Israeli court relies on Jewish Nation-State Law in racist ruling: Municipal funding of school busing not required for Arab kids as it would encourage Arab families to move into ‘Jewish city’

Basing its decision on Article 7 of the law, Israeli magistrate’s court rules Karmiel is ‘Jewish city’ and that Arabic-language schools or funding transport for Arab schoolchildren are liable to alter city’s demographic balance and damage its character.

An Israeli court has used Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law to justify a municipal policy essentially blocking access to schools for Arab children in the northern city of Karmiel. The court implied that facilitating this access would incentivize Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel to move into the city, thus damaging its “Jewish character”.


In the case, the plaintiffs sued the Karmiel Municipality for 25,000 shekels (approximately US$7,500) for transportation expenses for two Arab siblings, a brother and sister, who were forced to travel to a school in a nearby town because there are no Arabic-language schools located in the city.


CLICK HERE to learn more about Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law


In its ruling, Israel’s Krayot Magistrate’s Court hinted that establishing an Arabic-language school in Karmiel, or even funding the transportation of Palestinian Arab children living in the city to schools in surrounding communities, would provide incentives for Arab families to move into Karmiel and that this influx of Arab residents would “alter the demographic balance and damage the city's character”.


In its ruling, the court stated:


“Karmiel is a Jewish city intended to solidify Jewish settlement in the Galilee. The establishment of an Arabic-language school or even the funding of school transportation for Arab students is liable to alter the demographic balance and damage the city's character (currently about six percent of the city’s residents are Arabs). Article 7 of the Basic Law: Israel –The Nation State of the Jewish People states that: ‘The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and will act to encourage it and to promote and to consolidate its establishment’.”


The Israeli court continued:


“The development and establishment of Jewish settlement is a national value enshrined in the Basic Law and is a worthy and prominent consideration in municipal decision-making, including the establishment of schools and the determination of policies relating to the funding of [school] busing [of students] from outside the city.”


Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel commented on the ruling:


"The municipality’s refusal to pay for the transportation costs of hundreds of Arab schoolchildren who live in Karmiel – while there are no Arabic-language schools in the city – clearly violates the children’s fundamental rights to education. This is outrageous. Basing its decision on Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law, the court has ruled that the mandate to preserve the ‘Jewish character’ of Karmiel legitimizes overtly racist and discriminatory policies. This is precisely what Adalah warned would eventually happen when we took legal action against this law. In the name of Jewish settlement as a national value, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel cannot even receive equal municipal services.”


Over the course of the past year, Adalah has demanded that the Karmiel municipality fund school transportation for Arab children and has appealed to the Israeli Education Ministry to widen the map of neighboring communities associated with Karmiel’s school transportation program.


Law with distinct apartheid characteristics 


The Israeli Knesset voted 62 to 55 on 19 July 2018 to approve the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law that constitutionally enshrines Jewish supremacy and the identity of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.


This law – which has distinct apartheid characteristics – guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.


Adalah battles Jewish Nation-State Law in Supreme Court


Less than a month after its legislation, Adalah filed a petition against Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Basic Law to the Israeli Supreme Court.


The petition was submitted 7 August 2018 on behalf of all of the Arab political leadership in Israel – the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Arab Mayors, the Joint List parliamentary faction, and in the name of Adalah – against the Knesset. 


Adalah stressed in its petition that Article 7 of the Jewish Nation-State Law specifies that the State of Israel declares "it is solely for the benefit of the Jews" and therefore must exclude Arabs "in order to promote and encourage Jewish settlement."


Article 7 "marks Arab citizens – wherever they may be – as 'the other' and the state must therefore discriminate in the allocation of land, housing, budgets and incentives, and land planning and zoning," Adalah’s legal team explained in the Supreme Court petition.


Adalah’s lawyers went on to stress that "there is no single constitution in the world today that declares in its laws that it will act to advance the interests of the dominant group, particularly when it concerns public resources such as land."


An Israeli Supreme Court hearing on Adalah’s petition, as well as 14 others, against Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law is slated to be held before an expanded panel of 11 justices on Tuesday, 22 December 2020.


CLICK HERE to learn more about Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law


(Photo: Google Earth)