Analysis: Putting The Facts Straight On Nachalat Shimon

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — With Israel under international attack over its response to the riots in Sheikh Jarrah and Temple Mount, and with bloodcurdling threats coming both from rioters and from Hamas and PA leaders, it is no surprise that even many Israelis cannot understand what the fuss is about.

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The lack of hasbara, or targeted PR on the part of Israel’s foreign ministry has led many Israelis to adopt the narrative of the Palestinians regarding Sheikh Jarrah. Even prominent journalists like Barak Ravid, political correspondent on Walla news, have simply presented the facts the Palestinian way, claiming that Israel is maintaining a double standard in the Arab neighborhood by evicting Arabs on the basis of pre-1948 Jewish properties, since there is no such legal recourse for Arabs claiming properties in Israel which they abandoned prior to the War of Independence.

Ravid claims the Sheikh Jarrah situation is causing Israel “crazy political and diplomatic damage” in the world and then cites Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, not known as a great ally of Israel, who tweeted that:

“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence.

“It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians.”

The problem is that the real damage is being caused by Ravid and his fellow journalists, since there is a real way to justify Israel’s actions but they are too lazy and biased to present it. A few historical facts will suffice to explain the Israeli position:

The Nachalat Shimon and Shimon Hatzaddik neighborhoods were built in 1890 north of the Old City. At the time the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah had not yet been established, although a number of Arab farms and properties existed. A 1905 census of all the Arab neighborhoods in the area (including other neighborhoods) showed 167 Arab families , 97 Jewish families and 6 Christian families.

Sheikh Jarrah, 1931

The neighborhoods grew and interacted peacefully until the 1936 Arab riots when the Jews fled and only returned afterwards. In March 1948 the Jews were evacuated by the British after the security situation there deteriorated. In the infamous attack on the Hadassah convoy near Sheikh Jarrah a month later 78 Hadassah doctors and nurses were burnt and butchered to death near the abandoned Jewish neighborhood, with the British preventing Palmach reinforcements from arriving to help the convoy. After the Palmach conquered the neighborhood on Pesach 1948, the British forced them to retreat claiming that they needed the road for their own purposes. They later informed the Arabs that they were leaving and the Arabs retook the neighborhood.

After the 1948 war the Jordanians transferred 28 families who had been displaced from Israeli territory to Jewish-owned land in Sheikh Jarrah but did not actually grant them title to the land. With the liberation of the Jewish neighborhood in 1967 (27 Iyar 5727), Israel did not immediately attempt to repatriate the former Jewish residents of the neighborhood but did recognize the rights of the original owner, the Sephardic Community Committee. It was agreed that the Arab residents on these properties would be protected tenants, paying rent to the committee. However they did not pay rent and made changes to the properties and therefore the Committee eventually requested to evict them. The eviction dragged through the Israeli courts for a long time, with the Arabs challenging the authenticity of Jewish property documents and only in the late 1990’s a Jewish presence was reestablished in the two neighborhoods after a number of families were evicted.

The present dispute is due to a similar situation, with Arabs ignoring their protected tenant status by not paying rent and the courts ordering their eviction. Moreover the protected tenants are only those that were there prior to 1967 but Israeli law allows their children to be evicted and this is why more cases are coming to court at present.

There is no analogy between this case and that of Arab neighborhoods and towns in Israel. The Arabs in these neighborhoods encouraged and provided assistance for armies and local gangs who attacked and looted Jewish neighborhoods. After the Jews repelled these attacks they also targeted the neighborhoods where they were based, causing mass Arab abandoning of these regions. Thus, far from being removed from their homes due to enemy aggression like the Jews of Nahalat Shimon, the Arabs left due to their aiding the attempt to “drive the Jews into the sea.” Restoring these Arab properties would be tantamount to granting the loser in the 1948 war an undeserved victory, effectively delegitimizing Israel’s actions since 1948 which were based on that victory as well as the 6500 Jews who fell achieving the victory.

Thus there is no historical basis for the comparison between the cases and if this argument were clearly articulated there would be no reason to protest the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah but unfortunately Israeli journalists choose to remain ignorant to these crucial differences.

 

 


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