Sheikh Jarrah (and what the media won't tell you)

Sheikh Jarrah is a mainly Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem, which has been much in the news in recent years. What is the truth behind it?

- You may have heard that Arabs are being evicted. In fact, the Supreme Court has been considering a case where some properties would have to be demolished to make way for  a special needs school. [1]

- However, you will not have heard, anywhere, about the luxury gated community (right), populated by foreign settlers. Just WHO could they be?

- According to a medievel tradition [spoiler alert: it almost certainly isn't true], Sheikh Jarrah is the burial place of Shimon HaTzadik, a High Priest of either the third or fourth centuries BCE.

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- Unquestionably, it is the site of very ancient Jewish tombs. In 1876, the land was purchased by Jewish organisations from the Ottomans and it remained in Jewish hands until 1948, when the invading Jordanians decided they wanted it to be Judenrein and expelled the Jewish property owners. 

- When Jerusalem was reunified in 1967, the property owners understandably wanted their land back and a dispute rumbled on until 1982, when Arab residents signed an agreement recognising their right to remain there as tenants. [2] Later, in 2003,  the properties in dispute were purchase by an organisation called Nahalat Shimon, which aims to acquire land beyond the green line and lease it to Jews. 

What the media won't tell you

- The last eviction was in 2017. Far from "Palestinians being thrown out of their homes", each eviction has taken years of legal wrangling. In the 2017 case, the Shamasna family had refused to pay rent for years [3] and the eviction was delayed 18 months to give them time to find another home [4]. If it had happened in Glasgow, it would barely merit a paragraph in the Evening Times, and the UK Supreme Court would not have spent years anguishing over it. 

- The sign at the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah (above) is familiar from news reports. Pan the camera 180° and you will find the 5* American Colony Hotel. If the media have got it booked up, there are plenty of luxury hotels within a short walk. All in all, it is a very agreeable place from which to virtue-signal and write unfavourable stories about Israel.

- Sheikh Jarrah is a very ordinary Arab neighbourhood, with lots of car repair businesses and, certainly when one of our Trustees took a stroll round it a couple of times, is a very friendly place with more adverts for video games and gym memberships than evidence of anyone being persecuted.

- However, there remains one rather UNpleasant fact. Remember the gated community at the top of the page? Lots of space in those luxury apartments (and Jerusalem property prices are NOT cheap) for Arabs being evicted, surely? Maybe the locals would like to play on the basketball court; picnic in the landscaped gardens; have their children play in the private playground, or take a drive in the fleet of SUVs? Just WHO could thse foreign settlers be? After all, a plaque on the outside wall tells you that it is "Occupied Palestinian Territory". WHO is occupying it?

Yes, an eyewatering amount of shekels/dollars/pounds have been splurged by the World Health Organization, ensuring that its officials don't have to mix with the hoi polloi, or experience any hardship. Can you think of any better use for your taxes?

Sources: [All accessed 11 August 2022]

1. https://jewishunpacked.com/sheikh-jarrah-the-story-behind-the-story/

2. https://www.standwithus.com/factsheet-sheikhjarrah

3. https://www.israel365news.com/94394/arab-squatters-evicted-jerusalem-house-owned-jews-140-years/

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