Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage to the High Court of Justice: This Ministry is Responsible Exclusively for Jewish Heritage
Following the publication of discriminatory criteria for budgeting heritage sites, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage claimed that it is solely entrusted with the conservation of Zionist heritage and sites associated with the history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel ■ Emek Shaveh and the Arab Culture Association submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice ■ In response to the petition, the Ministry reiterated the above and explained that other government ministries invest in minority heritage sites ■ Emek Shaveh: The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage is obliged to conserve and present the heritage of all the country’s inhabitants and cultures
Six months ago, Arab historians submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice along with Emek Shaveh and the Arab Culture Association following an open call advertised by the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage which involved discriminatory criteria for the budgeting of heritage sites. In a previous open call from the years 2016-2020, 400 million shekels were added to the budget and additional hundreds of millions through matching grants.
When the open call for 2021-2026 was publicized, Emek Shaveh demanded the Ministry change the discriminatory criteria. The Ministry’s legal advisor, in response, explained that “the Ministry was established with the aim of conserving the country’s national and Zionist heritage.” In other words, according to the Ministry’s legal advisor, it is not entrusted with the heritage of the entire country, but only with that which is related to the Jewish people.
Though the High Court of Justice has repeatedly ruled that budgets must be equitable (aside from the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration whose status is enshrined in the Law of Return), the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage stated in its reply to the petition that “other government ministries invest budgets also in minority heritage sites” whereas it is entrusted with the national heritage of the Jewish people in their country. The response submitted to the High Court of Justice last night, effectively reinforced our concern that the Ministry’s policy is solely to budget Jewish-Zionist sites. To our dismay, the Attorney General decided to confirm its legality.
Emek Shaveh and the Arab Culture Association’s response: Residents of the country deserve to learn about the history of this country in its entirety and appreciate the heritage of past and present peoples in all its diversity. As far as we understand it, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage – as its name implies – is entrusted with heritage at large. We live in a country rich in history and material remains of multiple peoples, cultures, and faiths. We believe that the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage is the body responsible for conserving sites, presenting and making them accessible to the public. Hundreds of sites that do not embody Jewish history are in grave physical condition, and require conservation and ongoing maintenance so as not to disappear from the landscape. The history of the country is crumbling along with them.