by Hugh Fitzgerald
There have been plenty of stories recently about Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem where, we are told, the endlessly cruel Israelis are trying to evict Palestinians who have been living there all their lives. It’s all part of Israel’s continuing “theft of Palestinian land” that the U.N., the E.U., and right-thinking people everywhere must work to stop. If you suspect there’s more to this story, you’d be right.
Elder of Ziyon has the details here: “Palestinians who demand 675,000 Jews be evicted because they are Jewish are complaining about ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Sheikh Jarrah,” Elder of Ziyon, May 6, 2021:
The headlines from Sheikh Jarrah almost all ignore the basic facts of the issue: The buildings in question are owned by Jews and the Arab residents have refused to pay rent – even though they had agreed in a 1982 court case.
As NGO Monitor summarizes:
According to the Supreme Court, the land in question “was owned by Chief Rabbi (Hacham Bashi) Avraham Ashkenazi and Chief Rabbi Meir Orbach until the War of Independence , after they purchased it in 1875 from its Arab owners.”
Subsequently, two Jewish organizations, Va’ad Eidat HaSfaradim and Va’ad HaKlali L’Knesset Yisrael, worked to register the land with the British Mandatory government in 1946….
The disputed land was bought in 1875 from Arab owners by the area’s Chief Rabbi; it was then owned by his successor until — we are told — the 1948 war. This was the finding of Israel’s Supreme Court, which is notorious for bending over backwards to find for the Palestinian side in cases brought before it. But the title in this instance was clear-cut. The land in dispute was then bought from the rabbinate by two Jewish organizations, There is some confusion here. It’s unclear if these properties were bought during the War of Independence in 1948, as the Supreme Court stated, or two years earlier, when the new buyers “worked to register” their ownership with the Mandatory government. Whatever the correct dates for the transfer of ownership, the owners of the land were undeniably Jews.
According to a 1979 High Court decision, and re-affirmed repeatedly in subsequent cases, as in the case of any tenant living on someone else’s property, residents living on the land owned by these organizations were required to pay rent to the organizations that owned the properties. Their failure to do so, along with instances of illegal building and illegally renting properties to others, resulted in the current legal proceedings against them, culminating in the District Court decision.
There are only four Arab families now being asked to leave land they do not own and for which they have always refused to pay rent, though the propaganda campaign being waged by the Palestinians leaves the distinct impression that hundreds of Arabs are in danger of eviction without cause.
There is nothing complicated about this case. It’s a question of property law, of who has title to four parcels of land. The land was originally bought by Jews in 1875, and has continued to be owned, without interruption, by a handful of Jewish owners. The land is now owned by the Nahalat Shimon Company, which bought the properties from two Jewish organizations, Va’ad Eidat HaSfaradim and Va’ad HaKlali L’Knesset Yisrael. The four Arab families living on these parcels have never paid rent to the Jewish owners. In addition, they have built structures illegally on part of the land they occupy, and some have illegally rented out to other Arabs the properties that they do not themselves own, nor pay any rent on.
Crucially, in 1982, a number of residents- including those whose descendants appealed to the District Court- agreed in Magistrate Court that the 2 Israeli non-profits were the legal land owners….
Having admitted in 1982 that two Israeli non-profits owned the land in question (which they subsequently sold, in 2003, to the Nahalat Shimon organization), the Arabs living on those properties are estopped to deny that admission.
There is no “ethnic cleansing” going on here. If Jews lived on these same properties and had refused over many years to pay rent to the properties’ rightful owners, they, too, would face eviction proceedings.
Today, the Palestinian National Council sent letters to the heads of parliaments around the world and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, demanding support to stop the “ethnic cleansing of Jerusalemites” in Sheikh Jarrah….
There is no cloud on the title of these four properties. They were bought from Arabs by Jews in 1875, and have been owned by Jews, or Jewish organizations, ever since. Every attempt by the Arabs to lay claim to ownership has been roundly rejected by a series of court decisions.
But will any of this – the chain of title to the land back to 1875, the non-payment of rent by Arabs “squatting” on this land — be reported by the mainstream media, or will that media stick with the PA’s narrative of cruel evictions being wantonly carried out by Israelis intent on seizing strategically-located parcels of land from their rightful Arab owners, as part of a campaign to “Judaize” East Jerusalem? Alas, we both know the answer to that.
First published in Jihad Watch.
As usual the MSM has dishonestly taken the side of the dishonest. Thus, their reporters are safe from serious harassment, and their fictions can be presented as facts-in-context. Courts have consistently confirmed the primary documentation presented by the Jewish owners. The illegal squatters should be removed, fined to recover, in a timely manner, past due rents and court costs of the legal owners, If the past due is not paid on time the delinquent squatters should be classed as indentured laborers on prison farms, (pig farms, if available) their wages to be garnished and paid to the property’s owners.