As we’re watching what might well turn into a third intifada play out in Jerusalem, images of fires burning among the trees outside the Al-Aqsa mosque and reports of children being injured in a new volley of airstrikes in Gaza, I can’t get a line from the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry out of my head.
“Regrettably, the PA” — the Palestinian Authority — “and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties, as a nationalistic cause, in order to incite violence in Jerusalem,” the ministry said in a statement Saturday, two days after anger in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem began to boil over.
Calling the catalyst of all this a “real estate dispute” is a particularly noxious way to diminish what’s actually occurring: Nahalat Shimon, a U.S.-based settler organization, is trying to have Palestinians who have lived in the neighborhood since 1956 evicted. Once they are evicted, the property — occupied by Israel along with the rest of east Jerusalem since 1967 — would then be turned over to Jewish settlers under Israeli law. The six families who have been fighting to keep their homes since 1982 would get nothing to ease their displacement.
For years, the situation in Israel has been painted as a war of survival, the Israelis against the Palestinians and, by proxy, their Arab neighbors. That no longer reflects the realities on the ground, where the ability of one side to harm the other is in no way balanced. This “real-estate dispute,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government calls it, is a microcosm of the wildly unbalanced Israeli-Palestinian situation today.
Because this is about more than just six families. It’s about whether Palestinians will be allowed to live in east Jerusalem at all. The New York Times laid out the imbalance clearly: “In East Jerusalem, Jews are allowed to reclaim property that was under Jewish ownership before 1948. But Palestinian families have no legal mechanism to reclaim land they owned in West Jerusalem or anywhere else in Israel.” [Continue reading…]
Sheikh Jarrah is the latest flashpoint of Israel’s expansionist project. The threats of eviction are part of what Palestinians describe as their “ongoing Nakba,” because the removal and forced exile of 80 percent of historic Palestine’s native population between 1947 and 1949 was not a singular event. It is the same reality we saw in Khan al-Ahmar, and in Araqib before that, and it is how every settlement was solidified, from Tel Aviv in 1948 to the newer settlements of Maali Adumim and Givat Hamatos in the West Bank.
Zionist settlement remains an ongoing process that seeks to remove Palestinian natives and replace them with Jewish-Zionists. In Jerusalem, the forced removals echo throughout the West Bank, throughout Gaza and among Palestinians forcibly exiled in the global diaspora.
Israeli settlers, supported as they are by the United States and a nearly silent global community, are incredibly brazen in their ethnic-cleansing campaign. One settler matter-of-factly told Muna El-Kurd while she protested the theft of her home: “If I don’t steal it, someone else will.” [Continue reading…]