Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements Jerusalem Palestinians

Settlers won’t let Palestinians “forget” the past

Conventional wisdom has it that the Palestinians should learn to accept the consequences of the catastrophe that befell them in 1947-1948. They should swallow their bitterness and find a way to move on and stop trying to reclaim property lost 60 years ago, just as other defeated peoples have moved on after war has ravaged them. Apparently the right wing settlers who are moving in on Jerusalem don’t want to let them.

There has been a flurry of publicity over the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Settlers have barrelled there way in, claiming that the property in the “Shimshon ha-tzadik” compound was technically owned by Jews.

A fine piece by Arnie Arnon puts it in perspective:

Before 1948, according to the mayor and his supporters, the ownership of the disputed property belonged to Jews. It’s true that Arab families have lived in the buildings since then, but now they must leave the houses and return the ownership rights to the Sephardic Community Committee, which held the ownership rights the year the State was established. In customary legal language, this is called “restitution”. In other words, the property will be returned to its owner.

But will the mayor, in the name of justice and consistency, call for restitution of Palestinian property found in west Jerusalem? Or does Israel, by force of power or by force of Israeli legislation, aspire to work to return the property to Jews but not to Arabs? True, the Israeli legislation which designed the land laws, including laws of absentee landlords’ assets and other pranks, makes it possible to turn Arab property into Jewish property but not vice versa. But is there anyone who believes that by doing this, an illegitimate act is turned into a legitimate one?

Or, as Bernard Avishai puts it: “By this standard, there is hardly a Jew living in established neighborhoods of West Jerusalem who would not be turned out of their homes (including the one I am writing from).”

A response from the right was offered in Yediot by Yair Gabi, who insists that we never forget that it was the Jews who originally fled from these homes because of a catastrophe that occured in, you guessed it…1948:

Unfortunately, upon the declaration of the State’s establishment in 1948, following riots, bombardments and unstoppable attacks, the Jews were forced to abandon their houses in this neighborhood, and had the Arab rioters not lost in the War of Independence they would have also cleansed Rehavia and Talbiyeh of Jews…

…The leftists are basically claiming that Jews must concede their property, as the Arabs have also abandoned homes in which Jews live today. My response to this is that there are no free meals and no free wars, and there must be a price for launching a war, otherwise the Arabs will have no interest in avoiding it…

…It’s true that the Arabs also abandoned homes during the war, but human morals recognize that this is the price of the war they launched. Therefore, there is no justification in returning these homes to Arab hands.”

In other words, rather than urging them to find a way to accept the consequences of the past and move on, the settlers want the Palestinians to keep paying for it, again and again and again, with new evictions, new reminders of stark double standards, newly lit matches dropped into the tinderbox of East Jerusalem.


32 thoughts on “Settlers won’t let Palestinians “forget” the past

  1. Title is by individual entity (individuals, families, corporate), not by national collective.

    Consistent, color-blind.

  2. By insisting on the “Palestinian right of return”, it is the Palestinians who refuse to forget the past. And you “progressives” demand in the name of “peace”, that they should forget it so that you can ease your guilty concience. They say they are fighting for justice. You expect them to give it up for your convenience?

  3. The reason for the Palestinians giving up the right of return is not to salve the progressive conscience, but rather to prevent the state of Israel from becoming demographically swamped by a population that will not integrate with the Jewish population. It is for a similar reason that the Palestinians demand that the settlements be removed as well as basic parity with the other Arabs states making peace with Israel.

    It seems that the easing of the guilty conscience is on your part, YBD. You always insist that the Palestinians won’t give up this or that, mainly so that you and your fellow settlers will also not have to give up anything. So that the only ones giving up anything are the ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who want peace.

  4. And law is law.

    If title to land can be substantiated in a color-blind court system, then that is enough to justify residence.

    There are layers of right of return:
    1. Living former residents that have some documentation or other evidence supporting their prior residence and title to land.
    2. Direct descendants of former residents that may still have valid property claims
    3. Descendants of direct former residents with no current potential individual title claims
    4. Politically defined descendants of any association with any Palestinian identified family

    State expropriation by eminent domain (even if resulting from the 1950’s laws prohibiting return and annexing abandoned land to the state) should be compensated.

    Forced expulsion after the 1950’s should result in compensation and restored right to reside.

    Only application of point 4 would change the Jewish nature of the community. And, that is absurd to ask for, and likely won’t be seriously.

    But points 1 – 3 are comparable to other war reparations settlements, and is consistent with the Israeli primary law guaranteeing equal due process before the law in a color-blind manner.

    Applying title law through the judgement of a color-blind judiciary, relying on evidence over assertion or decree, shifts the status of property from contested to consented.

    Political jurisdiction is also reconcilable, and results in peace.

    Its a commitment. A commitment to the rule of law.

  5. Ordinary Palestinians who want peace have no say in the matter. Did most Germans want a world war in 1939? Did most Iraqis think Saddam’s war with Iraq and then two wars with the US were a good idea? Do the people of Gaza enjoy being under HAMAS rule?

    In any event how many Palestinians are there that really want peace on the terms that you, Tom, and the rest of the “progressives” are willing to give them? If you want to believe the polls that Shiqaqi fellow does and which are publicized in Israel and the rest of the world, it is a minority IIRC (i.e. regarding giving up the right of return).

  6. And you and your buddies make sure that doesn’t change by keeping up the level of hatred by further settlement, land expropriation, crop destruction and other harassment of the inhabitants of the territories. Irredentism can be given up if it is given time to heal. That is why Hamas keeps up its bombing campaign.

  7. And you and your “progressive” friends keep up the hatred by insisting on living in Tel Aviv, by refusing to return the land stolen (as the Arabs see it) in 1948, by refusing to recognize the Palestinian right of return, by bombing the heck out of Gaza and Lebanon.

  8. Yakov,
    You accept Tom’s assertion that you and your buddies conduct land expropriation, crop destruction and further harrassment?

    That is a lot to admit.

    Law is current. To deny law is to deny Torah. Torah does not give authority to expropriation or decree. In fact, it compels the oppossite.

    Maybe Torah isn’t important to you.

  9. Here is a fine article from Ha’aretz about the shift in the Arab/Muslim world’s strategy against Israel which has shifted from military confrontation towards delegitimization. The writer points out that signing “peace agreements” with the Arabs, including the Palestinians would have no effect on this onslaught, it might even intensify it. It is very infuriating (to me, at least) that JEWS, including even people who call themselves rabbis like Brian Walt are now becoming leading players in the efforts to delegitimize and boycott Israel.

  10. Dissenters work to deligitimize Israel that is simultaneiously Jewish AND democratic, and Israelis and Israeli administrations work to delegitamize Israel that is simultaneously Jewish AND democratic.

    The art of governance is to find policies and practices that affirm the dual nature of Israel rather than defend only one primary characteristic.

  11. Witty,

    It is a contradiction in terms to suggest that Israel is Jewish AND democratic. It is either one or the other. You are conflating democracy with tribalism.

    Y. Ben-David,

    The Haaretz article is yet another farcical attempt to argue that any situation that denies Israel getting its way constitutes a threat to it’s existence.

    It is a false argument, because Israel existence is already an undeniable fact.

    This is just another conflation to justify Israel’s refusal to acknowledge and accept the Arab peace proposal. The Arab peace initiative is very confronting to the Israeli right wing. It
    includes every demand Israel has ever made, thus Israeli propagandist find themselves going to extraordinary lengths to invent rationales for Israel’s ongoing rejection of it, while still trying to maintain the facade that Israel wants peace.

    Some of the arguments we have heard include:
    a) the peace proposal is dangerous, which is most revealing as it implies that peace threatens Israel
    b) that the peace proposal is a Trojan horse
    b) that signing it would not achieve anything, in spite of the fact that 22 Arab states have signed it, and that Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran have said they would accept it

    The reality is that Israel has always favoured land over peace. Tzipi Livni let the cat out of the bag when she stated that a long ceasefire was not in Israel’s strategic interests. Coming from a so called dove in Israeli politics, this statement is most revealing.

  12. Obama admits failure in policy on Arab-Israeli conflict:

    Wasn’t this what I and others have been warning about for a very long time? How is it common citizens understand things better than “the experts”? Is it surprising that a politician who never accomplished anything other than smashing the Clinton political machine (a pretty mean feat, actually-beating McCain was no big deal) would foul up in this because the liberal Jewish advisors who kept telling him the fallacy that the Arabs had already agreed to peace “along the lines everyone knows the terms of” and all Obama had to do was force Israel to go along didn’t know what they were talking about?

  13. Hi Rich:
    I have to ask you something about your boy Phil ( Hitler should have finished the job ) Weiss. The new kick seems to be that Israel is helping in Haiti due to some sort of plan that fits into the international Jewish conspiracy. And his fan base is eating it up. Interesting take. What say you?

  14. Can you PLEASE stop that idiocy? My son at 14, at his first day of his new school after introducing himself as Jewish, was confronted with that by a student writing that on his new book cover.

    It sickens me. There is NO WAY that you are going to convince me or others to adopt your excessively defensive approach by that language.

    You know what I say about your question, if you’ve read the blog.

    I’ll say it again.

    Helping others is good. Helping others breaks barriers and prejudices. It stands on its own. Its better that it is scene as it stimulates goodness in others.

    Just for reference, your not encouraging aid but only talking about the politics of who said what, is similar to what you criticize.

  15. Rich you can’t argue the fact that your good buddy wishes that all the Jews in Europe were ground up for fertilizer. Then ipso facto no Israel. And since Israel is the fountain of all evil that has ever happened then the world would be better for him and his little side kick Horowitz. I would say his wife but he does seem to write very admiringly of the physical aspects of Palestinians that he meets.

  16. The only possible way to peace: dialogue, modus vivendi, respect for each other’s values, rejection of violence, rejection of the phony “peace process” industry….only the religious-right wing-settler groups can have a meaningful dialogue with the Arabs and can formulate REAL understandings between the sides:

  17. Your a tough nut, Pearlman.

    You know my theme, which is mutual humanization.

    There substantive elements to Phil’s and others’ criticisms that give the malevolent in the world fuel. To continue to ignore the substantive criticisms, is to ADD fuel to their arguments, not to deter them.

    If you want the pro-Palestinians to have validity, then continue to expand settlements as a state enterprise, continue to regard East Jerusalem as Israel rather than as Palestine. Continue to accept discrimminatory practises to law within Israel.

    There is no action that adds to their credibility as much as those.

    When those actions are stopped, changed, then the pride that I and others feel for Israel’s existence and hopefully practice, will be substantiated. Until then, our pride is mixed with a bit of shame.

    Radicals seek to exagerate that shame. Rightests seek to ignore it.

  18. And what substantive elements are in Phil Weiss’s argument. Not to mention his friends, the ZOG element. Oh that’s right I forgot that Phil uses that term also. Lets fact it Rich, the guy would have made a dynamite kapo at Aushwitz, and would have been cheering the process along. But I really would like to ask you this. Are his parents proud of him, what he has become? you know them, what’s the answer?

  19. Was he always like that. Was it a reaction to his bris. You have to admit he does seem to have a serious attraction to good looking arab men. Not that ther is anything wrong with that.

  20. You two are very much alike, but you are more extreme.

    You both resist being asked to be considerate of your neighbor.

    The substantive arguments include the failure of the Israeli state to afford equal due process to all residents, per its Primary Law.

    And, the illegality of annexation of occupied land to the Israeli state (sovereignty), and the illegality of expropriation of others’ land (title).

    Courts, not rhetoric, are the mediators of both disputes.

  21. Still haven’t answered my question Rich. You know the man, and his family. He obviously has a deep seated hatred of Judaism. Other wise he wouldn’t bask in the adulation of the neo-nazi jihad brigade. And don’t tell me he doesn’t, he does. He believes that Jews and Israel are the fountainhead of all evil. How does that differ from Bin Laden. Or to be perfectly frank, Hitler. Where does it come from? Enlighten me, I’m serious.

  22. Hey Dan: The new senator from MA is a very pro-israel guy. It’s got to aggravate you and Rich. Not to mention Phil (Hitler should have finished the job) Weiss. Any comments.

  23. Here is an article quoting one of the negotiators for Olmert with the Palestinians and how he explains that the Palestinians were not prepared to make any compromises for peace. He said the approach was “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and he says there is no possibility of this leading to an agreement. So now he says to first reach agreement on the “easy things” like the borders (!?) and them implement this. This, of course is truly imbecilic, because Israel only gives in this way and never receives anything in return (true peace). There could never be Israeli political support for such a suicidal policy.

  24. Interesting article Y. Ben-David Says, especially considering that Tzipi Livni, was quoted in 2008 of saying that a long ceasefire was not in Israel’s strategic interests.

    I leave it to you to explain how peace can exist in the absence of a ceasefire.

    It was Barak who was the fist to coin the phrase, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

    As for your absurd statement that “Israel only gives in this way and never receives anything in return”, it is pure garbage. Israeli supporters typically frame the debate not in terms of what Israel is required to do under international law, or what the Palestinians are entitled to, but what Israel is prepared to give up.

    Can anyone imagine a car thief expecting come praise for returning a stolen car to the owner, with the engine and sound system missing?

    In any case, the article cites one source, Udi Dekel, who can hardly be considered an impartial commentator.

  25. “Not to mention Phil (Hitler should have finished the job) Weiss. Any comments.”

    Yes, for a start, what do you base the “Hitler should have finished the job” alias on?

  26. I saw an interview with Dan Meridor (who supports the “2-state solution”) saying that he opposes the “first let’s implement what we agree on” strategy, because after “defining the borders” (which ultimately would mean uprooting tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and handing over Judaism’s holiest places to the Arabs to desecrate), then the Arabs would say “now that that’s done, we want you to recognize the “Palestinian Right of Return” and we will discuss how you will implement it. All of this before any discussion what the Arab side will do for peace. No Israeli government would be able to stay in power under such conditions.

  27. So, agree on right of return first.

    All living individuals that formerly resided in geographic Israel have the right to compensation for any property taken (even under the 51 law), and right to reside in Israel.

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