• =?UTF-8?Q?Almost_Nothing_You=E2=80=99ve_Heard_About_Evictions_in_Jer?=

    From David P.@21:1/5 to All on Wed May 19 23:21:50 2021
    Almost Nothing You’ve Heard About Evictions in Jerusalem Is True
    By Bell & Kontorovich, 5/14/21, Wall St. Journal

    Hamas never needs a special occasion to bombard Israel with
    rockets. Yet the progressive narrative connects the terrorist
    group’s current onslaught to eviction proceedings in Israeli
    courts concerning a few properties in the Jerusalem neighbor-
    hood of Sheikh Jarrah. Sens. Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren
    claim these are stark human-rights violations by the Israeli
    govt, & illegal under int'l law. Even the State Dept expressed
    “serious concern.”

    The truth about Sheikh Jarrah is the opposite. It is an
    ordinary property dispute between private parties. The
    Jewish claimants’ ownership of the few plots of land has been
    confirmed repeatedly in court, following laws that apply
    equally regardless of ethnicity. Israeli courts have gone out
    of their way to avoid evicting the Palestinian residents who
    haven’t paid rent for half a century.

    In the case now before Israel’s Supreme Court, the owner is
    an Israeli corporation with Jewish owners whose chain of
    title is documented back to an original purchase in 1875.
    Until 1948, the neighborhood now known as Sheikh Jarrah was
    home to both Jewish & Arab communities. Jordan invaded Israel
    in 1948 & occupied half of Jerusalem, expelling every one of
    its Jewish inhabitants & seizing their property.

    When Israel reunited Jerusalem & ended the Jordanian
    occupation in 1967, it had to decide what to do with these
    properties. In the many cases in which Jordan had officially
    transferred the title of Jewish-owned props to Palestinians,
    Israel respected the new titles—& still does—even though they
    are based on forcible takings in a war of aggression followed
    by ethnic cleansing against Jews. Where title had never
    been transferred, however, Israel returned properties to
    their owners. Critics of Israel claim that Arabs can’t recover
    property under the same law, but the law is entirely neutral—
    it is simply the case that Jordan took property from Jews,
    not Palestinians.

    Title to the properties in dispute in Sheikh Jarrah was never
    given by Jordan to Palestinians, so Israeli law respects the
    unbroken title of the plaintiffs. This case has nothing to do
    with ethnicity or religion. The only discrimination in the
    legal treatment of Sheikh Jarrah property is historic, by
    Jordan, & against Jews to the benefit of Palestinians.

    The plaintiff & its predecessors in title have spent 4 decades
    in court seeking to recover possession of the properties. In
    every case, courts have ruled in favor of the owners. In the
    latest lawsuits, the courts ruled that 4 of the 8 defendants
    were squatters with no legal rights in the land, & the
    remaining 4 were descendants of tenants who had never paid rent.

    Nevertheless, Israeli courts have treated the Palestinian
    squatters & leaseholders alike as “protected tenants,” &
    would shield them from eviction indefinitely if they paid
    rent. They have refused to do so.

    The laws involved are the same as any landlord would invoke.
    There is only one objection in this case: the owners are Jews.
    Western progressives have elevated the desire of some Arabs
    not to have Jewish neighbors into a human right & a legal
    entitlement that even the Jewish state must protect.

    The human-rights groups pushing this issue focus on the
    owners’ Jewishness. A letter from 190 progressive groups
    mentions the Jewish identity of the plaintiffs 8 times,
    calls them “settlers” 7 times—another way of saying they’re
    Jews living where Jews aren’t allowed—& points out that
    upholding the plaintiff’s property rights could change
    Jerusalem’s “demographic character.” J Street, a left-wing
    Jewish org, characterizes the lawsuits as an attempt to
    “Judaize primarily Palestinian neighborhoods,” as if the
    ethnicity of neighbors is a reason to take away Jews’ property.

    Israeli courts adjudicate property disputes in Jerusalem
    between Arab parties, or by Arabs against Jews, with no
    protest. The manufactured controversy this time is an attempt
    to pressure Israel effectively to perpetuate Jordan’s ethnic
    cleansing—in the name of human rights.

    There is much to say about Jewish property rights in the
    region. The one million Jews who fled pogroms in Egypt, Iraq
    & elsewhere in the Arab world after 1948 were forced to leave
    behind $$billions of property, for which they have no remedy.
    Even today, in the areas of the West Bank under the juris-
    diction of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians who sell
    land to Jews are subject to torture, imprisonment & death.

    Israel’s only crime in Sheikh Jarrah is refusing to follow
    these examples of discrimination & respecting property rights.
    Many critics, including the UN’s human-rights functionaries,
    have tried to say this amounts to establishing settlements &
    violating int'l law, a reference to the 4th Geneva Convention.
    But even in the mistaken view that the convention applies here,
    it prohibits only “the deportation or transfer” of citizens
    by a govt into an occupied territory. It has no bearing on
    private property rights & certainly doesn’t require a govt to
    refuse to enforce them.

    The real story behind Sheikh Jarrah is a microcosm of the
    conflict: Israel is condemned for policies that are entirely
    unremarkable, while discrimination against Jews is proclaimed
    to be a rule of int'l law.

    Bell is a prof at the U of San Diego Law School. Kontorovich
    is director of the Center for the Middle East & Int'l Law at
    George Mason U. School of Law. Both are scholars at the
    Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.


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