Before I begin to address those dangers, I want to return to the matter of the extradition from Jordan of Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi, mastermind of the horrendous Sbarro terror attack 20 years ago. You will find my posting that includes this material here (scroll towards bottom):
I had written that there was no extradition treaty between the US and Jordan, because this is what I had read in various sources. But it turns out that the situation is more complex: Jordan says there is no treaty because it was never ratified by the Jordanian Parliament, but in point of fact the king, as the sovereign, has the authority to act, and has acted in similar circumstances.
What is more, the US State Department considers the treaty valid as it stands.
Thus do I ask again, please, that if you have not yet done so, you take the time – using the links I provided – to write emails to the White House and your elected representatives in Congress, requesting that maximum pressure be brought to bear on the king to extradite al-Tamimi.
I had asked you to place an email address in the BCC line of every communication you sent to government officials, so that they might be tracked. But I am embarrassed to say that I typed the address incorrectly.
The proper address is: email@example.com. If you have not yet written those emails, know that this is the address to utilize. If you have already written to officials, but did not spot the error (the @ was missing), please, go back to each of the emails you have sent, and forward it to the proper address.
Your assistance in this effort is greatly appreciated! When al-Timimi arranged the attack, she had screws placed in the explosives so that those who were wounded would suffer greater pain. She should not be walking free.
In my last posting, I mentioned the Malki Foundation (Keren Malki) founded by Arnold and Frimet Roth in memory of their daughter, Malki, who was killed in the Sbarro attack. I want to provide their URL for those who are interested in learning more or donating: https://kerenmalki.org/.
King Abdullah II is routinely referred to as a “moderate” who should not be pressured unduly. But we don’t have to look very closely to see something else.
It was recently revealed by the Jordanian Minister of Religion that the Ministry employs 850 workers at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Jordan annually spends about 56 million shekels (roughly $17 million) on maintaining these workers. But, while Jordan assumes the role of “guardian” of the mosque, it is difficult to understand precisely what 850 people would be doing in this regard.
Dr. Edy Cohen, who served for years in Israeli intelligence, has posed the question as to what 850 workers do there and has offered a plausible explanation (emphasis added):
“As anyone visiting the mosque can attest, no more than a few dozen Jordanian Waqf security guards are visible—not hundreds, and certainly nowhere near 850. So who are the others, where are they, and what are they doing?
“The most likely hypothesis is that those workers are used as mercenaries of a sort in times of crisis. Many significant gatherings have sprung up almost instantly on the Temple Mount
in recent years whenever the site deteriorated into violence…The Jordanian workers might serve as a ‘rapid incitement force’ that increases the volume of the event, stirs up the crowd, and stimulates it to conduct riots, or joins with the crowd to create a sense of ‘togetherness’ against the ‘occupation.’
He asks a great many other questions, as well, all of which require serious answers: Why does Israel allow such a large number? Do the Israeli security authorities know their identities? How many of them have been arrested, and how many are involved in riots or terrorism?
Israel’s response to this is part and parcel of the need to pay careful attention to threats and potential threats, and not look the other way.
And thus do I segue to the subject of dangers Israel faces. I want to look first at dangers within, for I believe they constitute our greatest threat. Time and again, and again, I have written about our need for strength. And as I monitor our current situation with distress, I will continue to do so.
The primary issue we will consider here – a deeply troubling issue – is that of the homes in the Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem owned by Jews and occupied by Palestinian Arab squatters who refuse to pay rent and won’t leave. It requires a careful review, for there has been so much disinformation afloat.
The neighborhood is referred to by Jews as Shimon HaTzadik because the grave of Simon the Just, a Second Temple high priest, is located there. The property was purchased by local Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities in 1875; it was registered in the Ottoman land registry as trusts under the names of two rabbis.
A small Jewish community lived there peacefully until the War of Independence, when Jordan illegally occupied the area and all Jews were forcibly evicted. Jordan, which maintained custodianship of the property, leased the land to 28 Palestinian Arab families but did not confer ownership upon them.
After Israel secured control of the area in 1967, a law was passed allowing Jews whose families were evicted by the Jordanians to reclaim their property, provided they could demonstrate proof of ownership and the current tenants could not prove transfer of title.
In 1973, ownership of the Shimon HaTzadik property was registered with Israeli authorities by the two trusts, in accordance with this law.
Then in 1982, these Jewish trusts sued the Palestinian Arab families living in Shimon HaTzadik, and demanded their eviction because they were squatters. A Magistrate Court determined that these families were not owners of the property, but had protected tenant status. This status entitled them to continue to live on the property as long as they paid rent and maintained the property. A document was signed by parties on both sides agreeing to this arrangement; in exchange for protected tenant status, the Palestinian Arab tenants recognized on paper that the Jewish trusts owned the property.
However, in spite of the fact that the right of the Palestinian Arab families to remain on the property was predicated on payment of rent, they persisted in non-payment – even after a court had ordered payment to be made.
Over the years, there have been evictions of some of the Palestinian Arabs living in homes in Shimon HaTzadik. Each eviction requires a political process that is lengthy. At issue now are just four families, representing no more than 50 people.
Beginning in 1993, the trusts began proceedings against these residents because of their non-payment of rent. In 2003, the trusts sold the property to Nahalat Shimon, an Israeli NGO that works to reclaim property for Jews. This NGO represents Jewish interests in all proceedings at present.
In February 2021, the Jerusalem District Court upheld an earlier court decision and found that in the absence of payment of rent, the Palestinian Arab residents of these four homes must vacate the premises. That non-payment of rent has persisted.
Claims are made regarding what the Israeli government is “doing” to these Palestinian Arab tenants. But it is a private NGO that is acting against them in accordance with legal procedures, and not the government at all.
This is a simple property dispute of a sort that routinely takes place around the world. The issues – involving property ownership, lease agreements and failure to pay rent – are purely legal.
It must be emphasized in the strongest terms that Israeli law is without bias with regard to the ethnicity of individuals involved in a legal case. The courts have not found that in some cases Arabs must be evicted from homes in which they have lived because they are Arabs and Jews own the homes. The decision concerning their eviction is one of law.
To refuse to evict Arabs who have not paid their rent for a very long time or who insist on their right to stay even after their lease has expired would be to deny the Jews their rights as the legal property owners.
After the District Court ruling in February, the four families involved in the current proceedings appealed to the Supreme Court. It was expected that a ruling would come in May. But May was when Israel was involved in a brief war with Hamas in Gaza and Arabs inside of Israel were incited to violence. There were riots in a number of “hot spots,” and Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) became one of them.
The lawful eviction of the four families became a cause célèbre that was presented as a deprivation of Arab rights by a repressive Israeli government that had “provoked” them to violence.
Wrote Ryan Jones: “Only the Palestinians could convince the world to see a property ownership dispute as an existential crisis.”
But this is the MO of many of the Arabs living in Israel: violence is threatened as a means of achieving what they want. Violence. Not compromise. Not dialogue. They don’t want Jews praying on the Temple Mount? They riot.
To accede to this violence or threat of violence is to succumb to extortion and to weaken Israel.
Secretary of State Blinken, in late May, expressed concern that evictions of Palestinian Arab families in eastern Jerusalem could spark renewed “tension, conflict and war” and “ultimately undermine even further the difficult prospects for two states.” That it takes unmitigated gall for a US official to comment on the due judicial process of a sovereign state seemed not to bother him at all.
The Court ruling was then postponed until the furor had cooled a bit. It was expected that a ruling would be handed down by the end of July.
Instead, on August 2 the Supreme Court came forward with something startling: a “proposal” for a “compromise”:
The proposed compromise would permit the Palestinian Arab families to remain in their homes as protected tenants. This would make it more difficult — but not impossible — to evict them. They would pay NIS 1,500 ($465) in yearly fees to Nahalat Shimon – a miniscule fraction of market rental value – apparently intended as a token.
In exchange for this the Palestinian Arabs would only have to recognize that Nahalat Shimon is registered in Israel as the owner of the property, NOT acknowledge that Nahalat Shimon was the owner. This is more than a technicality – it leaves open the possibility that in the future the Justice Ministry could re-open the case of ownership of the property.
“This compromise will give us breathing room for a good many years until either the land is properly regulated or there is peace,” Justice Yitzhak Amit told the courtroom.
“We want a practical solution, without declarations of victory by one side or the other,” he declared.
According to Ronit Levine-Schnur, an Israeli law professor who is advising the Palestinian Arab legal team, “Their offer is to understand the situation as on standby until the title procedure is settled.”
But Ilan Shemer, Nahalat Shimon’s lawyer, immediately rejected this proposal, demanding that the Palestinian Arabs formally recognize Nahalah Shimon as owner of the properties.
“There have been hundreds of verdicts and they [the Arabs] have never complied with anything. It’s absolutely cheap. If ‘owners’ isn’t put in writing, I’m not ready to meet again,” Shemer said. “This compromise will be an empty compromise.” (Emphasis added)
This proposed compromise is not only horrendous, it is shameful. And I am hardly alone in this opinion.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich (pictured), Director of International Law at the Kohelet Forum, had a great deal to say on the matter. He deeply regretted attempts by the court to “reduce the property owner’s rights simply because they are Jews.” And he found it “distressing” that the court’s justices appear to be influenced by diplomatic pressure and the fear of further violence.
“They are not supposed to take into account anything outside the courtroom, but they obviously feel the pressure.”
The fact that the judges are unwilling to outright evict the squatters “shows they are very ‘brave’ in taking decisions based on what they call purely the law that will upset much of the Israeli public, but when it comes to upsetting the international community or Hamas, they lack that courage.
The comments made by the judges at the hearing show that they have no question that the Jewish property owners have the complete lawful title…
“What the judges are trying to do is to convince or pressure the Jewish property owners to accept less than normal property rights.”
Chaim Silberstein, founder and director of Keep Jerusalem, was similarly direct:
“The compromise that was suggested at the Supreme Court hearing is not really a compromise. It is a capitulation of the respected legal system in Israel at the highest level to political and ideological pressure from the extreme left.” (Emphasis added)
As I write, there is no resolution with regard to the proposal, although I believe the deadline offered by the Court has expired. I pray that there will be no resolution, and that the Court will be forced to make a legal decision.
To compound what I consider the shamefulness of this situation, according to an unnamed Israeli official, Israel has asked the US to use its influence to get the Palestinian Arab squatters in Shimon HaTzadik to agree to the Court compromise.
And here I must consider the likelihood that the Israeli government is seeking to avoid a crisis with Mansour Abbas of Ra’am.
Much more to follow after Shabbat. I close with a good news item:
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid travelled to Morocco for an official visit, the first in 20 years. While in Rabat, he signed three agreements with his counterpart. While opening a liaison office, he said that Israel and Morocco would upgrade to full embassies within three months.