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What’s Mine Is Mine, and What’s Yours Is Mine Too

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A Palestinian man argues with Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir during protests in Sheikh Jarrah today.
A Palestinian man argues with Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir during protests in Sheikh Jarrah today.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP

It’s happening once again, this time in Sheikh Jarrah. Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in West Jerusalem are slated to be evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem too. Why? Because the homes in which they’ve legally resided for 160 years or more were built on land that was once owned by Jews.

On the face of it, it is merely a real estate dispute. But in actuality, it is an event that holds much wider implications. It is yet another outrageous instance of the extent of Israeli discrimination and oppression. The Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Jerusalem have no shortage of property.

Almost half the city is built on their lands. So what’s the problem? The Jews can go regain the lots they absented in the eastern part of Jerusalem and the Palestinians will go regain their property in the western part. But this is where the Zionist trick comes into the picture: Only Jews may sue to claim property from which they fled or were expelled. Palestinians are only entitled to forget the properties from which they fled or were expelled.

This is the unique version of justice that is practiced around here: What’s mine is mine forever, and what’s yours – is also mine forever. In the Jewish Mishna, someone who behaves this way is called an “evildoer.” In the Jewish state, someone who behaves this way is called a “religious Zionist.”

I Me Mine

This ongoing injustice can be traced back to a most malicious law passed by the State of Israel before it was even two years old – the Absentee Property Law. It should have been called the “Law Authorizing the Theft of Palestinian Property.” Israel used this law to steal nearly all the Palestinian private, public, business and agricultural property.

This law does not make the merest attempt to be fair, just or compassionate. It contains no right to fair compensation, no aid, no kindness, no consideration. Nothing. Except for a legal stamp of approval for vile acts.  

The matter is about to come before the Supreme Court. Presumably, plenty of other countries, like Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and others will be following the ruling with interest – in short, all the countries that stole the property of Jews who were murdered,

If the court reaffirms Israel’s right to steal the property of the “absentees,” they will surely raise a toast in celebration and relief. “We’re just doing what you’re doing,” they’ll smilingly tell the representatives from organizations seeking to reclaim lost Jewish property. “What’s okay for you, is okay for us too – isn’t that so? So you won’t get a cent from us. Get out of here!”

And at a time when the International Criminal Court in The Hague is finally showing interest in the actions of Israel the occupier, the Israeli court’s stature could also be dealt a blow as a result of this episode. To Israeli authorities, the Supreme Court is seen as the most effective vaccine, a dependable flak jacket, against indictments of war crimes. Its justices pass judgment on us, so the justices of The Hague are rendered unnecessary.

But bear in mind that only the Israeli government and Donald Trump recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem. The rest of the world views it as occupied territory to which all the international laws of war apply. Including the ban on dispossessing “protected” people under occupation of their residences, damaging their property or denying them property rights to their plundered assets.

There is no telling how understanding the ICC will be to a ruling that approves another expulsion of an occupied population from its homes, and how much this will hurt the Israeli Supreme Court’s effectiveness as a “flak jacket” to repel international criminal charges.

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