Aeyal Gross writes: In 2000, the High Court of Justice ruled in the Kadan case that the state must not discriminate in the allocation of state lands, and was thus forbidden to build on its lands communities that exclude Arabs. If the proposed Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People being advanced by coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) passes, this ruling is liable to be overridden.
Elkin’s bill states that the government is permitted to allow members of the same nationality or religion to develop separate communities. Essentially, this means it would be constitutionally valid to allocate separate lands for Jews and Arabs – and separate, as we well know, is never equal. This echoes the justification given in South Africa for their apartheid regimes and separate land allocations. Each group, it was argued then, was entitled to its “separate development.”
Another court ruling that could fall by the wayside requires the municipalities of mixed cities to display dual-language (Hebrew and Arabic) signage. While the proposed basic law speaks of Arabic’s “special” status, Hebrew would be the state’s only official language if the bill passes.
Both these examples demonstrate how the proposed law could bring about a retreat in the realm of equality – although, even now, the situation is far from ideal. [Continue reading…]