Little Green Footballs

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Second-class compensation for second-class citizens

This is represhensible, unlikely to be acknowledged in the wingnutosphere and to sadly all too regular. While I, unlike others wouldn't compare Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa, instances like this don't help. When one group in a nation is treated in a different manner because of their race and their religion in a negative way, you will always draw comparisons to regimes that have utilised racism and segragation. Israel needs not only to secure peace with its neighbours but with its own citizens.

Is a shop owner in Nahariya, who was forced to close his business during the war, entitled to more compensation than the owner of a similar store in Acre or the Haifa bay area, who had to close shop? Are lawyers and accountants who were forced to close their offices in Kiryat Shmona or Ma'alot eligible for higher compensation than that which will be given to their colleagues in Rosh Pina or Safed?

According to the decisions taken by officials in the Finance Ministry during the war, which were approved by the Knesset's Finance committee, the answer to both questions is yes. Since the government refrained from declaring a state of war, a strange and unusual legal situation has emerged, in which differences have arisen in the amount of compensation paid to various owners of businesses that were affected in a similar way.

The gap between the amount of compensation that was granted - stemming from whether the persons in question were designated as belonging to "confrontation line" communities - is well known and has already prompted three petitions to the High Court of Justice on the part of owners of small and medium businesses, who have requested that the situation be rectified. A fourth petition, submitted by attorney Samuel Dahwar from the Arab village of Fassouta in Galilee, reveals the fact that no Arab communities are included on the full-compensation list even though Arab towns and villages were in the range of the Katyushas and were hit by them.


The matter in question is one of "blatant discrimination on a national basis," Dahwar wrote in his petition, in which he requests that the High Court order inclusion of Arab communities in the list of confrontation-line settlements. "Businesses in the Arab villages close to the border with Lebanon will get less compensation simply because they are Arab."
Via Haaretz

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