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Aug-03-2009 00:42printcommentsVideo

Ground Shifting Under Israel's Feet (VIDEO)

In her March visit to the area Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out forcefully against the threatened evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem.
Illegal Israeli settlement
"Israel's continued settlement building could hurt Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations." -- Condoleezza Rice (15 June 2008) Courtesy:

(CALGARY, Alberta) - In the early 1950s, Israel enjoyed much support from around the world because of international guilt over the Holocaust. Today, sixty years after the nation’s founding, and after decades of Israeli overreaching, increasing numbers of people, even those who support Israel, are getting tired of the two-faced hypocrisy that has become Israeli national policy. As Tom Friedman wrote in Sunday’s New York Times:

“For the last 40 years, a succession of Israeli governments has misled, manipulated or persuaded naïve U.S. presidents that since Israel was negotiating to give up significant territory, there was no need to fight over ‘insignificant’ settlements on some territory. Behind this charade, Israeli settlers bit off more and more of the West Bank, creating a huge moral, security and economic burden for Israel and its friends.”

On the ground, the battle continues. On Sunday, before dawn, Israeli police in riot gear forcibly evicted two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. They had lost a long legal fight to remain in the contested properties when Israel's Supreme Court ruled that Jewish families owned the land. This encourages more Jewish people to live in the predominantly upscale Arab neighborhood. Israel wants to build a block of 20 apartments in the area. East Jerusalem is currently about 250,000 Palestinians and 200,000 Jews.

This particular issue began in the 1950s when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The two houses were built by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Jordan gave ownership of the houses to the families who moved into them but, by 1967, Jordan had still not formally registered them officially as owners. In the Six Day War, Israel captured East Jerusalem.

Isabel Kershner, writing in the New York Times, says

“In the early 1970s, a Jewish association claimed ownership of the land around the tomb based on property deeds from Ottoman times. At first the Palestinian families agreed to pay rent to the association in order to continue living there as protected tenants. Mr. Abu Hussein [lawyer for the evicted families] said they stopped paying when he discovered the Jewish property deeds were forged. Eviction orders were issued, though the authenticity of the property deeds is still being debated in the Israeli courts.” The site is near a tomb held by Jews to be the ancient tomb of Shimon Hatzadik, or Simeon the Just, a Jewish high priest from the days of the Second Temple.

Two peculiarities here. The first is that the authenticity of the deeds should have been established before any evictions. But this is an action consistent with Israel’s disregard of the law when it suits their own purposes. The settlements are a good example. Some outposts exist that are not even legal under Israeli law and Israel has “agreed” to remove them. Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank itself are illegal under international law.

The second peculiarity is the Jewish association’s claim of ownership around the tomb going back to Ottoman times. If this is taken as a precedent, then the Palestinians can similarly go back to Ottoman documents and if they do, the whole case of Israel as a country collapses. Am I the only one to notice this apparent contradiction, or am I drawing a conclusion based on inadequate knowledge?

Nasser Ghawi, one of the evicted Palestinians, said his family had been living in the house for 53 years. Thirty-eight members of the Ghawi family were removed from six apartments that made up one of the houses. Maher Hanoun and sixteen members of his family were evicted from the other house. Hanoun said that he and all his children had been born in the house.

Police cordoned off the street denying access to journalists, but according to witnesses, as soon as the evictions were complete, “Jewish nationalists” (settlers) moved into the houses—obviously a pre-planned event with the connivance of the Israeli government. What happened here is part of a decades-long strategy on the part of the Israelis. Kershner writes that “continued Jewish settlement, especially in the heart of Arab neighborhoods, is seen by the Palestinians and many countries and international groups as prejudging the outcome of negotiations over the future status of the city and strengthening Israel’s hold on it.”

Israel as aggressor and instigator

Israel’s policy from 1949 to 1967, according to Moshe Dayan who was the Israeli defense minister at the time of the war, consisted of "snatching bits of territory and holding on to it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us." Dayan said this in a 1975 interview that was not made public until 1997.

“After all, I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let's talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was.”

The Israeli evictions on Sunday have provoked international condemnation.

In her March visit to the area Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out forcefully against the threatened evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem.

The UK government said the Israeli action was "incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda".

Robert H. Serry, the United Nations special Middle East coordinator, described the evictions as “totally unacceptable actions by Israel. These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory. These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace.”

But, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month "Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable. We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem."

It comes down to theological intransigence. The extremists are setting the Israeli agenda.

Here is Al Jazeera's report on the families being forcibly removed from their family home by Israel:



Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which explains why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue, although a lot of his views could be described as left-wing. He understands that who he is, is largely defined by where he came from. The focus for Daniel’s writing came in 1972. After a trip to Europe he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Alberta, and Calgary in particular, was extremely conservative Bible Belt country, more like Houston than any other Canadian city (a direct influence of the oil industry). Two successive Premiers of the province, from 1935 to 1971, had been Baptist evangelicals with their own weekly Sunday radio program—Back to the Bible Hour, while in office. In Alberta everything was distorted by religion.

Although he had published a few pieces (unpaid) in the local daily, the Calgary Herald, it was not until 1975 that he could actually make a living from journalism when, from 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman (1979-1993), Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting with the CBC. You can write to Daniel at:

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Anonymous August 3, 2009 9:09 pm (Pacific time)

I am certainly not defending the Israelis during that war in massacring some Egyptians. But soldiers do terrible things during warfare. The US has the My Lay massacre in Vietnam and the machine-gunning of South Korean civilians underneath a bridge during their retreat after China entered the war. I was not able to confirm it with an Internet search, but I remember reading about a journalist at Juno Beach on D-Day seeing Canadian soldiers march some German prisoners to the other side of a dune. When the journalist went over to take a look, he found the Germans on the ground with slit throats. After one of their buddies was killed, an American unit in Iraq went bonkers and killed a bunch of civilians in Anbar Province. I do not remember Israel utilizing a 20 year statute of limitation involving any Nazis they tracked down after World War II.

Daniel Johnson August 3, 2009 12:35 am (Pacific time)

Take it for what it's worth but I just cut and am pasting a paragraph from Wikipedia under the topic "Six Day War", you can look it up and its references if you want to: "According to a New York Times report of 21 September 1995, the Egyptian government announced that it had discovered two shallow mass graves in the Sinai at El Arish containing the remains of 30 to 60 Egyptian prisoners shot by Israeli soldiers during the 1967 war. Israel responded by sending Eli Dayan, a Deputy Foreign Minister, to Egypt to discuss the matter. During his visit, Dayan offered compensation to the families of victims, but explained that Israel was unable to pursue those responsible owing to its 20-year statute of limitations. The Israeli Ambassador to Cairo, David Sultan, asked to be relieved of his post after the Egyptian daily Al Shaab said he was personally responsible for the killing of 100 Egyptian prisoners, although both the Israeli Embassy and Foreign Ministry denied the charge and said that it was not even clear that Sultan had served in the military." I find the 20 year statute of limitations interesting. If Hitler lived to be 1,000, they would still be pursuing him--no statute of limitations, there. (I am only using Hitler as an example.)

Anonymous August 2, 2009 11:57 pm (Pacific time)

This is disturbing. At the risk of sounding hysterical, it appears that the Israelis are acting more and more like the Nazis did in the 1930s. I Am Not suggesting that they are massacring Palestinians, but merely acting like thugs and thieves. It would be nice if the United States would simply condition our continued financial support (which mostly comes from non-Jewish taxpayers) upon the Israelis withdrawing from the West Bank. I would not even be opposed to the Palestinians paying a fair market value for the building improvements made to the settlements. It could always be underwritten by the Saudi's. But you are known both by your actions and the actions of your friends. Israel is a bully, but the United States doesn't look very good either. As a non-Jewish American taxpayer I object to my tax dollars, or even money borrowed from China, that will need to be repaid by tax dollars, to support the continued bullying and exploitation of the Palestinian people. Damn AIPAC, the politicians who are only distinguished by the velocity on which their knees hit the floor when AIPAC speaks, and even Rahm Emanuel (Obama's Chief of Staff), who holds dual Israeli/American citizenship, and is probably more loyal to Israel. He did after all service in their army during their invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006. I've not heard anything about any such service to the United States. And please don't talk about him being in the House of Representatives, as we know whom the members of Congress are actually ‘serving.’

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