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Sunday, 29 July 2007

The 'right' to discriminate

A new bill in the Knesset seeks to perpetuate discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens.

A fixture in the lives of all children who have ever attended Hebrew school is the blue Jewish National Fund (JNF) pushke (or charity box), into which parents and teachers encouraged us to throw our pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. They taught us to perform a mitzvah by giving tzedakah to support the building of the Jewish homeland. Thus, the Jewish National Fund was the Red Cross of Jewish life, a "mom and apple pie" charity doing nothing but good for our people.

How times change! Last week, the Israeli Knesset passed, on first reading, the Jewish National Fund bill which allows the JNF to refuse to lease land to Arab citizens. The JNF is a quasi-public charity established to raise funds to purchase land for Jewish settlement within Israel. In 1961, the Israeli government transferred 13% of Israeli land to the JNF. Included in this were one million dunams expropriated from Arab residents who fled Israel in 1948. Guardian Comment