Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Postscript on the Morality of Land-Lease Discrimination

As I tried to make clear in my original post, there may be grounds for restricting land-sales and land-lease on the basis of nationality or ethnicity. My friend, Chaim Gans, a law professor at Tel-Aviv university, has referred me to Joseph Carens' attempt to justify certain illiberal land-lease practices by the Fijians against the Indo-Fijians that are necessary to preserve Fijian culture -- despite the facts that both Fijians and Indo-Fijians are (or should be) considered equal citizens. I hope to learn more about this and deal with it in a future post.

One could also argue that were there to be a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority, then illiberal, discriminatory practices by Israeli Jews against Israeli Palestinians, could be in part justified by similar Palestinian discrimination against Palestinian Jews. This argument has been used to justify the Israeli law of return; in other words, if both sides have the same discrimination in force, separate but equal may not be such a bad idea.

I don't like the argument, but it is worth examining.

What I really don't like is the proposal offered by former minister and MK Amnon Rubinstein that may pick up steam -- it was recently adopted by Ami Ayalon, who is considered (by some, not by me), to be left-leaning. That proposal is for the JNF to return to the government the land it bought from the Israeli government in the early years of the state, and the land that is left, i.e., the land that was purchased by diaspora Jews (if any of that is still available) can be used for projects of "national interest," like housing for married IDF veterans, etc. (In other words, only for Israeli Jews and Druze and the ultra-orthodox, even though they do not serve in the IDF.)

This seems to me to be just another way of avoiding open housing and recognizing the needs of Israeli Palestinians

I have another proposal. Let the JNF make available vast tracts of its land for the expansion of Israeli Palestinian towns and villlages. Let new Israeli Palestinian towns and villages be built with the money of Jews from around the world, and with that of the Israeli government. At the very least, the land that was "bought" against the will of its Palestinian owners in 1948 should be made available for Israeli projects for Palestinians within Israel -- and if that land is not available, then comparable land should be made available.

I know, I know...let's see how far that proposal goes....

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