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Erasing facts from Israel eviction story

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 05:05 PM
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Erasing facts from Israel eviction story
The Palestinian families evicted in East Jerusalem had failed to pay their rent a fact omitted from British media reports

Rafael Broch
Thursday 6 August 2009 11.00 BST

Mattresses strewn across the street, a child crying, a woman shouting in despair it was not a pretty scene in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem last Sunday, where two Palestinian families were evicted from the homes they had lived in for the last 50 years. Already a bitter pill to swallow, the sight of religious Jews immediately moving in to the properties can't have made things any easier for them.

However, things are not always what they seem and the eviction of the Hanoun and Ghawi families are an apt example of how an appetite for a certain type of story can create that story regardless of the facts. As an organisation that follows media coverage of the Middle East closely, we gathered from Sunday and Monday's reporting, such as on the BBC, in the Guardian and in the Times that the two Palestinian families were evicted because Israeli courts had found that the land belonged to Jews, not to the Palestinians living there. Cut to religiously clad Jews busting in to the newly vacated houses and the whole thing is just obvious: Israel mercilessly turfs Arabs on to the street to plant more settlers in east Jerusalem.

It turns out that this is simply not the case. In fact, there is nothing simple about this case at all. There is a long legal history pertaining to the dispute between 28 Arab families and Jewish organisations over the ownership of the land in question. However, one crucial point was omitted from all reporting from the British sources named above (bar a small amendment to the BBC article made yesterday following a communication from us): the two Arab families evicted on Sunday were evicted for failing to pay rent in violation of the terms of their tenancy agreements. The Arab families who have kept to the terms of their tenancy agreement have not been evicted.

It is true that the non-payment of rent is tied up with the dispute over who owns the land, but it is still intensely relevant to the story. It's all very well for the Guardian's Middle East editor, Ian Black, to describe the evictions as "the ugly face of ethnic cleansing" or for Cif contributor Matt Kennard to claim that they represent "a process of racial purification". But without informing readers that the only people being evicted are the ones who refused to pay rent to the landlords they recognised decades ago, they paint a distorted picture.
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FarrenH Donating Member (485 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 05:29 PM
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1. The comment section is worth reading
Edited on Sat Aug-08-09 05:37 PM by FarrenH
especially this:

"Key facts missing from this article, not erased but most certainly avoided. Presented in no particular order of importance, although 6 is a trump really.

1. Houses were built in the 1950's by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees
2. Jordan gave the families ownership of the properties, but not registered before the 1967 war.
3. Land claimed by a Jewish organisation in 1970's, citing Ottoman property deeds.
4. Palestinians paid the rent until the found out the Jewish deeds were forged.
5. Eviction undertaken even though the deeds are still legally disputed.
6. Israeli courts have no legal jurisdiction."

And especially the link to this blog entry from an Israeli:

Its worth noting that the Israeli court system also recently denied Palestinians use of a major road originally ostensibly built FOR them, at the cost of siezed private Palestinian property ( ).

I point this out not to slander the Israeli courts, but to illustrate that their rulings are constrained by Israeli law, which is itself discriminatory where Palestinians are concerned. Their ruling in an area they have no jurisdiction of in international law, based on created facts on the ground that are not factual in international law, can hardly be used as the basis for a moral appraisal of the situation.

That said, I appreciate the fact that you're trying to present a balanced perspective, given your distaste for the occupation.
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