The New York Times has issued an unprecedented apology for an article by Diaa Hadid about property disputes in the old city of Jerusalem. There could be some 100 such properties, according to an Arab source. The NYT correction admits that the homes concerned were owned by Jews before they were expelled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Israeli courts ruled against the Arab tenants only because of non-payment of rent. Contrary to Hadid's claims, Arabs have received fair compensation for properties they may have abandoned in West Jerusalem, while not a single claim for property lost by Jews in Arab countries has been honoured.
View of the Old City of Jerusalem towards the Mount of Olives
Here is the New York Times' correction:
"The Jerusalem Journal article on Jan. 15 about Palestinian residents
of Jerusalem’s Old City who face eviction by Israeli organizations gave
an incomplete description of the legal disputes in several cases. The
descriptions were based on the tenants’ accounts; the article should
have included additional information from court documents or from the
landlords. (The landlords are organizations that have reclaimed
properties owned by Jews before Israel was established in 1948.)
In the case of Nazira Maswadi, the article said her new landlord was
trying to evict her based on a claim that her estranged husband was dead
(he is still alive). In fact, the landlord claims in court filings that
the Maswadi family has not proved that it has paid rent.
In another case, the article quoted Nawal Hashimeh as saying she was
being evicted for replacing a door to her apartment. But according to
court documents, her rent payments had also been rejected because they
were submitted by her son, whom the landlord said it had no contractual
relationship with. (The landlord also claimed that three rent checks
fell short of the amount owed.)
In a separate case, the article said Nora Sub Laban faced accusations
that she had not continuously lived in her apartment, though she
claimed that she had never left it. While the article said that Ms. Sub
Laban had been battling eviction efforts for four decades and that the
Israeli Supreme Court must now decide whether to consider her appeal, it
should have noted that an Israeli court in 2014 upheld a lower-court
finding that she had not returned to live at the property after
renovations were completed in 2000 or 2001.
While the reporter tried to reach representatives of the landlord in
the Sub Laban case, The Times should also have tried to reach the
landlords involved in the other cases and their lawyers."
The media watchdog CAMERA's critique led the NYT to issue its correction:
"Hadid is also extremely misleading or completely wrong – it
depends on how devious she is trying to be – about the relevant Israeli
law regarding compensation for lost property, when she claims that
"compensation [is] based only on the 1949 value of the home or land."
It's hard to say because the phrase "based only on the 1949 value"
could have many meanings. For example it could mean one million times
the 1949 value, which would be very generous, or it could mean one tenth
the 1949 value, or not generous at all. Both methods could be said to
be "based only on the 1949 value," but obviously couldn't be more
The actual formula is the 1949 value, with yearly interest and cost
of living (or inflation) adjustments. Arabs who lost property in Israel
are eligible to file for compensation from Israel's Custodian of
Absentee Property. As of the end of 1993, a total of 14,692 claims had
been filed, claims were settled with respect to more than 200,000 dunums
of land, more than 10,000,000 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) had been paid
in compensation, and more than 54,000 dunums of replacement land had
been given in compensation.
Israel has followed this generous policy despite the fact that not a
single penny of compensation has ever been paid to any of the more than
500,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who were forced by the Arab
governments to abandon their homes, businesses and savings.
In addition, it should not be ignored that many journalists,
including Hadid, write about Jews living in the Old City's Muslim
Quarter as if this violates some unwritten moral or legal code, but they
never write about the large number of Arabs living in the nearby Jewish
For example, according to the 1995 Census of Population and Housing
at least 480 Muslims lived in the Jewish Quarter, making up 22.5% of
the quarter's population. In contrast, Jews made up just 1.68% of the
Muslim Quarter's population. Even in absolute terms, the 480 Muslims
living in the Jewish Quarter outnumbered the 380 Jews living in the much
larger Muslim Quarter."
Breaking the silence on Jewish property rights
More articles about property rights in Jerusalem