Yasmeen and Faris both come from the small Arab village of Muawiya in central Israel. They planned to get married and had hopes of building their own home, in the Palestinian tradition. After many years of waiting, they were thrilled to hear that the authorities had finally approved a housing plan for the village. When they inquired further, however, they discovered that the plan in fact contained no areas for new housing
With no land to build on or house to move into, Yasmeen feared that the wedding would be postponed indefinitely. She decided to take matters into her own hands. She discovered that plots of land were for sale in the nearby town of Afula and drove with Faris to the sales office. There, the manager admitted that he’d already promised other customers that the housing project was “only for Jews; it was never intended to be mixed.” Insulted and frustrated, they walked back to their car. Faris said ruefully, “He may be racist, but at least he keeps his promises.”

With their hopes of building their own home fading, the couple found a house for sale in the Jewish town of Carmiel, both close to the university where Faris was studying, and to Yasmeen’s workplace. They got married and moved in. However, the couple hadn’t anticipated the difficulties they would encounter as Arabs in registering the house in their names. The Israel Land Authority justified the drawn-out process by stating, It’s the fact that you are a member of the [Arab] minority and the land is owned by the Jewish National Fund. We have to follow alternative registration procedures in your case.” After three years of mountainous paperwork, they still didn’t officially own the house and were stuck renting it with no end in sight.
Then, just after Faris’ graduation, the couple heard that some residential land had been put up for sale in their village at auction. They saved up every spare shekel, took out a mortgage – because they were Arabs they missed out on housing subsidies given to those who serve in the Israeli army – and finally achieved their ‘mission impossible’.
Two years later, Faris and a pregnant Yasmeen stood at the threshold of their own home, holding their new keys. As Yasmeen tried to talk Faris out of a ‘modern’ monochrome color scheme for the lounge, they were interrupted by Faris’ phone ringing. Before Faris could even say hello, his cousin exclaimed, “Haven’t you heard the news?! Lieberman’s declared a land-swap and is going to strip us of our citizenship! This entire village is going to become part of the West Bank!”
This fictional story is based on real-life events and Adalah’s cases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *