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Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

International Media Falsify the Housing Dispute in Jerusalem's Shimon haTsadiq Quarter

One of the chief ways in which international media, such as BBC, France24 or even Foxnews and i24, falsify the situation and the issues involved is by wrongly calling  the area Sheikh Jarrah. Traditionally, the area or large plot of real estate was called the Shimon haTsadiq Quarter. That is how it appears, for instance, in Dan Bahat's historical atlas of Jerusalem, and  in the Palestine Post before Israeli independence.

Simon the Just [Shimon haTsadiq] was an ancient Jewish high priest and his tomb is believed traditionally to be found on this site in Jerusalem, along with several other ancient Jewish cave tombs on the site. For that reason, the real estate around the Tomb --considered a holy place-- was bought jointly by Ashkenazi and Sefardi leaders in 1878. Besides enhancing the physical aspect of Simon's tomb, houses were built for poor Jews on part of the lot while part of it, including the location of the houses now at issue, was left undeveloped. 

Jews were driven out of the Shimon haTsadiq Quarter in December 1947-January 1948. They were the first refugees in the war who could not go home after it, since Jewish refugees from south Tel Aviv, for example, could go home after the war. Just by the way, the first refugees in the war were Jews, probably those from south Tel Aviv which was subject for months to sniper fire from the minaret of the Manshiyyah Mosque in nearby Jaffa/Yafo.

The Jewish homes on the plot were occupied by Arabs in 1948 or after. The houses now at issue were built in 1954-55 on Jewish-owned land by Jordan. 

When the whole city returned to Jewish control in 1967, Arabs living around the tomb of Simon were allowed to stay. However, Israeli courts recognized the Jewish ownership through committees of the old Ashkenazi and Sefardi religious communities in the city. Eventually Arab residents in the houses at issue were told to pay  rent to the rightful, legal owners. They could stay and not be evicted if they paid rent, which would be low because of Jerusalem's tenant protection law. Some took money offered to them to move out while eventually others, directed by the Palestinian Authority, refused to pay rent and were taken to court. In these court cases they claimed ownership supposedly granted to them by Jordan. But the courts found against them and the owners added the condition that they not only pay rent but recognize that they were not the legal owners. At this point we should say that it was very clever on the part of Abu Mazen's Palestinian Authority to direct these people not to pay rent or to acknowledge that they had to pay rent to Jewish owners. In this way, the PA created a deceptive issue or narrative: Supposedly poor Arabs, called "Palestinians," were being evicted by cruel Jews, who were labeled with the pejorative term "settlers" who wanted to sadistically take over Arab homes for their nefarious purposes when in reality, it was Jews who were driven from their homes by Arabs in 1947-1948. As said, the first refugees in the war who could not go home after it were the Jews of Shimon haTsadiq Quarter. Yet various news outlets are collaborating in justifying the Arab imperialist conquest and ethnic cleansing of the Shimon haTsadiq Quarter in 1947-48.

Media coverage of the situation in and around Shimon haTsadiq Quarter is generally characterized by ignorance, lack of historical context or false history by insinuation or assertion, as well as moral obtuseness. For instance, the Foxnews journo in Jerusalem said that the "settlers" were taking over the houses and evicting the Arabs ["Palestinians"] by an "obscure law." Nothing obscure. The courts just recognized the rightful owners. Of course it is never mentioned that the area's Jews were driven out in 12/1947 and 1/1948. 

Something else never mentioned is that the traditional tomb of Simon the Just is located on the same lot. That would acknowledge a Jewish presence there in antiquity. And one must not do that in the age of frequent distortion of history and widespread Israelophobia, the latest version of traditional Judeophobia.

Now Simon's tomb used to be considered an ideal destination for Jewish pilgrimages on Lag B'Omer, like Meron. The site appears on the list of Jewish holy places in the Rhodes armistice accords of 1949. Jordan [then Transjordan] was supposed to allow Jews access to their holy places but Jordan always violated that part of those accords, as you would expect.

The ethnic cleansing of the Shimon haTsadiq Quarter in 1947-48 is now forgotten by ignorant or deceitful journalists and presumed news outlets.

- - - - - - - - - SOURCES

Yits'haq Levi [Levitsa], Tish'a Qabin [Hebrew]

Palestine Post [forerunner of the Jerusalem Post] for 30 November 1947 through 31 January 1948

Zeev Vilna'i, Encyclopedia of Jerusalem [Hebrew]

[here] [here] [here

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Jerusalem, a neighbor of Shimon ha Tsadiq Quarter [here]

Jewish property in Jerusalem seized by Arabs & Jewish property taken by Arab governments [here]

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