[News] The untold story of Sheikh Jarrah

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Tue May 11 21:32:25 EDT 2021


https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210512-the-untold-story-of-sheikh-jarrah/#.YJsjsyYtxX0.facebook
The
untold story of Sheikh Jarrah
Dr Ramzy Baroud - May 12, 2021
------------------------------

There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories. One is read about and watched
on the news, the other receives little media coverage or due analysis.

The obvious story is that of the nightly raids
<https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/11/sheikh-jarrah-residents-speak-out-on-israels-forced-expulsions>
and violence meted out by Israeli police and Jewish extremists against
Palestinians in the devastated East Jerusalem neighbourhood. For weeks,
thousands of Jewish extremists have targeted
<https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/palestinians-drive-jewish-settlers-out-of-sheikh-jarrah/2235052>
Palestinian communities in Jerusalem's Old City. Their objective is the removal
of Palestinian families
<https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/sheikh-jarrah-neighborhood-in-jerusalem-the-full-story/2233523>
from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. They are not acting
alone. Their riots and rampages are directed by a well-coordinated
leadership composed of Zionist and Jewish extremist groups, such as the
Otzma Yehudit party and the Lehava Movement. Their unfounded claims,
violent actions and abhorrent chant "Death to the Arabs" are validated
<https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-death-to-arabs-palestinians-need-protection-from-israel-s-racist-jewish-thugs-1.9747860>
by Israeli politicians, including Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and the
Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King.

Here is a little taste of the political discourse of Ben-Gvir and King, who
were caught on video
<https://twitter.com/OrenZiv1985/status/1390572090554736640> shouting at
and insulting a wounded Palestinian protester. The video starts with MK
Ben-Gvir yelling disparagingly at a Palestinian who was apparently wounded
by Israeli police, yet returned to protest against the evictions planned
for Sheikh Jarrah.

Ben-Gvir is heard shouting, "Abu Hummus, how is your ass?"

"The bullet is still there, that's why he is limping," responds Deputy
Mayor King, who continues: "Did they take the bullet out of your ass? Did
they take it out already? It is a pity it did not go in here." He points to
his head.

Delighted with what they perceive to be a whimsical commentary on the
wounding of the Palestinian, the politicians' entourage of Jewish
extremists laugh.

While "Abu Hummus", wounded yet still protesting, is a testament to the
tenacity of the Palestinian people, King, Ben-Gvir, the settlers and the
police are a representation of the united Israeli front aimed at ethnically
cleansing Palestinians and imposing a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Another important factor in the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign
in the occupied city is Israel's court system, which has provided a veneer
of legality for the targeting of Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The legal basis of the Jewish settlers' constant attempts to steal more
Palestinian properties can be traced back to a specific 1970 law, known as
the Legal and Administrative Matters Law
<https://peacenow.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Legal-papaer-batan-sheikh-jarrah-eng.pdf>,
which allowed Jews to sue Palestinians for properties they claim to have
owned prior to the establishment of Israel on the ruins of historic
Palestine in 1948. While Palestinians are excluded from making similar
claims about the properties from which they have been driven since 1948 —
this is what apartheid looks like – Israeli courts have generously handed
Palestinian homes, land and other assets to Jewish claimants. In turn,
these homes, as in the case of Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian
neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, are often sold to Jewish settler
organisations to build yet more colonies on occupied Palestinian land.

In February, the Israeli Supreme Court awarded
<https://peacenow.org.il/en/%D9%8Dsheikh-jarrah-appeal-rejected-160221>
Jewish settlers the right to have Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
Following a Palestinian and international backlash, it offered Palestinians
a "compromise", whereby the families relinquish ownership rights to their
homes and agree to continue to live there as tenants, paying rents to the
same illegal Jewish settlers who have stolen their homes in the first
place, but who are now armed with a court judgement.

However, the "logic" through which Jews claim Palestinian properties as
their own should not be associated with a few extremist organisations.
After all, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 was not the work of a
few extreme Zionists. Similarly, the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem,
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and the massive settlement
enterprise that followed was not the brainchild of a few extremist
individuals. Colonialism in Israel was, and remains, a state-run project,
which ultimately aims to achieve the same objective as that being carried
out in Sheikh Jarrah: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Palestinians to
ensure a Jewish demographic majority.

This is the untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, one that cannot be expressed by
a few sound bites on the news or in social media posts. However, this most
relevant of narratives is largely hidden. It is easier to blame a few
Jewish extremists than to hold the entire Israeli government and
establishment accountable. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is constantly
manipulating the subject of demographics to advance the interests of his
Jewish constituency. He is not only a strong believer in an exclusive
Jewish state, but also fully aware of the political influence of Jewish
settlers. For example, shortly before the 23 March General Election,
Netanyahu gave the green light
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210408-israel-approves-540-settlement-units-in-east-jerusalem/>
for the construction of 540 illegal settlement units in the so-called
Har-Homa E Area — Mount Abu Ghneim — in the occupied West Bank, in the hope
of acquiring as many settler votes as possible.

*READ: **Rhetoric about international intervention is an excuse for risking
nothing, while Palestinians risk their lives
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210511-rhetoric-about-international-intervention-is-an-excuse-for-risking-nothing-while-palestinians-risk-their-lives/>*

Hence, while the Sheikh Jarrah story is garnering some attention even in
mainstream US media, there is a near-complete absence of any depth and
context to the coverage, including the fact that Sheikh Jarrah is not the
exception but the norm. Sadly, as Palestinians and their supporters try to
circumvent
<https://thewire.in/world/palestine-jerusalem-forcible-removal-families-sheikh-jarrah>
widespread media censorship by reaching out directly to civil societies
across the world using social media platforms, they are often censored
there, as well.

One of the videos initially censored
<https://www.newsweek.com/sheikh-jarrah-evictions-posts-being-censored-instagram-say-palestinians-1589634>
by Instagram, for example, is that of Muna Al-Kurd
<https://www.instagram.com/p/COX3KPHHx9p/>, a Palestinian woman who had her
home in Sheikh Jarrah stolen by a Jewish settler by the name of Yakub.

"Yakub, you know this is not your house," Muna says outside her home,
addressing the settler.

"Yes, but if I go, you don't go back. So what's the problem? Why are you
yelling at me? I didn't do this. I didn't do this. It's easy to yell at me,
but I didn't do this," he replies.

"You are stealing my house."

"And if I don't steal it, someone else is going to steal it."

"No. No one is allowed to steal it," insists Muna.

That, in a nutshell, is the untold story of Sheikh Jarrah and of Jerusalem;
in fact, of Palestine. Muna is Palestine, and Yakub is Israel. If Muna is
ever going to get justice, she must be allowed to reclaim her stolen home,
and Yakub must be held accountable for his crime.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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