Afula residents are up in arms over the results of a recent lottery for the right to buy homes in a new neighborhood of the city – all of which went to Arabs from area villages. Hundreds of residents protested outside city hall Sunday night, demanding that the lottery be held again and that they, the veteran residents of the city, be given priority to purchase the lots over those from outside the town.
A mostly working-class city, residents of Afula were unable to offer as much as the Arabs to buy the lots; the average offer by the Arabs was 6 to 7 times more than what local residents were able to afford. According to the residents, the Arabs colluded with each other to outbid the Jews in an effort to get a foothold in the city, as part of their plan to eventually turn it into an Arab city. Proof of the collusion, they said, was the fact that Arabs won the right to buy every single one of the lots.
Several of the protesters demanded that the government investigate the matter to determine whether or not the Arabs had received outside assistance from the European Union or other organizations to buy the land. The EU, said the protesters, has been involved in similar schemes elsewhere in Israel.
Among the protesters were Afula residents Yaakov and Ilana Dadon, whose daughter Shelly, 20, Hy”d, was murdered last year in a terror attack in the city. “They stabbed our daughter 17 times, and now they are stabbing us 50 times,” said Yaakov Dadon, referring to the number of lots that had been up for auction. “They are doing an injustice to all of Afula with this plan. Soon they will build their own school and a mosque here. Where is this country going to? We don’t buy land in their villages, so they should not be allowed to buy land in our cities. They have plenty of land, and they would never sell it – so instead they buy land here. This is intolerable,” he said.
During the protest, the city’s mayor, Yitzchak Meron, came out to speak to protesters – and was nearly attacked by them, with demonstrators being held back by police. He explained that the land sale had nothing to do with the city, and that any complaints should be directed at the Israel Lands Authority, which was responsible for the lottery.
Speaking Monday, United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes told reporters that the new neighborhood was located right next to Kiryat Vizhnitz in Afula – and that it was unacceptable that an Arab neighborhood, which could post a major security threat, would be built there. “In the same way we would not set up a Jewish neighborhood in the Arab city of Umm el-Faham, we cannot allow an Arab neighborhood to be set up in Afula.” MK Rabbi Mozes said he would investigate ways to cancel the lottery and reassign the lots to residents of the city, instead of outsiders.