Opinion: Those who insist on evicting families from contentious Jerusalem neighborhood only harm Zionism, because no law will be able to convince international community Jews should retrieve century-old property, without applying same right to Palestinians

The fight over Sheikh Jarrah is no longer a private legal matter, it is a state, political affair, a bleeding wound that has become a focal point in international campaigns against Israel in recent years.

The vast majority of the claims made by the anti-Israel brigade usually come with great counterarguments. On the Sheikh Jarrah matter, however, there are no convincing arguments. Even Israel’s allies, and there are many, can understand that prolonging the battle over the contentious East Jerusalem neighborhood only harms the Jewish state.

התפרעויות בשייח ג'ראח
Sheikh Jarrah riots (Photo: Amit Shabi)


The focus of this issue is no longer the legal claim of Jews to have their property returned. The Palestinians in the neighborhood rejected all settlement proposals that were laid out for them in court because they know that the Sheikh Jarrah saga has become potent fuel to light the anti-Israeli propaganda.

The Palestinians must be complete idiots to receive millions of dollars as compensation, while continuing the propaganda can bring them hundreds of millions more.

But Israel has but succumbed to the stubborn bunch who demand “rights” instead of expropriating the territory and extinguishing the fire because that is what the national interest requires. And every visit by far-right legislator Itamar Ben-Gvir to the neighborhood is yet another precious gift that adds more fuel to said propaganda.

איתמר בן גביר
Far-right legislator Itamar Ben-Gvir (Photo: Amit Shabi)


But “hold on,” the extreme right-wing members, say. This is the story of the Zionist movement. We made Aliyah, we settled, and we built, we are the true successors of “Tower and Stockade” – a settlement method used by Zionist settlers in Mandatory Palestine. This is how the idea of a kibbutz was established and this is how Israel was born despite Arab resistance which still continues to this day.

However, there is no bigger lie than that. Zionism is a result not just of Jewish longing for Zion, but also of persecution and pogroms. We were refugees in those days, until the decision to establish the State of Israel, we didn’t evict anyone. We bought the lands, we redeemed the lands, and we fought for the fundamental right that many nations fought for: the right to self-determination, to establish a homeland for the Jewish people.

We were hunted in Russia, Iraq, Poland, and Yemen, and we have fulfilled the goal at a terrible cost of human life. The Arab side rejected any proposal for a compromise and said no to both the 1937 and 1947 divide of the territory into two states. And when they threatened to annihilate us and started a war, they failed. We pushed them back, and again many paid the ultimate price – their lives.

And yes, during the war there were deportations, of course, there were. And it should be mentioned that during those years, deportations and population exchange were the norm.

הפגנת אנשי ימין בשייח ג'ראח
Right-wing protestors at Sheikh Jarrah (Photo: AFP)


But now we have a sovereign and a strong state, the comparison between “Tower and Stockade” to Sheikh Jarrah is both far-fetched and nurtured by anti-Zionist propaganda. According to them, Zionism is an act of dispossession, and people like Ben-Gvir only provide justifications for this kind of thinking.

We are in a different era, we are not hunted refugees anymore, and you (extreme right-wing members) are not the successors of the Jewish pioneers from the old days. You don’t assist the Zionist vision, you only harm it.

In the legal context, there are justifications to return the Jewish property in Sheikh Jarrah to its rightful owners, in accordance with Administrative Matters Law from 1970. But under the current circumstances, no legal argument will convince a serious person that there is a justification in returning Jewish property while preventing the return of Arab one at the same time.

The stubborn claim is one that ruins every argument made by Israel against the return of property to Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and even Jaffa. In the long run, the fight over Sheikh Jarrah will fulfill the vision of a “one-state solution”- which will be neither Jewish nor democratic.

A Jew and a Palestinian confront each other with their mobile phones amid ongoing tension ahead of an upcoming court hearing in an Israel-Palestinian land-ownership dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem May 5, 2021
A Jew and a Palestinian confront each other with their mobile phones amid ongoing tension ahead of an upcoming court hearing in an Israel-Palestinian land-ownership dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem May 5, 2021(Photo: Reuters)


Right now we are in the middle of an horror show – where a small group, the tip of the extreme right-wing iceberg is dictating the agenda. Over the past few days this team’s most valuable player, Ben-Gvir, has become a superstar. The media covers him non-stop, while he is playing us, just like the Pied Piper, dragging us to more and more unnecessary conflicts.

In Ben Gvir’s previous attempt to establish an office in the neighborhood on May 7, 2021, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened the far-right lawmaker. “If you don’t leave Sheikh Jarrah, rockets will be fired upon Jerusalem,” he said.

Three days later – rockets were fired on Israel’s capital in the middle of the day. And on Monday, Netanyahu had the audacity to say that “this is not the Sheikh Jarrah, this is Jerusalem”.
There is no limit to hypocrisy. Hamas is guilty of the violence, not Ben-Gvir, but he already spilled oil once and ignited the conflict, there is no need to do it a second time.

As reported by Ynetnews