Thursday, July 1, 2010

From Jerusalem to Mondoweiss

Various readers have asked me about my position on the Silwan story, while others have taken me to task for the position they think I've taken.

I haven't taken a position. I have criticized Bernard Avishai's blogpost on the matter for his treatment of history, not its particular politics on Silwan, and I've pointed out that the City of David is a very important place in Judaism and has been for abut 3,000 years. Beyond that, I'll try to present a fuller picture once I've finished looking into some of the relevant facts.

In the meantime, however, Elder of Zion has some interesting facts and photos about the village of Silwan and its serial ethnic cleansing of Jews over the past century. If you're already over at Elder's place, you might be interested in Adam Levick's guest post about Mondoweiss the Jewish Jew-hater.


NormanF said...

The correct position is Jews have the right to live anywhere they want in Jerusalem and its none of the world's business when they exercise it. Jews have lived in Jerusalem when all the modern nations were just a gleam in the eyes of history.

RK said...

NormanF's comment reminds me why the right so turns me off sometimes.

Here's a better argument for Barkat's plan, which points out that eminent domain is commonly used to gain access to sites with archeological value. Furthermore, it seems Avishai's aside that this would leave the residents of the 22 Palestinian residences "homeless" was wrong: Barkat says that the residents will be moved elsewhere in Silwan.

On the other hand, it's not clear to me to what extent the demolitions are archeologically necessary. Excavations are obviously already happening there (and have been going on since the mandatory period). If it's just to build a tourism center (which will apparently include restaurants and hotels), then that's a different matter. Lots of countries engage in condemnations for urban renewal, but at least in the US, it's extremely controversial. It's not surprising or unjustified that it would be even more controversial when the people being expelled are Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Also, the houses aren't actually being seized through eminent domain, but because of the fact that they don't have building permits. Everyone has already heard a million times about the fact that many Palestinian homes in Jerusalem are constructed without permits because Palestinians are disproportionately denied permits, but it's true, and it's shameful. If we're going to insist that the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians are justified by security concerns (as many of them are), then surely we have to take the lead in changing policies that are simply discriminatory and have no security justification.

In other words, I'm looking forward to hearing what facts Dr. Lozowick has found about the affair.

Anonymous said...


the clerk in me is asking immediately:

if Palestinians are denied building permits inf fact disproportionately is that due to discrimination or is it due to filing a disproportionate amount of faulty applications?

German civil servants can't go on strike (they get ample perks for renouncing that privilege) but they came up with working by the letter of regulations instead
- it proved to be very effective
- ever since that experience sometime in the early seventies I have been weary of accusations against bureaucracies, they are too easily outmaneuvered and made look bad in any way you want. So very very close scrutiny of any claim in that direction is always warranted
(that said I readily admit that all of us clerks in all administrations corporate and government alike are by our nature power hungry, evil, mischievious, lazy and out to make life miserable for as many people as we can get away with - If that were not so the public would of course have long ceased to hate us and complain about us, n'est-ce pas?)


AKUS said...

Fascinating history of Silwan.

Even though I think we are all going to have to agree to live in the here and now, and what happened 100 years ago or so should be set aside, at least the facts should be known.

The fact that Silwan was not "always an Arab village" but that a large part was made up of Yemenite Jews who were ethnically cleansed from Silwan by the Arabs with British connivance and there is a reasonable Jewish claim to part of the area should be known.

That claim could be traded off against similar claims by the Arabs.

Bryan said...

I hardly think "the Arabs are currently living in homes that they only inhabit due to widespread ethnic cleansing" is as good a claim as "the Jews were forced from their homes in widespread ethnic cleansing effected by Arab violence in other areas."

Anonymous said...

the second part is Latma's info on Silwan and the first part is apparently about two "misbehaving" Israelis but has this great statement

"we will not allow Shalit to interfere with our campaign for his release!"