First Sheikh Jarrah, Then Baka? — Op-Ed in The Forward

Haim Watzman

Mike Huckabee recently made a virulently anti-Zionist remark — and the Jews who accompanied him on his tour of East Jerusalem cheered.

“It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want,” declared the once and future Republican presidential candidate and current Fox News pundit. The statement came after he visited a Jewish settlement, Shimon Ha-Tzaddik, in the middle of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

For years, Israeli settler organizations have been moving Jewish families into Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, most prominently in Sheikh Jarrah, Ras al-Amud and Silwan. In many cases, the organizations have been buying up Arab property, often in legally questionable ways. In others, they have asserted claims to houses that Jews once owned, but which were occupied by Palestinian families after Israel’s War of Independence left East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule.

The latest hotspot in Sheikh Jarrah is of this second kind. . . .

Read the rest in The Forward–Comment there or here.

17 thoughts on “First Sheikh Jarrah, Then Baka? — Op-Ed in <em>The Forward</em>”

  1. I do not claim to be an expert on these matters but the matter is not a simple as made out in this article. Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand, when Jews come to reclaim properties held before 1948 in places like Jerusalem and Hevron, which were lost in the War of Independence, they pay the current Arab tennants to leave. If they don’t , they can pay rent to the original owners but they still have the right to live in the property. Regarding Sheikh Jarrah, those Arabs who were evicted refused to pay rent to those ruled as having ownership by the Court. There are other Arabs who do pay rent and were not evicted. Similarly, in west Jerusalem there is much property that is owned by various Churches. Israel built dwellings there without receiving explicity permission to do so from the Churches, but the Churches do have the right to collect rent, which, I understand, they do.
    Thus, if the original Arab owners of the property in Baka or Sheik Munis (site of today’s ‘progressive’ Tel Aviv University), maybe they would be able to demand rental payments but they would not have a direct right to order your Yedidya Congregation or TAU to pack up and leave.

    In any event, it is odd that you, as a moralist “religious dove” are now using arguments based on the concept “might makes right”…..”we threw them out, so we get to keep their property!”.

  2. I don’t know the facts of the case, but I agree 100% with Mr. Watzman’s general argument. The argument about “Jews having the right to live anywhere” is totally bogus, and it would be so even there weren’t similar Arab claims to property inside of Israel. Jews do not have a right to live in any foreign state without that state’s permission, and if Israeli authority over most of Judea and Samaria is seen as temporary as per Resolution 242, then policy should reflect that fact.

    Along with this is the practical, realistic fact:
    any solution to this conflict, whether a full solution or (more likely) a partial measure, will be based almost entirely on national or group rights at the expense of individual rights. Individual rights, whether of property owners or “refugees,” will not be honored. Thank God for that.

  3. Ploni-
    So then you are saying that Israel made a mistake in not throwing ALL the Arabs out of Israel in 1948, which would them make them “foreigners” with no rights in Israel? That’s the reason you give for defining Jews as “foreigners” in Judea/Samaria, even though many Jews lived there before 1948.

  4. Haim, I think you should set an example for us. Give your house in Baka to a Palestinian and then perhaps occupy an apartment in Paris which was Jewish before the German occupation. That will make everyone happy. Otherwise, you are not putting your money where your mouth is

  5. Huh? Nimrod, I can’t imagine a more backwards reading of what I wrote here. Please read again.

    YBD, you persist in setting me up as a straw man for you to knock down. If you paid attention to what I’ve written here and elsewhere, instead of reacting to your stereotype of me, you’d know that I think that the use of military might is sometimes necessary and proper.

  6. Haim-
    Yes, sometimes use of military might is necessary and proper and that it is fitting to utilize the fruits of victory. You say it is okay to take what we captured in 1948, but it is immoral (I use the word “immoral” instead of “impractical” because I believe that the first term is how you perceive the Judea/Samaria settlements) to take what we captured in 1967. I don’t see the difference. I believe you, as a Zionist, are being inconsistent. I, as I have stated before, have no problem with someone using the second term, “impractical” (i.e. someone saying”yes, we have the right to live in Judea/Samaria in principle, but, for practical reasons we should waive that right”), and view that as a logical, if, inaccurate, view of the situation. But this is not the message you are giving out here. And I am not the only one here who is confused by your position.

  7. Mike Huckabee what a joke. It’s amazing how stupid the right is in Israel to even ask this moron to come there to give support to their cause. Mike couldn’t win the Republican candicacy if he was the only contestant. They must like his creationist credentials and his attachment to the so-called Christian Zionists.

    A word to Y who loves to malign liberals ;Y, anti-semitism , the old right -wing standby, is alive and well in the health care debate. Witness the illiterate colloquy from a right-wing “nutjob “directed at Barney Frank yesterday ,the Congressman from Massachusetts at a town hall meeting (see today’s New York Times on-line) and his wonderful retort. Scratch the veneer of the right-wing and it’s wholly owned subsidiary Fix News and you will find a sesspool of anti-semitism. When I was in Israel ,Fox seemed to get a big play,maybe thats why the right asked one of their “boneheads” to speak.

  8. I wish Huckabee was just a joke, but I don’t think so. It does show how easy it is to get Republicans to adopt your sound bites if you call Obama a Nazi for not sharing your point of view.

    That’s the latest thing, of course. If you don’t like somebody’s political position, call them a Nazi. If Obama thinks Palestinian evictions in East Jeruasalem in favor of Jewish owners and tenants is unhelpful to the peace process, call Obama a Nazi for not letting Jews live where they want in Jerusalem. Call Obama a Nazi for “death panels” that don’t even exist in the proposed health care bill. Call Frank and members of Congress Nazi plan supporters. Nobody likes Nazis, so this way you can turn the American electorate around against Obama, no truth (or thinking) required.

    Perfect material for “Fix”ed News and their audience (it may have been a typo, but I like it!)

  9. Haim
    I am not confusing your viewpoint at all. You and Gershon spend all of your time on this blog promoting yourselves as “righteous Jews”. You document the occupation of Palestine by Jews at the same time you live on land that was occupied by Palestinians. You and Gershon have so far been unable to refute the argument made by “phillips brooks” that if land was taken from Arabs in 1967 was stolen, then why was land taken from Arabs in 1948 bit stolen. Religious zionists would have no problem with this. They would say 1) G-d gave us the land, and 2) We won the land in war, and it doesnt matter whether it was 1948 or 1967.
    States who win property as a result of winning wars generally can decide what to do. Just as Jews have lost title to property in Arab lands (and in Europe after WWII), Palestinians have lost title to property in areas conquered by Israel. If you want to change this age old custom, give your home in Baka to Palestinians (and Gershon should do the same) and move to a house in the 4th Arondissement of Paris. Otherwise, you are not “Righteous Jews” but just old fashioned hypocrites

  10. Nimrod-

    Some think we can still give and take land through some form of natural or historic or religious rights or raw might. But the world has evolved to having a body international law, largely since the end of WW2. We should be thankful for it.

    You completely dismiss international law. You completely dismiss that Israel has signed onto international law seeking to becoming a member of the UN. You completely dismiss conveniently the bright line that has been drawn for all nations, including Israel: No territory is to be gained though war.

    The ’67 war does not confer upon Israel “age old” or “old-fashioned” rights. But Israel has a right to protect it’s security . So long as Israel can make that claim legitimately to the world, then there is some justification for occupation and preventing Palestinian self-determination. That excuse is wearing very thin and will wear thinner if Palestinians no longer threaten with organized terrorist acts.

    States who gain property through war cannot any longer decide what to do without consequences the likes of which Israel has been largely spared since ’67 (which is contrary to claims that the UN and the international community has been unfair to Israel).

  11. Suzanne, just to clarify, security considerations after a war can justify temporary, military occupation of conquered territory. That’s also consistent with int’l law. If however the enemy is deemed still so dangerous as to warrant such a military occupation (as Israel has never tired to claim for 42 years) then settling your civilian population in that territory would be sheer madness, multiplying potential points of friction, effectively multiplying the length of the border your army will have to defend. It’s downright de-consolidation in a way.

    And that gives the lie to Israeli claims of security reasons for the occupation.

    If we assume however that the reason for the occupation was territorial gain then all these contradictions dissolve nicely. In that scenario, predictable resistance against both military occupation and “Judaisation” of the territory is used to justify both the continuing occupation and the settling of civilians. One of several perspectives on the settlers is that of voluntary hostages: they are there – strategically placed as they are – so the army will have something to defend.

  12. If there is no international law, and were no enforcement at all, then Iran or any other nation can and would attain nuclear weapons with no consequence, in order to protect it’s security…there is no impediment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons

    If there were no international law in operation, then Iraq under Saddam would now hold Kuwait, for instance…no, Kuwait was liberated by US soldiers, not international law

    It cannot exist as a fortress while holding onto territory that the rest of the world agrees belongs to those who were dispossessed in 48 and 67….if Israel cannot hold onto territory belonging to those displaced in 48, then why can Arabs hold onto Jewish property of Sephardi Jews displaced after 1948 (oops, that never happened)

    The UN is only as good as it’s members make it…see Durban 1 conference, zionism is racism, etc

    To trash the UN and international law on behalf of Israel is chutzpah…more resolutions have been passed by the UN against Israel than against all other nations combined. The near total focus of the UN against Israel has allowed genocide to occur unfettered in the Congo, Bosnia, China, Darfur, Iraq, etc.

    This conflict has been going on for far too long…here we agree, but ask yourself whether your actions (and those of AZcowboy) are bringing the conflict any closer to resolution

  13. To correct a wild misunderstanding of my comment: Jewish foreigners – noncitizens – have no right to reside in a foreign state, i.e., one where they’re not citizens. Nor do non-Jewish foreigners. While Judea, Samaria and Gaza are (I think) legally under Israeli jurisdiction, Resolution 242 says that jurisdiction is temporary for territories there. Once that jurisdiction ends, Jews will have no right to live there, any more than they have any right to live on the East Bank (part of ‘eretz yisra’el) now. Settlement policy should reflect that, as it should have since 1967.

  14. Ploni
    did theft all of a sudden become illegal with the passage of Resolution 242. I thought the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” was written well before 1967. If one truly believes that “Thou shalt not steal” is true, then Jews do not have the right to live in stolen Palestine, any more than they have the rights to steal the Philippines or other lands that they have no claim to

  15. I believe you, as a Zionist, are being inconsistent. I, as I have stated before, have no problem with someone using the second term, “impractical” (i.e. someone saying”yes, we have the right to live in Judea/Samaria in principle, but, for practical reasons we should waive that right”), and view that as a logical, if, inaccurate, view of the situation.

    And I think you’re being inconsistent. The Arab residents within the 1948 borders were given Israeli citizenship and the right to vote. I suspect you’d be against giving the Arab residents of the West Bank similar rights, though I’m happy to be corrected.

    (And yes, East Jerusalem is a more ambiguous case precisely because of this.)

  16. Raghav-
    The future of Judea/Samaria will be an INFORMAL Israeli/Jordanian/Palestinian condominium. Arabs there will be represeted in Jordanian and/or Palestinian institutions, Jews will work through Israeli institutions. I emphasized the word “informal” because the Arab side could never officially accept such a thing, but it is inevitable that such a situation will evolve due to the impossibility of reaching a formal peace agreement. In fact, it is evolving at this present time, even though it is still politically incorrect to admit it due to the fact that the American administrations (both Republican and Democrat) are still pushing fruitless “peace negotations” because they can’t think of anything else that will keep their allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia happy. Eventually, everyone will realize that this is a dead end and a better modus vivendi will appear.

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