Israel's Legislation Could Eventually Serve its Enemies
On November 28, 2010, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin prevented members of the Knesset from voting on a controversial law that would enable residential committees to decide whether or not to allow families to live in their towns. According to Haaretz, Rivlin "intervened after receiving negative feedback about the bill from Jewish leaders abroad, Foreign Ministry officials and Israel Democracy Institute fellows." IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer was one of the most vocal opponents of this controversial bill, which would enable neighborhood committees to disqualify prospective residents on the basis of “lack of suitability for the community’s social-cultural fabric” and would thus allow communities to reject applicants due to their race or ethnicity, regardless of existing anti-discrimination laws. Find out more about his position in the Op-Ed and video interview below.
"The liberty of a resident to choose his neighbors is not sacrosanct, especially when it is bound up with the way that the state allocates its economic assets. The proposed law for the amendment of the communal cooperative directive − which enables admissions committees of small communities to reject candidates if they don't meet certain criteria − is a wolf in lamb's clothing.
At first glance, the proposal, which was approved by the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justic Committee, bans these committees from refusing to accept a candidate "exclusively on the basis of race, religion, sex, nationality or physical disability." In actual effect, owing to a formula that allows as criteria for admissions "the lack of a candidate's suitability for the community's social-cultural fabric," the proposal allows for the disqualification of anyone who is not a Zionist, meaning Arabs, and other types of "unsuitable" candidates. In this way, the proposal joins continuing discrimination against the Arab public in the housing sector, as well as a series of proposed laws that seek to harm this population..."