|High Court Orders Village to Accept Arab Couple|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
Adel Ka'adan by his house in Katzir.
Israel's High Court of Justice has ordered the Jewish village of Rakefet in the Galilee to accept Fatima and Ahmed Zabidat as members of their community and issue them a construction permit to build their home. The court decided that the village's selection committee had been discriminatory in determining that the Zabidats, who are Arabs, were "not suitable' to become residents of the village.
The ruling follows the 2007 High Court decision ordering the Israel Land Administration and Rakefet to set aside land for the couple while the issue of village selection committees was considered. The petition was submitted on behalf of the Zabidats by NIF grantee Adalah: Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Other members of the NIF family who joined the petition were the Arab Center for Alternative Planning; Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights; Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance; Another Voice in the Galilee; and Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow (Hakeshet).
While in this instance Rakefet discriminated against Arabs, the petitioners claim that village selection committees systematically discriminate against a range of minority groups including Mizrachi Jews, LGBTs and single parents.
Fatima and Ahmed Zabidat applied to become residents of Rakefet in 2006 after graduating from the School of Architecture at Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, but were told they were “unsuitable.” In their rejection letter, Fatima was described as "too individualistic" while Ahmed allegedly "lacked interpersonal sophistication."
After hearing the court’s decision allowing them to join the Rakefet community, Fatima Zabidat said she was delighted. "We have no problem handling living in a Jewish community. We just want to live in a tranquil, well developed place."
This latest court order follows the successful petition to the High Court in the late 1990’s by flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf Adel Ka’adan, an Israeli Arab who was refused a home in the Jewish village of Katzir explicitly because he was an Arab. Consequently, minority applicants were labeled “socially unsuitable” to disguise discrimination.