About 150 residents of the northern city of Afula demonstrated on Wednesday afternoon against the sale of a house to an Arab family. Protesters waved Israeli flags and carried signs condemning the sale and the homeowners who sold their house to Arabs, one of which read: “Traitors against the Jews will get no rest.”
Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz and Deputy Mayor Shlomo Malihi participated in the protest. Elkabetz said that “the residents of Afula don’t want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it’s their right. This is not racism.” Malihi added: “I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won’t begin to be mixed. We do not have admittance committees like in the towns and kibbutzim around us, but we will not allow the character of the city to change.”
Protesters raised Israeli flags and shouted slogans against the sale of the house in the city’s Yizrael neighborhood. Chairman of Joint Arab List Ayman Odeh wrote in response to the protest: “It is not a surprise that in a country that has founded 700 towns for Jews and not even one for Arabs, the idea that Arabs should be pushed aside does not shock citizens. And still, it is more than a little worrying to see how our hope for living together is crumbling due to hatred and racism fueled by the government.” Member of Knesset Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) added that “racism ethnic superiority have become a legitimate reality under this right-wing government. This protest should rock the political system and keep up at night all those who care about equality and human dignity.”
A notice calling on residents to turn out for the demonstration made reference to “the sale of homes to those who are undesirable in the neighborhood” and went on to say: “One transaction has already been carried out and everything needs to be done to cancel it and to put a stop to this phenomenon from the beginning. Friends, now is the time to come together. All Jews are responsible for one another! Today it’s us, tomorrow, it’s you.”
In response to the Afula protest, the Coalition Against Racism organization called for a halt to efforts by “those inciting the public against the possibility of living together.” The phenomenon will not stop without “clear responses by courageous public figures and political leaders,” the organization said, adding: “Now is the time for the voice of the sane majority in Afula, both politicians and the wider public, to be heard.”
About two years ago, Afula residents held a number of demonstrations objecting to a bidding process for lots in a residential neighborhood of the city in which all 43 successful bidders were Arab. Approval of the bids was rescinded by the Nazareth District Court after the court found that some of the successful bidders had engaged in improper coordination of their bids and that the minimum bid provisions were vague and misleading.
Half of Jewish Israelis say they wouldn’t want an Arab as a neighbor. In March, Kfar Vradim’s local council head Sivan Yehieli ordered to halt bids for selling building plots of land in his community, after 50 percent of the winners so far turned out to be Arabs. In a letter he disseminated among the community’s residents he promised that “no more land would be sold until an appropriate solution was found to ensure our ability to maintain our communal life and the special character of Kfar Vradim.”
The so-called nation-state bill passed the first of three Knesset calls in May in a a version that has a clause allowing the establishment of communities for Jews only. Clause 7b of this bill specifically states that “the state can allow a community composed of people of the same faith or nationality to maintain an exclusive community.