Kaid Dabah has dreamed of living in Carmiel, near his hometown of Dir al-Asad, since he was 15 years old. He was drawn to the neighboring town's orderly streets, quiet and clean neighborhoods, and entertainment and leisure options that his village lacked. As an adolescent, he remembers, he longed above all for personal freedom and presumed he would find it in Carmiel, out of his family's reach.
In August 2004, at age 28, Dabah and his fiancee decided to realize that dream and buy a home in Carmiel. The housing crunch in his village only reinforced his decision and persuaded his parents. He found an apartment on He'asif Street in Carmiel's Givat Ram neighborhood.
"Within a week, I had reached an agreement with the owner on the price and signed a contract with him. I worked on the bank, and they approved a mortgage for me. I thought I was at long last making the dream come true," Dabah said. But the Jewish National Fund had other plans.
"A month before the wedding, after I had signed the contract and made a down payment of NIS 40,000 to the apartment's owner, the lawyer called me and told me to come see him as soon as possible," he continued. When Dabah arrived for a meeting, the lawyer informed him that the land on which the apartment building stands belongs to the JNF.
"The lawyer said to me: 'I'll give it to you straight: The JNF doesn't sell to Arabs and you can't buy the apartment.' I felt my world cave in," Dabah said.