Plea by Jewish Anthropologist: Stop Eviction of Palestinians in Jerusalem!

Iqbal Jassat reports in Palestine Chronicle May 3 2021

Palestinians facing eviction in Occupied East Jerusalem may have helped save my family, says Julia Elyachar, professor of anthropology at Princeton University.

In a moving appeal published in The Forward, she recounts the kindness shown to her great-grandfather Raphael, whom she describes as an Arab Jew, by a Muslim family in Jerusalem.

Raphael who was born in Jerusalem, died when Elyachar’s grandfather was 13. She recollects that her great-grandfather had two business partners.  “One partner, who was a European Jew, took advantage of the bereft widow and stole our family’s livelihood. The other partner, an Arab and fellow Jerusalemite, saved my family from ruin, helped however he could, and treated my grandfather like a son.”

Elyachar recalls that the kind partner came from an illustrious Muslim family in Jerusalem, the Dajanis, also known by the honorific Daoudi, given to them by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529.

In her appeal to Jewish leaders in America as well as the Biden administration, she points out that families with those two names — Dajani and Daoudi — are facing eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

“I don’t know if either family is descended from my great-grandfather’s partner and my family’s benefactor. But the contrast between their imminent fate and the kindness shown to my great-grandfather is devastating. As a Jew in whose name an increasingly extremist Israeli government purports to speak, it’s my duty — and the duty of us all — to voice our objections to this step. It’s an unconscionable violation of the common humanity that binds us all.”

Although the Dajani and Daoudi families have until August to leave, court orders against seven other families, including the Al-Kurd family, which has been fighting eviction since settlers moved at gunpoint into part of their home in 2009, must vacate their homes by May 2.

At the time of writing, 130 Palestinians belonging to those seven families will be evicted from their homes.

As she correctly emphasizes, eviction is always a tragedy. As South Africans know only too well, forced evictions, confiscation of homes and properties, left a legacy of ruin and displacement. The sadness that overcame generations of communities in Fietas, SophiaTown, District 6 – to cite a few – was replaced with bitterness and resentment against the architects of apartheid’s notorious “group areas”.

Unjust atrocities perpetrated by the apartheid regime under the cover of so-called “laws”, failed to conceal the implementation of white supremacy from the ground up.

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