Israel’s Supreme Court, in past decades known for upholding human rights, but lately known for upholding Israeli ethnic cleansing and the racist Nation State law, proposed a truly Solomonic solution in the Sheikh Jarrah eviction case. Remember the Biblical account of two mothers who claimed the same newborn child. Solomon’s proposal to them was to cleave the child in half and give half to each woman. That outcome, of course, should satisfy no true mother.
That is precisely what the justices ruled in this case. They essentially offered 1,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians who face imminent eviction half a baby, telling them they should be satisfied giving up ownership rights to their homes in return for acknowledging settler ownership and being permitted to remain living in them.
They’ve lived in their homes for generations. But courts have approved transfer of their homes to settler groups seeking to Judaize all of Jerusalem. They did this under the guise of a legal charade by which properties once owned by Jews before 1948, and then taken over by Jordanian authorities and given to Palestinians, could be seized and returned to Jewish hands.
It’s worth noting there is no such law permitting descendants of Palestinians whose land and property were stolen from them during from Nakba to reclaim what they lost. In fact, shortly after the 1948 War, Israel passed a law forbidding such victims from returning and claiming their property. Instead, it was turned over to the State as “abandoned” and awarded to Jews. Yet another example of the long history of racism and apartheid in Israel.
Pro-Israel apologists attempt to argue that the evictions have nothing to do with politics, but rather are a “simple real estate transaction.” There is never anything that is “simple” about Israeli-Palestinian relations.
In some cases, the thieving NGOs like Elad and Ateret Cohanim, would find relatives of the original Jewish owners who would “sell” the properties to them. In other cases, they would use Palestinian “agents” who “sold” the property to them; or even forged deeds of sale. This is the “glory” of latter-day Zionism, which uses every subterfuge in the book to steal Palestinian patrimony.
The justices devised a truly brilliant and innovative solution to this tough-nut of a problem. They declared that the current Palestinian residents could indeed remain in their homes for up to three future generations as “protected tenants.” But in order to obtain this status they would have to sign documents acknowledging the settler groups owned their property. You can imagine how “grateful” the Palestinians were that the Court had saved them and protected their assets.
In all seriousness, the defendants rejected the proposal out of hand, as the justices knew they would. They then offered a second proposal:
… The four families would receive protected status while instead acknowledging that Israel once registered the properties with previous Jewish owners, according to Ir Amim. It said the settlers rejected that proposal, while the families asked for more time to consider it.
After that, the justices offered a second, slightly more favorable proposal: the residents could remain in their homes as protected tenants without acknowledging the settler organization as owners. But they would have to accept that the State has registered the land in the name of the settler NGO. The Palestinians accepted this proposal, though it was a bitter pill to swallow. The NGO rejected it. So the matter remains unresolved. They continue to live in their homes with a settler Sword of Damocles hovering over their heads.
Meanwhile, human rights activists continue demonstrating daily in the streets on behalf of the residents, while Border Police thugs beat them mercilessly. At one point, they even shut down the streets to prevent any protests. But the “liberal” police minister in the new government directed his forces to reopen them and permit demonstrators to gather.
One of the infamous hallmarks of the Sheikh Jarrah rallies has been the presence of an obese Israeli-American settler hailing from that cradle of Jewish civilization, Long Island, Jacob Fauci. In a video that has since gone viral, he tells the camera that he has a right to steal the homes because “if I don’t do it someone else will.” Truly, eloquence reminiscent of the ringing tones of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
The Supreme Court ruling once again shows that Israeli justice is not independent, not fair and not just. It is law in the service of the settler state. The justices, a number of whom are settlers themselves, and all appointed via corrupt processes by far-right ministers like Ayelet Shaked, know on which side their bread is buttered, and rule accordingly.