Court: Developer Can’t Sell Just to Religious

Construction. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90, File)

A real estate project that until now was being marketed solely to the religious public must be made available to all customers, a Yerushalayim court has ruled. The Carmei Gat project, located in Kiryat Gat, is being marketed by the B’Emunah real estate development firm, and until now has been marketed strictly to the religious public, via advertisements in publications distributed in shuls and on radio stations for religious listeners.

The lawsuit was brought against the developers and the Israel Lands Administration by the Israel Civil Rights Union, which claimed that the latter had illegally agreed to allow B’Emunah to market the project in this manner. This is contradiction to the ILA’s own rules, and the contract for development itself, which require that the homes be marketed to everyone.

The Civil Rights Union said that it had sent several customers to the company in order to inquire about purchasing a home in the project, posing as secular customers, and they were told that they could not purchase a home, as the project was “reserved” for religious families. Before the court hearing, B’Emunah said that it had already stopped the practice, but that demand among non-religious customers was low. Out of 244 homes sold, only 15 were sold to non-religious families. The company said that it had explained to potential customers that the lifestyle in the project was not appropriate for secular families.

“We congratulate the court for its decision,” the Civil Rights Union said. “We claimed all along that discrimination in the marketing of homes is illegal, and that neither religious nor secular customers have a right to lock themselves into separate neighborhoods and associate strictly with their own kind. Now the court has accepted our stance, clarifying that discrimination is illegal. The ILA itself should have enforced this rule.”