The Sheikh Jarrah eviction in East Jerusalem
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian residential neighbourhood located to the north of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. The area, which is home to approximately 2,700 Palestinians, includes well-known landmarks, such as the Orient House, the American Colony Hotel and the Palestinian National Theatre, as well as many consular missions. Given the area’s strategic location, Israeli settler organizations have made persistent efforts to take control of land and property and establish a sustained presence in Sheikh Jarrah. On 2 August 2009, 53 Palestinian refugees, including 20 children, were forced out of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli authorities following a court ruling.
OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, occupied Palestinian territory) reports on the evictions, the background with detailed maps of the area in its new publication Sheikh Jarrar, August 2009.
Ha’aretz immediately responded to the evictions with an Editorial/Israel must allow evicted Arab families to return home
Joseph Dana and Mairav Zonszein have made a 4-minute video about the expulsion:
They comment in Palestinians out, Jews in on ibn Ezra’s blog:
Jerry Haber gives a thoughtful but outraged response to the events in his Israel’s “Hamas”, 3 August (‘Hamas’ being biblical Hebrew for robbery). Some extracts are given below.
And Slavoj Zizek puts the expulsion in a wider context in his Comment is Free piece, 18 August Quiet slicing of the West Bank makes abstract prayers for peace obscene where the sub-head says it all: “Condemnation of ‘illegal’ settlements and violence only blurs the reality of
what the Israeli state is sanctioning, day by day.”
Zizek concludes that “while paying lip-service to the two-state solution, Israel is busy creating a situation on the ground that will render such a solution impossible. The dream underlying Israel’s plans is encapsulated by a wall that separates a settler’s town from the Palestinian town on a nearby West Bank hill. The Israeli side of the wall is painted with the image of the countryside beyond the wall but without the Palestinian town, depicting just nature, grass and trees. Is this not ethnic cleansing at its purest, imagining the outside beyond the wall as empty, virginal and waiting to be settled?”
Jerry Haber extracts:
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.”
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.
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?
Read the full posting on the Magnes Zionist blog.