What I hope to see in Israel’s housing protests

In the last post on the housing protests sweeping Israel, I discussed the major reason why I find the movement in its current state to be flawed: the only housing policies the protesters seem to be openly demonstrating against are the ones that affect the Jewish Israeli sector of the population rather than the discriminatory governmental policies and procedures that target the minority Arab population. Any alternative or progressive stands that champion Palestinian rights just as staunchly appear to be marginalized and have yet to be recognized as a foundational pillar of the protests.

Plus, people contend that the movement is still young and that it hasn’t yet had time to centralize every possible housing issue, but I do not think this excuses the one-sidedness of the liberals protesting in the street. It has been over two weeks of protesting and the issue of the occupation has yet to be grazed.

So what do I hope to see in Israel’s housing protests? I do not object to Israelis demanding reforms that would lower housing and living expenses but I do object to the fact that the following list of demands are being ignored or set aside to the periphery. The way many demonstrators are pitching it to me, these protests are an opportunity for coalition building, an opportunity to bring down the government’s current “security first, people second” policy and subsequently elevate the minority voices. But I have yet to see any of that happen on a concrete basis, and until I hear these demands making headlines as well, the protests will remain fundamentally flawed, at least in my eyes.

A non-comprehensive list of demands:

1. End all home demolitions.

2. Cease all evictions of Palestinians from their homes, especially when they possess the property deeds or when they provide proof of purchase or rent.

3. Cease all zoning and rezoning policies that, for example, suddenly establish a national park within Arab-dominated population sectors in order to force residents from the area.

4. Denounce all laws and regulations that encourage Israelis to avoid selling or renting property to Arabs and non-Jews.

5. Actively promote free and equal housing opportunities to all.

6. Cease all settlement building and expansion and remove any established settlements in accordance with international humanitarian law.

7. End construction of the barrier wall that splits Palestinian villages and devalues the properties caught on the wrong side.

8. Cease all house raids and refrain from purposefully damaging the structures during these raids.

9. Guarantee that non-Jewish Israelis and residents of Palestinian descent will be treated equally within the law when settling legitimate property disputes.

10. End the occupation, the ultimate requirement for improved housing and living conditions for everyone in the region.

This is not by any means an exhaustive list of demands concerning the conditions facing minorities living in Israel, but these are among the most relevant ones for this specific movement. I think these demands fit perfectly in the public call for housing policy reform.

Sami Kishawi

There is one comment

  1. jksnowdon

    Yep, sounds good to me. Just 3 additions/clarifications:
    1. Many Palestinians are unable to provide proof of title to land, despite having lived & farmed there for generations. This ‘ownership’ is equally as valid.
    2. Revoke IDF power to declare land a ‘military zone’ & expropriate it.
    3. The presumption should be that ‘unoccupied’ or empty land isn’t any such thing & then #3 would apply.

    All this being moot of course! Love your work.

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