The ‘Ad Kan’ Organization recently published a comprehensive research report on the weakening Jewish hold on Israel in general and on the Galilee in particular. They also highlighted a case study on construction in Kfar Vradim in November 2017. The report describes the current situation in the Galilee, wherein many Arab residents looking to upsize their homes are deciding to purchase new homes in Jewish neighborhoods and communities.
The report notes that ‘upsizing’ takes place when a population seeks to improve its quality of life by moving into a community or city able of providing a higher quality of life. In the Galilee, the situation is more complex as upsizing has been taking place not just from Arab villages to Arab or mixed cities like Haifa and Nazareth, but also to Jewish communities and cities like Afula, Carmiel, and Kfar Vradim, which are considered even more desirable.
According to the report, the flight from Arab villages to Jewish communities is occurring because of housing problems and zoning issues within the villages. The report notes that no actions have been taken to address these issues. The lack of homes and properly zoned land has led many of the residents to seek solutions in nearby Jewish communities where they can upsize their home while still remaining close to their families and familiar environment.
The report further stated that anti-Zionist organizations have entered into the vacuum to address housing problems in the Arab sector and encourage movement to Jewish communities. These organizations see in this issue an opportunity to advance their ideological agenda. Such groups, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Sikkui, Adallah, Arabs and Jews Standing Together, and others, all hold a clear agenda of converting Israel from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens.
The research report describes how these organizations, some of which are Arab groups with others being joint Arab-Jewish groups, encourage residents of Arab villages to move to nearby Jewish communities. The organizations provide legal and cultural advice, introductions to the communities, dual-language kindergartens, and other support.
In cases where the entrance of Arab residents into Jewish communities is prevented, as in a tender in Kfar Vradim where over half of the plots were to be awarded to Arabs, the anti-Zionist groups file charges of racial and nationalistic discrimination. The organizations take their petition to the courts, including all the way to the Supreme Court, citing various arguments for why the communities’ decisions were illegal. The changes on the ground have slowly led to legal changes and thus weakened the legal and legislative grounds for strengthening the Jewish connection to the Galilee and the land of Israel as a whole.
Among others, these groups have taken actions leading to the cancellation of a decision providing discharged soldiers with a 90% discount on the purchase of land in the Galilee and the Negev; the filing of the Kadan Case with the Supreme Court- cancelling the ability of the state to provide the Jewish Agency with State Lands and the cancellation of Absorption Committees in small communities; a petition against the sale of homes to Jews in Maalot; a filing to the Supreme Court demanding the cancellation of a plan to build a community in the Negev to strengthen the Jewish presence there; advancing a temporary restraining order freezing new and existing tenders from the Jewish National Fund intended for the Jewish population; the filing of the Rakefet Case with the Supreme Court, which obligated the town of Rakefet to provide an Arab couple with land to build their home despite a decision of the Absorption Committee against giving the couple land; advancing Arab cultural events in Carmiel; protesting against the cancellation of the tender in Kfar Vradim; holding a joint Arab-Jewish meeting against governmental discrimination against the Arab community, and more.
From the report, it becomes quite clear that the goal of these organizations is not simply to solve the housing problem in Arab villages, but rather to enact legislative and legal changes that will fundamentally change the character of Israel and make it into a state of all its citizens. The government response to these moves has led to the end of Absorption Committees in small communities and the weakening of the plan to ‘Judaize the Galilee’, which was a fundamental Zionist goal for decades.
The research report paints a clear picture of the situation- how the legal actions are just the final step in a chain reaction beginning with a failure to deal with housing issues in the Arab sector, which then allowed anti-Zionist organizations to enter the vacuum and use the issue to weaken the Jewish-Zionist character of communities in the Galilee and ultimately of the State of Israel as a whole.
Gilad Ach, Director of Ad Kan, said, “The Zionist movement is standing at a crossroads. For over 120 years we fought to return to the land of Israel and build a Jewish state, yet suddenly we have reached a situation where outside parties and anti-Zionist organizations are attempting to whitewash our identity as a nation and our connection to our land. They are pushing Arab communities into Jewish towns and using legal petitions to implement their agenda. We must wake up.”
Ach said that he hopes that the report will lead to action, “Decision makers must understand that this is a growing trend. We must systematically establish that certain communities have a right to decide who can participate in a tender offer. We see that the other side is acting methodically in setting prices and controlling the tenders. There are no Jews living in Ramallah or Sakhnin and if a Jew did move in, they would embitter his life as we saw in Peki’in. It is time for decision makers to establish whether this is a Jewish state or one of all its citizens.”