Violence against Arabs

11 May 1998 1

Ali Abunimah <ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu>

Dear NPR News,

I want to thank you for Linda Gradstein's report on Morning Edition today, about the violence and harassment that Palestinians face when they live in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The introduction to the report also mentioned for the first time the fact that such attacks and harassment are escalating and that five Palestinians have been stabbed in recent months. Unprovoked violence, petty harassment and humiliation by settlers, police and the occupation forces is a daily reality for Palestinians, whose desperate security needs are subordinated by the media to those claimed by Israel.

I want to comment on two aspects of the report: In the report, Ms. Gradstein focussed on two young Palestinian women who have taken an apartment in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Musrara. Gradstein characterised this as a "Jewish" neighborhood. She should have mentioned that, prior to 1948, Al-Musrara and many other western Jerusalem neighborhoods were Arab, and that the property in them was seized from its owners without compensation, and their Arab inhabitants expelled. This includes many of western Jerusalem's most desirable and expensive "Jewish" areas such as Old Katamoun, Al-Baq'a, Romema as well as others.

Gradstein also failed to challenge Israeli Jerusalem "mayor" Ehud Olmert's assertion that anyone "has the right to live in any part of Jerusalem." It is a black-and-white fact (not a matter of opinion) that this is false. The black-and-white is the Israeli law that applies to all houses built on so-called "state land" confiscated from its owners and held "in trust" by the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Land Administration. The law forbids the sale or lease of apartments to any person unless "they would be eligible to benefit from the Law of Return if they were a non-citizen resident outside Israel." In other words, since the Law of Return applies only to Jews, this is a pretty direct way of saying non-Jews need not apply. These laws apply to approximately 90% of the real property claimed by Israel.

These Zionist Jim Crow laws are enforced as strictly in the occupied territories and the vast illegal settlements that ring occupied eastern Jerusalem (such as French Hill, Ma'aleh Edumim, Ramot, Gilo, Talpiot, Ramat Eshkol, Neve Yaakov, and the soon to be built "Har Homa."), as they are within Israel proper. Witness the furore in recent months over the attempt by an Arab Israeli couple to buy an apartment in the Israeli new town of Notsrat Illit ("Upper" Nazareth), built on confiscated lands of the city of Nazareth. In that case, widely covered in Ha'aretz, the authorities exercised a quick legal manoeuver to transfer the property to the JNF, just in time to prevent the couple form exercising their "right" to live anywhere in Israel.

Finally, it is a bit rich for Mr. Olmert to call the two beleaguered young women "political activists" when he is the champion and defender of Ateret Cohanim extremist Jews whose middle-of-the-night raids to take over Arab homes in occupied eastern Jerusalem, have contributed to the destruction of the city. Ms. Gradstein should have challenged the "mayor" on these points.

Sincerely,

ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu

(Visit the new website of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) at http://www.aaan.org!!!)