Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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15 Adar II 5760 - March 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
They Also Don't Want to Live with Arabs

by N. Ze'evi

Recently, the Israeli High Court ruled that it is illegal to prevent Arabs from purchasing land in a Jewish settlement. This paved the way for the Ka'aden family from Baqa-el Garbia to approach the Israel Lands Administration regarding the purchase of a plot of land in the Jewish settlement of Katzir.

Adal Ka'adan has been working for 24 years as a certified male-nurse in the Hillel Yaffeh hospital in Hadera. In 1995 he saw an ad for the sale of a plot of land in Katzir for $17,000. When registering he met a few people from the hospital who told him that they happen to like him personally, but Arabs are not accepted on the settlement.

"I figured that it wasn't worth it to waste the $17,000 I had for the plot of land on a lawyer, and turned, instead to the Civil Rights Association," he related. "This issue is related more to my quality of life than to ideology. I live in Baqa-el-Garbia, which is like a ghost town. There is no educational activity there in the afternoon, no sewage system and no normal roads. "Worst of all is its school system," he continued. "As a person who has worked for many years with Jews, I know how much they invest in their educational system for children of kindergarten age. I wanted to live in a place where my daughters would receive a normal education, and would be able to go to swimming in the afternoons."

The Ka'adan couple declared: "We believe that we have opened the door for other Arabs to decide where they want to live, and to state there preferences. There are those who will prefer to purchase a better car, and those like me who want to improve their quality of life. All that we wanted to do is to escape our intolerable life in our village, Baka-al Gerbia, and to find a better place from the point of view of quality of life and education."

Reporters tried to ascertain if additional Arab residents would follow suit, due to the fact that Katzir overlooks Baqa- el-Garbia, where the Ka'adan couple lives.

The secretary of the Baqa-el Gariba council Chi-am Ka'aban says that there are 21,000 residents in the village, most of whom aren't aware of the possibility of purchasing land in neighboring Katzir. "Nonetheless, there are quite a few young people for whom this is an important option," he says. "Here land has run out." He himself isn't interested in moving to Katzir. "My dream is to move to Tel Aviv," he said.

All of these expressions point to a paradoxical trend. The petitioners to the High Court did not seek an economic right for the purchase of real estate. They simply announced that they had decided to make good on their right to live with Jews. They were sick and tired of life in Baqa-el- Garbia, and in their opinion, they could find quality of life and educational system in the Jewish settlement.

The whole question is: should they prefer living in a small Jewish settlement like Katzir, or in a large Jewish city like Tel Aviv? What counts is to live in a Jewish region, and among Jews.

In other words, if a few hundred more Arabs would decide to use the right granted them by the High Court, and would move to Katzir, the Ka'adan couple would want to run away from it, because then it would then remind them of their first place of residence.

In brief: the High Court sharply attacked the claims of the residents of Katzir, who are not interested in living with Arabs, and accepted the claims of the petitioners, who also aren't interested in living among Arabs!

It is interesting to note that the members of the Ka'adan family pointed to the High Court's decision as a "precedent" which would enable them to acclimate into the Jewish community, and to integrate within it.

"We had a feeling that the court would issue such a verdict," they said. "It's a pity that it took so long. If Russian immigrants who come here with a different culture can acclimate, so can we."

Their daughter has her own reasons to be excited. "I am happy that I am about to meet Jewish children and to study with them," she said. "I am certain that I'll be much better off in Katzir than in Baqa-el Garbia. I'll meet children. I'll play with them. I'll learn Hebrew."

The analogy they made regarding the "integration of the Russians" is very meaningful. They are not referring to the Jewish immigration, because it is clear that when Russian Jewish immigrants come to Israel and settle among Jews, they will integrate as best as they can, even if they have been detached from their heritage.

A Jew is a Jew, and Jews from various countries and with different mentalities have always lived together.

These Arabs are surely referring to the non-Jewish immigrants from the countries of the CIS, who assimilate among the Jews in Israel and "integrate" among the Jewish population. This is indeed a serious trend which has now created a precedent regarding the "integration" of Arabs among Jews.

However, on this issue even the claims of the Jewish Agency, which was considered a respondent in the High Court were silenced.

"The acceptance of the petition," warns the Jewish Agency "means putting an end to the settlement enterprise which the Jewish Agency established from the beginning of the century. It constitutes the undermining of its freedom of consolidation and the thwarting of its raison d'etre."

There is no doubt that the raison d'etre of the Jewish Agency is the concern for Jewish settlement in Israel. It is possible to understand the Jewish Agency for being outraged that it is being forced to worry about homes for Arabs on Israeli settlements.

But how can the Jewish Agency fight against this objective, when it serves as the central force in the importing of masses of non-Jews to Israel?

What's the difference between a Provoslavian Christian from the Ukraine and a Shi'ite Moslem from Azrebeijan, or an Arab from Baqa-el Gerbia?

The recent affair, which began as a debate over the sale of a plot of land and which aroused in many the faint feeling of the need to preserve Jewish identity, must be examined from a broader perspective. The residents of Katzir are not happy that Arab children will study with their children and will integrate into society there. But they should be wary, many times over, about the absorption of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom disguise themselves as Jews, study in our schools and integrate into Jewish society, to the point of total assimilation.

It is for that reason that maronan, gedolei Yisroel have instructed us to begin preparing genealogy records that will prevent assimilation.

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