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Reparations for Jews but Not Palestinians

B. Michael
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Arab refugees from Haifa disembarking at Port Said, Egypt, May 3, 1948.
Arab refugees from Haifa disembarking at Port Said, Egypt, May 3, 1948.Credit: Keystone/ Getty Images
B. Michael

What suckers the Germans are. Had they passed an Absentees’ Property Law in time, they would have saved themselves a superfluous expenditure of billions of euros in reparations payments. So simple, so effective.

To all the people it exploited, Germany could have said: “We’re sorry, but you weren’t here on the designated day. The day of the resurrection of the new Germany. That’s why our law determines that you are an 'absentee,' and everything you once had is now ours. So don’t bother us with brazen demands, okay?”

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But the stupid Yekkes didn’t think of that trick, and for that they paid dearly.

The young State of Israel was far more clever. Even before it was two years old, it had already passed an amazing Absentees’ Property Law that releases it from any preoccupation with the petty demands of nudnik Palestinians who insist on claiming their looted property.

The main provision of this law is very simple: A Palestinian who by chance was not present within Israel’s borders on November 29, 1947, or who was there but left by September 1, 1948 (in other words, during all the months of the war and the Nakba), will be considered “absentee” and can forget about all of his or her property.

To put it more simply: Did we expel you? Did we kill you? Did you flee from the war? Great. All your property – is ours. That’s what the law says. And as everyone knows, we are law-abiding people.

This useful principle of “absenteeism” applies only to Palestinians, of course. Jews are exempt from it. A Jew is never an “absentee.” Even if he was absent for 2,000 years.

Last week this same unique epitome of Israeli hypocrisy, wickedness and racism was exposed once again. Once again the district court ruled that dozens of Palestinians will be uprooted from their homes in Jerusalem, and those homes will be handed over to Jews. The property was once under Jewish ownership, and therefore will return to Jewish ownership. It’s true that the Jews were "absent" from the houses for decades but, as mentioned, Jews don’t know how to be “absentees.”

Some of the families being evicted, most of them refugees from ‘48, have property in Israel. Homes in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa. But they can’t demand return of that property. Because they are “absentees.” They live in Jerusalem but they are absentees. Palestinians, as we have also learned already, are very good at being “absentees.”

And so, Jews are also (rightly) continuing to demand, all over the world, what was stolen from them in the course of hundreds and thousands of years. By wars, expulsions, persecution and evil laws: in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Iraq, Syria, etc. etc. etc.

A Palestinian is not even permitted to demand the house from which he was evicted 70 years ago. A house that is within spitting distance of the house from which he will be evicted two weeks from now. That's Israeli justice – which is based, you will recall, on the vision of “the prophets of Israel,” as is written in our Declaration of Independence.

We could also have made do with a citation from "Ethics of the Fathers" (5:10): “One who says, ‘What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine’ – is wicked.” But who gets upset today over the epithet “wicked”? It’s almost a compliment.

More fitting would be descriptions from the vision set out in the Book of Micah (Chapters 2, 3): "Ah, those who plan iniquity and design evil on their beds. When morning dawns, they do it, for they have the power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away. They defraud men of their homes. And people of their land... Who build Zion with crime, Jerusalem with iniquity! Her rulers judge for gifts, her priests give rulings for a fee, and her prophets divine for pay. Yet they rely upon the Lord, saying, 'The Lord is in our midst. No calamity shall overtake us.' Assuredly, because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field. And Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins. And the Temple Mount a shrine in the woods."

The prophecies of Micah have already been fulfilled two or three times. Apparently we are now advancing toward the fourth time.

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