The Jerusalem property rights dispute is a landlord-tenant issue, not a matter of forced eviction
Sen. Bernard Sanders had a guest essay in the May 15 New York Times rushing to blame Israel's "legal system" for "facilita[ting] ... forced displacement" of Palestinians in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. He added that "those evictions are just one part of a broader system of political and economic oppression" of Palestinians by Israel.
Too bad Sanders did not wait until he had a chance to read the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal the same day, by Avi Bell and Eugene Kontorovich, "Almost Nothing You've Heard about Evictions in Jerusalem Is True." (Likely, Sanders would not have been impressed with their factual recitation of the Jerusalem property dispute.)
Bell and Kontorovich point out that the litigation about property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood "is a dispute between private properties." In the instant case, write the authors, "the owner is an Israeli corporation with Jewish owners whose chain of title is documented back to an original purchase in 1875." Consequent to the original Arab aggression against Israel, May 15, 1948, including Jordan's invasion of Jerusalem, Jordan "occupied half of Jerusalem expelling every one of its Jewish inhabitants and seizing their property."
Bell and Kontorovich point out that after Israel removed Jordan from Jerusalem in the 1967 fighting, Israel still recognized the titles of property that Jordan had transferred to Palestinians. They add, "Where title had never been transferred, however, Israel returned the land to their owners." They continue:
Title to the properties in dispute in Sheikh Jarrah was never given by Jordan to Palestinians, so Israeli law respects the unbroken title of the plaintiffs. ... The plaintiffs and its predecessors in title, the authors report, have spent four decades in court seeking to recover possession of the properties.
Still, Israeli courts have regarded "the Palestinian squatters and leaseholders alike as 'protected tenants' and would shield them from eviction indefinitely if they paid rent," Bell and Kontorovich write, adding, "They have refused to do so."
Perhaps this point noted by the authors would not impress the socialist Sanders: "The laws involved are the same as any landlord would invoke." Perhaps for the socialist Sanders, a squatter is absolved from paying rent, particularly if he declares a cause that moves Sanders's ideological heart.
Certainly, Sanders, cool to the Jewish state, would not be impressed by this observation from Bell and Kontorovich:
There is only one objection in this case: the owners are Jews. Western progressive have elevated the desire of some Arabs not to have Jewish neighbors into a human right and a legal entitlement that even the Jewish state must protect. (snip)
The manufactured controversy this time is an attempt to pressure Israel effectively to perpetuate Jordan's ethnic cleansing in the name of human rights.
Bell and Kontorovich end their op-ed with this observation:
The real story behind Sheikh Jarrah is a microcosm of the conflict: Israel is condemned for policies that are entirely unremarkable, while discrimination against Jews is proclaimed to be a rule of international law.
That Hamas seized on the property dispute in Jerusalem between private parties to commit aggression against Israel suggests that for Hamas, the property at issue is not only a particular neighborhood in Israel's capital but all of Israel.
The anti-Israel bias of Sen. Sanders is obvious from this expression of malice in his guest essay: the United States "can no longer be apologists for the right-wing [government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "and its undemocratic and racist behavior." The title of the Sanders column is "We Need a New Mideast Approach." The meaning? We ought to take an adversarial posture vis-à-vis the Jewish state. After all, his invidious essay ended with these exclusionary three words: "Palestinian lives matter."
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