Naomi Chazan of Meretz and veteran leftist Uri Avnery at Saturday's protest
Another demonstration took place over the weekend against Jews moving into Sheikh Jarrah, that area of East Jerusalem known to Jews as Shimon Hatzadik. Palestinians and much of the media claim it is 'Arab'. The controversy over property rights concerns this blog because the underlying assumption is that Arab rights trump Jewish rights: nobody seems to care that Jews were forcibly evicted from land and property in East Jerusalem before 1948, nor does anyone worry about Jewish property seized in Arab countries. The Jews are the 'interlopers', while the Arabs are 'indigenous'. A proper reading of history shows that nothing could be further than the truth. Karni Eldad writing in Haaretz says Jews have had to buy their property in Jerusalem twice over :
"In 1948, scores of families were expelled from their homes in Jerusalem. The city was divided and squatters took over their houses and built on their properties. These refugees prayed to return to the homes they purchased legally in the 1920s and 1930s.
"In 1967, legal proceedings began for the restoration of ownership to those refugees. The squatters pursued every possible means, in every court, to delay the implementation of the possession by the legal owners. Every such legal proceeding lasted for decades, until an appeal was made to the High Court of Justice.
"In 2009, the High Court of Justice had its say too - the squatters must be evicted and they must also pay compensation to the owners of the land for all the years they made use of it. The proceedings against all the squatters has not yet been completed, but this year dozens of Jewish families are slated to return to their homes. Jewish? What? Yes, yes. These are families that are now purchasing, for the full price, their own properties in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, better known as Sheikh Jarrah.
"Is anyone on the left standing by the side of these robbed families and against the Arab squatters? Not a single one of them. All the morality melts away when the actors change. Where can the (supposedly) moral left be found? In demonstrations against the police and against the old-new settlers who have returned to their stolen homes.
"I visited Shimon Hatzadik one Friday. My arrival was greeted by the Taayush choir singing "Free Sheikh Jarrah." A procession of some of our best boys, wrapped in kaffiyehs, marched toward me with drums, shouting.
"In truth - they were scary. I didn't understand what the fuss was about. After all, these houses were purchased twice, paid for with lots of good money. Once in the 1920s and once now, to the Arab squatters.
"No Jew cowed an Arab with threats so he would sell his home to Jews. On the contrary, his Arab friends threatened him if he sold it. But he and some of his neighbors did sell. And now the house belongs to its original owners."
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Ami Isseroff, a Zionist liberal and owner of the excellent blog ZioNation, has also noted the hypocrisy of the Left when it comes to Jewish rights:
"I thought that "shared Jerusalem" means that the city, in all its neighborhoods would be open to both Jews and Arabs, as it was in the days when I was a student there, and lived for a time in Wadi Joz, in East Jerusalem, in rooms sublet by an Arab landlord. The kaleidoscope of different cultures, admittedly not always living in harmony, is what created the exotic charm of Jerusalem in those days. Silly me! It seems that shared Jerusalem, according to Ir Amim, means that East Jerusalem must be ethnically cleansed of Jews. For Ir-Amim has cynically turned slogans like "human rights," "democracy" and "justice" on their heads.
"Orly Nir of Ir-Amim explained to me that shared Jerusalem means this:
Ir-Amim's idea of shared Jerusalem is for the city to acknowledge both national identities and serve as both the Israeli and the Palestinian capital. Any development which aims to prevent this model is dangerous to our understanding, including ideological settlements in Palestinian neighborhoods.
"Of course, if there are two capitals in Jerusalem, there will be a divided city. Sheikh Jarrah will be there to prevent access to outlying Jewish neighborhoods from the center. The old city will be ethnically cleansed of Jews once again, and Jews will have no access to their holy places or any national presence in their ancient capital. The Arabs stopped paying rent for ideological reasons, not because they do not have money. It is impossible to understand why one ideological act by Jews is wrong, while another by Arabs is deemed to be right.
The proponents of "peace" and "democracy" and "rights," Ir Amim included, want to ignore the entire history of Jewish habitation in Jerusalem prior to 1948, as well as the 43 years of Israeli rule in "Arab" East Jerusalem following 1967. The ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Jerusalem, and the 19 year illegal occupation of Jerusalem by Jordan, are to define rights of sovereignty and the rights of habitation in Jerusalem, in the name of "human rights." Ir-Amim seems to believe that when Jews are ethnically cleansed, they should know their place and remain ethnically cleansed, and not try to recover their rights."
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To those who claim that the recovery by Jews of homes in Sheikh Jarrah opens the floodgates to Palestinians claiming their right to recover property inside Israel, Yaacov Lozowick claims that non-citizens are not able to recover their property (I don't know if this is true) , and Yair Gabai argues that those who started an aggressive war must forfeit their property rights, although the Israeli government did enact a law in 1973 permitting compensation in such cases.
Jewish rights ignored in Jerusalem evictions story