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A racist Jewish state by Haaretz Editor

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Editor's Note:

It appears the press in Israel is more willing to explore
the racist character of its state than the US media.

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A racist Jewish state –by Haaretz Editor

Every day the Knesset has the option of passing laws that 
will advance Israel as a democratic Jewish state or turn 
it into a racist Jewish state. There is a very thin line 
between the two. This week, the line was crossed. If the 
Knesset legal counselor did not consider the bill entitled 
"the Jewish National Fund Law" as sufficiently racist to 
keep it off the agenda, it is hard to imagine what 
legislation she will consider racist. 

In 1995 the Supreme Court rescued the state from callously 
discriminating against its Arab citizens through the Ka'adan
case, which prohibited the Israel Lands Administration from 
discriminating against non-Jews by leasing land through the 
Jewish Agency. Since then the attorney general has stated 
that such discrimination is unacceptable - also when it is 
carried out through the Jewish National Fund. The MKs were 
unable to accept this egalitarian ruling, and on Wednesday 
a large majority of 65 voted in favor of a preliminary 
reading permitting such discrimination. The bill is also 
backed by the head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and 
Justice Committee, MK Menahem Ben-Sasson. 

Any explanation by the supporters of the bill seeking to 
beautify it should be rejected immediately by anyone who 
cares about the country's image. This bill reflects an 
abasement of the Zionist enterprise to lows never imagined 
in the Declaration of Independence. Even though the Jewish 
National Fund purchased the lands for the Jewish people 
in the Diaspora, the State of Israel has already been 
established and these lands must now serve all its 
citizens. 

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For those living for tomorrow and not the past, the aim is 
to create in Israel a healthy, progressive state where the 
needs of the two peoples should concern the leaders and 
legislators. The Jewish National Fund's land policy 
counters the interests of the state and cannot discriminate 
by law against the minority living in Israel. 

The clause in the bill stating that "the leasing of JNF 
lands for the purpose of settling Jews will not be seen as 
unacceptable discrimination," even though it involves 13 
percent of state-controlled lands and allows for further 
expressions of discrimination. For example, the establish-
ment of a university only for Jews on JNF land, or a 
hospital, or a movie theater. 

It is not surprising that MK Uri Ariel, who favors the 
redemption of lands by Jews also beyond the Green Line, 
is the person who initiated the Jewish National Fund bill. 
But the support of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ami Ayalon, Michael 
Eitan, Reuven Rivlin and Shalom Simhon is a very bad omen 
for the future of legislation in Israel. The Ka'adan case 
in the Supreme Court failed to bring about change. The 
power to discriminate was passed on to communities' 
acceptance committees that reject candidates by reverting 
to the clause of "being ill-suited to the community." If 
it was not for the Supreme Court's ruling in the Ka'adan 
case, it would have been possible also to reject non-Jewish 
candidates from Russia. 

The Ka'adan ruling was exceptional in setting red lines, 
allowing a broad range for change, establishing norms and 
preventing the debasement of the rule book. It turns out 
that the Supreme Court is not omnipotent. In an instant, 
a racist Knesset can overturn its rulings. 

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