who had settled in Katzir left it, and the Jewish "counterattack," too, tapered off. 

In 2000, Kaadan was quoted in an interview with saying things which seemed to belie his claim of good intentions. The following passage is an excerpt from the interview:

“I feel like a prostitute. Israel used me to mount a PR campaign for the outside world so that the world would think it is democratic. But, in fact, it's a racist, militaristic country that takes away people's rights." Later in the same interview, Kaadan refers to Israel as a "Nazi country" with an "apartheid system," and drifts into an anti-Semitic diatribe against Jews who plague the world "like a cancer."

The latest developments may signal that the extremist Arab leadership in Wadi Ara is gearing up to pick a fight with the Jews again – perhaps with the aim of inciting the local populace to rebel again some time in the near future. Whether the Jewish counterattack will also begin again, and the plan to move into homes in Umm el-Fahm materializes, remains to be seen.