Israeli farmers in Givot Olam, Samaria
Israeli farmers in Givot Olam, Samaria Flash 90

Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) that “screen” potential residents are making a serious mistake, veteran activist Moshe Zar warned Sunday, speaking to Arutz Sheva.

“There must be no ‘acceptance committees’ deciding what type of people can live in the community,” he declared.

He remembered a visit from former President Ezer Weizman. “He told me that if we want people to be tolerant of us, we need to put an end to the screening committees and accept everyone,” he recalled.

Many small towns in Judea and Samaria have acceptance committees which determine whether potential new residents are suitable for the community, based on their lifestyle and on factors such as criminal background. Proponents of the acceptance committees argue that they help small towns maintain a strong sense of community, and help reduce the risk of terrorism and violent crime.

Zar spoke in response to an incident in which a resident of Esh Kodesh, in Samaria, was pushed to leave his community, apparently due to his strong nationalist views.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, is suspected of having pressured the community to exile local man Pinchas Bar-On due to suspicions that he was involved in "price tag" activities vandalizing Arab-owned property.

“I am very strongly opposed to ‘price tag,’” Zar said. “But that doesn’t mean a person should be kicked out.

“The communities in Judea and Samaria need to include everyone, religious and secular… If it weren’t for the acceptance committees, these towns would be much bigger,” he argued.

“If there are people who think in an incorrect way, that’s something that should be dealt with,” he added, apparently referring to “price tag.” However, he said, “there is no justification for forcing them out of the community.”

Zar had harsh words for the Shin Bet, which he accused of “getting involved in petty things and turning friends against friends, instead of dealing with the serious issues.”