Israel’s hypocritical targeting of Sheikh Jarrah homes
The government of Israel displays a great deal of hypocrisy in pursuing many of its racist, apartheid policies, including, most recently, its attempts to evict non-Jews from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Israel is seeking to expel non-Jews from dozens of homes in Sheikh Jarrah that have been in contention for years. Basically, some of the properties were owned prior to the 1948 war by Jewish organizations. Since Israel’s 1967 military occupation of Sheikh Jarrah, those associations have sold their rights to American organizations that support the expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied Territories.
According to the Israeli government, the issue is about real estate and belongs in the courts. However, the courts in Israel are part of a racist judicial system that discriminates against non-Jews. That is the principle that Israel is founded on and why its critics label it as apartheid.
The Israeli Supreme Court this week delayed making a decision on who owns the land, adjourning a hearing and saying only that the residents of the properties can stay for an undetermined amount of time. It seems one concern was all the media attention Sheikh Jarrah was receiving, so the future of the Arab residents remains uncertain.
Aside from the courts, Israel’s government further aggravates the situation by sending Jewish soldiers to support the claims of Jewish settlers, forcibly expelling non-Jews at gunpoint, while protecting the settlers who claim they are seeking to recover lands taken from them through the court system.
The hypocrisy is in the bigger picture. Nearly two-thirds of all the property inside Israel belonged to non-Jews prior to 1948. Israel started the war in the 1940s with a clear plan to create a Jewish-only state. More than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homes and lands during the 1947-48 war. After the war, Israel offered Jews in Arab countries financial incentives to relocate there, along with land and property, most of which had been taken from non-Jews.
By manipulating sections of the mainstream news media, particularly in the US and Europe, Israel portrayed itself as the victim of the 1947-48 war as a way of defending its claims to the abandoned homes and land. Israel turned the facts upside down, asserting that Jews were “expelled” from Arab countries and, therefore, the transfer of Jews to Israel in place of non-Jews was about equity. But it is not. Israel is the master of the big lie, using its news media mastery to reinforce that lie.
When you examine the facts, you see that the hypocrisy is today really quite simple. Israel argues that the property in Sheikh Jarrah previously belonged to Jews and should be taken away from the non-Jewish “usurpers.” Yet Israel, ironically, rejects that very same principle in responding to the claims of non-Jews that their homes were taken from them in 1947-48 by Jews and should be returned to them. This is the foundation of the right of return movement, which Israel denounces as an anti-Semitic attempt to destroy Israel’s “Jewish character.”
Israel is the master of the big lie, using its news media mastery to reinforce that lie.
Will Israel’s government also fight to return homes and lands taken from Palestinians prior to 1948 that are not occupied by immigrant Israeli Jews?
In reality, none of the Jews occupying the homes lived in Palestine prior to the 1948 war. They are a part of the Jewish-only settler movement that groups around the world have identified as part of a racist and discriminatory system through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to block the settlement movement’s continued exploitation of property previously owned by non-Jews.
In a way, Israel is justifying the BDS movement through its actions in Sheikh Jarrah; showing that the principle of seeking to protect civilian property in a military conflict is a righteous endeavor.
Israel’s unprincipled Sheikh Jarrah land grab in May ignited a wider conflict that reached Gaza, where Palestinians showed solidarity against Israel’s racist and illegal actions. The negative publicity Israel received as a result of that fight has slowed its efforts to expel non-Jews, but it has not stopped it.
More and more people around the world are better understanding the truth of the Israeli government’s crimes. As they do so, the tables are turning, meaning justice will one day prevail. It would be great if that happened soon to prevent the loss of any more lives.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania