Thursday, February 18, 2010

More About Sheikh Jarrah

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm trying to figure out what's really going on in Sheikh Jarrah. Some of the people I turned to refused to cooperate. Perhaps they have no interest in the simple facts, shorn of slogans. Others, however, were quite helpful.

Here are two resources of interest: Ir Amin has a description of the case here, seen from the Left, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has a survey here, seen from the Right. (h/t Dror and Joseph).

The more I look into the matter, the more complicated it becomes; this is not only because there's ever more to learn, but also because the story is still happening. Indeed, since there's very little argument left about the West Bank, which everyone knows will eventually become part of Palestine if the Palestinians ever decide they really want sovereignty, Jerusalem is coming into focus as a major issue. However, here's a quick list of things I've learned:

1. Yes, there is legal discrimination. It was never legislated consciously, rather it's a loophole that evolved, but it hasn't been closed, either. Jews who once owned property that was taken over by the Jordanians in Jerusalem have some chance of recovering their property, while Arabs who once owned property that was taken over by the Israelis don't have a track to recover it. I was unaware of this, and am not proud of it now that I know it.

2. Yes there is political discrimination. Jews who purchase property on the market in East Jerusalem will face objections all the way to the President of the United States if they move into their property. Arabs who purchase property on the market in West Jerusalem can move in as soon as the movers are ready, and no-one will object. (Yes, I know such people personally).

3. The people organizations and governments who dislike the intricate legal process in Sheikh Jarrah are not interested in legalities. The Ir Amim report say this explicitly, as do many of their accomplices in effort. They'll use the law if it serves their purposes, or condemn it if it doesn't.

4. There's so much history it makes your head reel. The 4th-century BCE top Jewish leader who chatted with Alexander the Great (he actually probably didn't) lived on the same block as the charismatic Palestinian leader who may have chatted with Adolf Hitler about the need to add the Jews of Mandatory Palestine to the Final Solution (but he probably didn't. He did chat with Himmler, though).

I expect I'll have more on this as we go on. The story is quite alive.

22 comments:

the_raptor said...

The Mufti did talk to Hitler in 1941, who promised to destroy the Jews of the Yishuv as soon as Germany conquered the area:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/mufti2.html

Joe in Australia said...

The JCPA article is badly written and confusing. That said, the Ir Amim report is dishonestly written. I can't speak to the facts, since I haven't studied them, but the author(s) repeatedly use the passive voice to avoid any implication of wrongdoing on the part of non-Israelis.

In the first paragraph, a "small Jewish community ... was dispersed ... through 1948". What happened, of course, was that the Jewish residents were evicted at gunpoint by the invading Jordanians. In the second paragraph "this area of land passed to the Jordanian government". In fact it was confiscated by them. Palestinians "were settled in" the houses - the implication being that the new residents did not take an active part in this.

In contrast to the passivity of the Jordanians and Palestinians, the Israelis are depicted as actors: they "sue for ownership", they "evict Palestinian families", they have "gained control over properties" and they "plan to destroy the existing buildings".

I have some sympathy for the families facing eviction: they've been there a long time on the basis of assurances made to them sixty years ago. It's a messy legal situation made worse by the historical imbalance. I wish these families could reclaim property they held before 1948, and I'm surprised nobody has discussed this.

Anonymous said...

Joe
"I wish these families could reclaim property they held before 1948"
nice point especially when one starts thinking about those living in that property and maybe they were settled there after having had to leave property from before that and so on and so on through the centuries and the millenia

being simple minded all I want to know is, does Israel consider itself to be the sovereign in that area. If yes it should act as is a sovereign's right

this whole quest of trying to be the most righteous people on earth and the demands of Jews outside of Israel to forever striving harder to attain this goal seems to me to be not a promising path for the living Israelis. I don't know about diplomatic niceties but I cringe (and feel sorry for) every time Israel feels to or has to deliver arguments for its right to exist and having to do so by becoming supernaturally righteous gets me into a state in the same way.

Silke

Yaacov said...

Silke,

The answer is yes, Israel regards itself the sovereign in all of Jerusalem. The West Bank was never annexed, but East Jerusalem was, in June 1967. That's why Netanyahu insists to the Americans that he can be presured about the West Bank but not about Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

Just what a great blog this is. A highly interesting read every day.
Please keep going!

Regards from Germany,

Markus

Danny said...

Yaacov - Can you please explain to me why you are not proud of the fact taht Arabs cannot reclaim property that was taken over by Israelis. Did these Arab flee Jerusalem during the fighting upon assurance from Arab leadership or were they exiled by Israeli forces? It is clear that Israelis were banished by the Jordanians, so property reclamation is sensible. But the case for Arab land reclamation seems fuzzier. The fact that a foreign power (Jordan) illegally invaded Jerusalem contrary to the Partition Plan and resettled Arabs in Jewish property - this is clearly illegal. But once the Arabs violated the Partition Plan, why should Israel respect their property rights. I am struggling with this dichotomy, and would enjoy your analysis. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Yaacov
are you trying to say that the famous photo of the tête-à-tête of Hitler and the Mufti is possibly a fake?
If yes, who is the most suspected party to have faked it?
or are you talking about some other charismatic?

Silke

Gavin said...

Looks awfully complicated, why does everyone make such a mess of things over there Yaacov? One does have to ask... why didn't they just pay the rent? I'm sure that NIF or some other such group would have forked out the cash if the tenants didn't have the dosh.... or did the activists deliberately set these families up to be evicted?

It's not a good look from the moral perspective. The basic reasoning is that if Jews retain ownership of land that was confiscated from them in earlier times then Arabs who lost their land still retain ownership too. Messy.

Gavin

Anonymous said...

Yaacov,

I want to second Silke's question about the meeting between Amin Al-Husseini and Hitler. Are you really saying that it did not take place? I thought that it was recorded in detail in German government archives.

David E. Sigeti

Yaacov said...

Silke and David -

My mistake, that's all. They did meet.

Yaacov said...

Oh, and Raptor, too. Thanx for the reference.

Joe in Australia said...

being simple minded all I want to know is, does Israel consider itself to be the sovereign in that area. If yes it should act as is a sovereign's right

Absolutely. And as a modern, liberal state which is sovereign over its territory it should respect property rights - no matter whose they are. In this case it seems that the right rests with the pre-1948 Jewish owners. In other cases it will rest with Arab owners.

And Danny - I think it's very reasonable to flee from a battle zone. Why should it have any bearing on property rights?

Anonymous said...

I am displaying my ignorance here, but is anyone here knowledgeable about ethnic Germans fleeing/being expelled from the Sudetenland, Silesia and Alsace at the end of WWII? What happened to their property? What happened to them? Is it a comparable case?

Nycerbarb

Anonymous said...

Nycerbarb
if anyone should ever aspire to untangle movements of German population after WW2 and probably just as interesting after WW1 when the fashion was to hope that separating people by blood would bring peace forever it would certainly be history worth to read.

Even the number of those who have been expelled after WW2 (they insist on being called expelled) is thrown around as millions this and millions that, figures by more serious seeming historians are regularly shouted down even by our president who happens to be one himself.

Right now we still have a ballot-relevant group who goes on and on and on about their lost property enraging especially the Polish on a regular basis - right now our expelled are aspiring to becoming the super-righteous of the world via getting a museum of displacements all over the world and the millenia. The Poles who were moved westward on the other hand seem to have decided to live in the present and the future and accept that their Eastern neighbors are not easily moved by mere words.

For me it always boils down to that we had relatives who had managed to get a job in Lodz (then Litzmannstadt) and they were talked about and envied no end for all the butter and the lard they had access to for years and years after the war. I have no idea what happened to them after Herrenmenschen-Glory stopped. Maybe they became refugees/expelled?

That said - we in the West were on our worst behaviour with the refugees, ridiculing them endlessly (rot und blau Polack-Frau - red and blue Polish woman) and most certainly a lot of them were just civilians being at the wrong place at the wrong time but so were the bombed out and every attempt to rally them with the "we are victims too" cry in any numbers has failed. (we do yell "allied war crime" but no ballot relevant club has emerged)

Somewhere on the net there are maps showing power moves over the milennia - and as I remember the area from Elias Canetti's home town up to Poland stands a good chance to compete the area around Jerusalem for frequency of change.

So even if there may be injustices happening I think everybody will be better off, if cuts are made even if they should favour the having acted not super unimpeccably (fuzzy minded as women tend to be ;) I am nevertheless all in favour of returning stuff looted by us during the 3rd Reich for millenia to come - but returning land unless it has been uninhabited in the meantime creates new injustices endlessly and thus there should be cuts/deals whatever but for that to happen you have to have reliable partners on the other side of the table and parts of our German expelled do not seem to aspire to be that)

Silke

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Jews who once owned property that was taken over by the Jordanians in Jerusalem have some chance of recovering their property, while Arabs who once owned property that was taken over by the Israelis don't have a track to recover it. I was unaware of this, and am not proud of it now that I know it.

Congrats, Yaacov. You've just learned what I knew all along. This proves that, although I don't live in Israel and my main problem is whether I'll be able to get tickets for my son and me for the soccer game this Saturday, I can talk about Israel with the same authority as you.

the charismatic Palestinian leader who may have chatted with Adolf Hitler about the need to add the Jews of Mandatory Palestine to the Final Solution

His charisma notwithstanding, the Mufti was not elected by the Palestinian people. He was appointed by a British official who happened to be Jewish. The ironies of life.

Anonymous said...

oh Mr. Fake
I am sooo glad you are back - I have missed you terribly

oh and BTW just in case there is a competition going on here
- you may be as much of a knowledgeable authority as you claim I am still waiting for you to ever admitting to not having known something. Measured by those standards Yaacov is winning against you by miles

Silke

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Silke.

So sad, so sad. It is boggling the ability of humans to take a bad situation and make it worse.

Nycerbarb

Gavin said...

Ibraham. Before you went making a fool of yourself yet again you might have liked to have read the document Yaacov linked to from Ir Amin, which makes your 'speaking with authority' claim the subject of derision. The legal basis for evicting the families was their refusal to pay rent, plus the fact that they had no ownership rights to the properties. They were settled there by the Jordanians and they were charged rent. They were tenants, not landowners. They never had any claim to actually owning the properties so your argument is spurious.

Gavin

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Gavin:

That's why I linked to my blog, where I give concrete cases of Arabs whose property was taken away by Israel and have no legal avenue to recover it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Fake
you are not serious in hoping that the stuff you tend to write around here makes one want to visit let alone trust your blog?
All your horror incidents amount to nothing as long as the people you advocate for, demand in official documents the annihilation of Israelis.
Once they'll have publicly and very very humbly apologized for this terrible behaviour and amended their ways I might consider to listen with polite attention to them again.
In the meantime they scowl at every smile directed at them in the street or in the doctor's waiting room or or or - and they have managed to impose all kinds of discomfort on their civilised compatriots.

And just to be clear in school I was taught to admire the ancestors of those people on every school excursion when we were shown in yet another church or Schloss the beauty of their influence on our own builders and our teachers never failed to mention the superior standards of hygiene they had at the time while these days their "fighters" prefer to misappropriate sewage pipes for their missile construction shops.

Silke

AKUS said...

Joe in Australia - very good points about the use of the passive voice.

Something to look for in future commentary on this issue.

Yaacov said...

Nycerbarb -

Millions of refuges from Eastern Poland, never allowed back. Millions of Germans from Easter Europe, never allowed back. Millins of Indians and Pakistanis from India and Pakistan,never allowed back. Millions of Koreans, never allowed back (butwho'd want to). And those are merely the famous cases. Then you can start on the minore ones, such as Italians from Slovakia etc. The Palestiniansare the only ones still around from those 1940-1950 tidal waves of refugees. The others all are settled, generations ago.