Judge Asher Grunis, one of the five judges who sided in favour of the law which legitimises the use of admission committees to reject potential applicants based on "social suitability"
As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, 21-year-old Shadan Jabareen says she has experienced institutionalised discrimination since she was a child. In 1994, her parents wanted to get away from the constant noise and the overcrowded Umm al-Fahm and move to a Jewish-Israeli community.
"My dad heard an advertisement on the radio for homes in Katzir," she said, referring to a kibbutz
, or Jewish agricultural community, in the country's north. "The admissions committee told my dad that they didn't want Arabs because it would lower the community's value in Katzir,"
Jabareen, who studies literature at Tel Aviv University, told Al Jazeera.
After a legal struggle, her parents eventually were admitted to buy a home in Katzir, where they lived for seven years. "The neighbours were usually okay with us, but the admissions committee never wanted us."
Admissions committees are common in small semi-cooperative Jewish communities across the Negev and Galilee regions in Israel. In compliance with larger regional councils, these admission committees evaluate potential residents and ultimately decide whether to accept them into the communities.
In March 2000, just a few years after the Jabareen family's struggle, the highly publicised Kaadan case made waves when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to discriminate in housing admission based on ethnicity or religion. The Kaadans, an Arab couple from a nearby town, waged a long legal battle to protest their being rejected by Katzir's committee.
Fourteen years down the line, on September 17, the Israeli Supreme Court essentially undid that ruling when it dismissed petitions put forward by rights groups challenging the Admissions Committee Law
Passed in 2011, the legislation legitimises the use of admission committees to reject potential applicants based on "social suitability". If admissions committees view applicants as "harmful" to the "social-cultural fabric of the community town", they are permitted to turn them down.
Falling short of a majority, four judges ruled against the law. Judge Asher Grunis, one of the five judges who sided in favour of the law and struck down the petitions, ruled
: "The court does not have a sufficient factual basis for a decision" because the objections raised in the petition are "hypothetical and theoretical claims".
Nonetheless, several rights groups say it is most frequently employed to block Arab citizens from living in Jewish communities.