The Forward reports that Israel’s attorney general ruled last week that one of the fundamental tenets upon which the Jewish state was built – acquiring and reserving land for Jews to live on – is discriminatory and should not continue with state assistance.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz was responding to a Supreme Court case involving Jewish National Fund, an organization that helped build the Jewish state by purchasing land for Jewish settlement – largely with funds donated by Jews in America. Land owned by the fund is designated as public land and leased by the government to homeowners. In his January 26 ruling, Mazuz said that the government may no longer market the land if the fund allows only Jewish tenants.
JNF owns 13% of Israel’s land, home to 70% of the population. Through a 1962 agreement with the government, it has leased that land to Jews through the government’s Israel Land Authority. The attorney general’s decision throws that historic role into flux.
The chairman of JNF told the Forward that his organization is in talks to sever its official relationship with the state in order to preserve its mission of protecting the land for Jews. “The state is obliged to treat all its citizens equally,” Chairman Yehiel Leket said, “but we are not the state.”