On the Voice of Israel this morning there was a news item about the eviction of the al-Ghawi and al-Hanoun families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in order to make way for Jewish settlers.
The item ended as follows:
"Jewish families entered the two houses after the Palestinians who had squatted there were evicted. The eviction was done on the basis of the High Court's ruling."
לשני בתים בשיח ג'אראח נכנסו משפחות יהודיות לאחר שפונו מהן פלסטינים שפלשו לשם. הפינוי נעשה על פי פסיקה של בגצ.
That one line contains in a nutshell the lies and moral rot of the current Israeli regime, and the thinking behind it. And some would say, though I am not yet ready to, the lies and moral rot of the Zionist enterprise – or, more precisely -- of the thinking that became dominant within the Zionist enterprise with Ben-Gurion.
Let us start with the characterization of the families as "squatters".
Would you call a squatter somebody who was resettled in houses that were legally purchased by the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency to resettle refugees, and who lived there for over FIFTY YEARS? And why? Because disputed deeds were produced that claimed that prior to 1948 the Jews had owned the homes? If you would, then for God's sake, thousands of Jews living in South Jerusalem, and throughout the country, are squatters. For what is the difference between the UNRWA resettling Palestinians in Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, who had been driven from their homes in West Jerusalem, and the ILA resettling Oriental Jews in Arab homes in West Jerusalem who had driven from their homes in Arab countries – besides the obvious one that the Jews were indoctrinated to think that they were returning home. If the Arabs are squatters then the Jews are squatters.
And in this case, the families who were evicted are precisely the ones who fled their homes in West Jerusalem. So they have been thrown out of their homes by Israel twice.
But, we are told by our prime minister, Jews should be able to live anywhere in Jerusalem because East Jerusalem Arabs can live anywhere in Jerusalem. Haaretz sets the facts straight.
According to Israel Land Administration rules, residents of East Jerusalem cannot take ownership of the vast majority of Jerusalem homes.
When an Israeli citizen purchases an apartment or house, ownership of the land remains with the ILA, which leases it to the purchaser for a period of 49 years, enabling the registration of the home ("tabu"). Article 19 of the ILA lease specifies that a foreign national cannot lease - much less own - ILA land.
Attorney Yael Azoulay, of Zeev and Naomi Weil Lawyers and Notary Office, explains that if a foreign national purchases an apartment they must show the ILA proof of eligibility to immigrate to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return. Non-Jewish foreigners cannot purchase apartments. This group includes Palestinians from the east of the city, who have Israeli identity cards but are residents rather than citizens of Israel.
Most residences in West Jerusalem and in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are built on ILA land. All the neighborhoods built after 1967 - Gilo, Pisgat Ze'ev, Ramot, French Hill and Armon Hanatziv - are built on ILA land. Even in the older neighborhoods of Kiryat Hayovel, Katamonim and Beit Hakerem, tens of thousands of apartments are built on ILA land and cannot be sold to Palestinians. In the ultra-Orthodox central Jerusalem neighborhoods of Geula and Mea Shearim, as well as in Rehavia and Talbieh, there are homes built on private land - mainly owned by one of the churches or purchased in the past by Jews.
It goes without saying that a Palestinian seeking to purchase an apartment in a Haredi area would be rejected out of hand, and Rehavia or Talbieh would in any event be out of the range of most East Jerusalemites' budget.
The worse thing about the secrets and lies is that the liars begin to believe their own lies. So the rightwing reporter, Nadav Shragai, writes,
In Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem such as Armon HaNatziv, Neve Yaakov, Tzameret HaBira, and Pisgat Zeev, the fringes of the neighborhoods have many Palestinian Arab residents, either through purchase or rental of apartments. In some of the buildings along Rehov HaHavatzelet in the center of the city, a similar change is taking place. Jews and Arabs also live together in the neighborhood of Abu Tor, and there are several streets in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, such as Rehov HaGai, where a similar situation is gradually developing. In short, as certain parts of eastern Jerusalem have become ethnically diverse, it has become impossible to characterize it as a wholly Palestinian area that can easily be split off from the rest of Jerusalem.
The "Jewish neighborhoods" to which Shragai refers here are all over the Green Line. In other words, to show that Jerusalem has ethnically diverse neighborhoods, and hence there cannot be a simple division, he cites cases where Jews "squatted" in territories over which they have no legal rights. That is a good trick: occupy territory, transfer (illegally) your citizens there, and then claim that no withdrawal is possible because of the ethnic diversity.
One blatant example of injustice is the Old City. By law, no Arab is allowed to purchase, or rent an apartment, in the post-67 Jewish Quarter. The law was upheld by the High Court and Haim Cohen, one of Israel's great "liberals," defended the discrimination by using an affirmative action argument – Jews had not been allowed to live in the Old City under Jordanian rule. Well, and good. But if Arabs cannot live in the (vastly expanded) Jewish Quarter, and some were actually evicted from their homes for that), then justice requires that Jews cannot live in the Muslim Quarter. But Jews are allowed to live and own property in the Muslim Quarter? And why? Well, why shouldn't Jews be allowed to live there, blah, blah, blah.
The injustice of all this shrieks to high heaven. Look, if you are a Jewish fundamentalist, then you have no problems. All of the land belongs to the Jews; let the others go to Hell. If you are a good old–fashioned nineteenth century nationalist, you also have no problem: to the military victors belong the spoils.
But if you are a decent human being, you cannot but shout, My God, how long will this robbery – or to use the Biblical Hebrew word, this Hamas—continue?
Isn't what we stole after 1948 and 1967 enough?