Monday, April 03, 2006

Since When is Buying an Apartment Building "Taking Over a Compound"?

A headline in today's Haaretz appalled me - and I am a veteran reader, who usually shrugs off their wildly left-wing headlines as par for the course.

It turns out that Elad, a non-profit that seeks to purchase houses in East Jerusalem for Jews, has succeeded in doing just that. They purchased two apartment buildings, and plan to have 15-20 Jewish families live there. Haaretz described this as "Elad organization took control of two large, populated and sensitive compounds".

Compounds? I think someone is mixing up Monopoly with a war game.

Of course it isn't just a simple act of buying an apartment building. There are sinister implications - but ones that the Haaretz writers didn't seem upset about. The purchaser in this case had to provide protection for the buyer against death threats - which are rumored to have already taken place (detailed in the article itself).

Let's try to see it the other way around, ok, and see it through Ibrahim's mirror (borrowing from Treppenwitz's latest, and brilliant post). What would the headline be if, say, a Chareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) couple sold an apartment to a chiloni (secular) family in Bnei Brak, and afterwards the Chareidi family received death threats?

Any guesses? How about "Religious fanatics threaten couple!"

I shudder to think about how Haaretz would have described all of those Jews who put their charity money in those blue JNF boxes in order to purchase land in Israel in the first place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget hypotheticals about Bnei Brak - Israel's Supremes Court has ruled that Arabs cannot be barred from buying land in Jewish villages, and can force their way in against the community's bylaws.

In this case - we are talking about a neighborhood in the Jerusalem Municipality.

This is the equivalent of saying no whites can buy property in Harlem - or no West Germans can buy in East Berlin.

3:07 PM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger tafka PP said...

Yes, you are right, it is deeply disturbing that in Silwan, those who sell to Elad or the other NGO receive death threats. And I am not quick to believe the oft-heard cries of "Forgery." Nevertheless, deliberately and purposely orchestrating secret deals to buy up large family compounds (which isn't such a misuse- Elad often purchase large multistory complexes which house several generations of the same families) in the middle of densely populated/hostile Arab neighbourhoods isn't exactly going to help us share this city: Which, for the forseeable future, is what we have to do.

6:06 PM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

the artist - the "secrecy" is purely to protect the Arab sellers. I think you have also internalized the Arab mentality that Jews living in one area or another is a "provocation" that must be met with hostility. Why isn't it a "provocation" for Arabs to live in predominantly Jewish Tel-Aviv?

3:26 PM, April 04, 2006  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

It is a sad thing.

4:48 PM, April 04, 2006  
Blogger tafka PP said...

I don't always see it as a "provocation", no, only in certain circumstances. Like this one. To answer your question, Tel Aviv is pretty laid back, full of secular liberal types. I think a better hypothetical comparison might be if an Arab family moved into your yishuv (I'm guessing it is a little more nationalist than TA) waving Hamas flags and singing about the desctruction of Israel?

(Sorry, I can go on and on about Elad- and I do: I have both Jewish and Arab friends who live in Silwan- suffice to say, we have interesting conversations!)

11:06 PM, April 04, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Jack - I agree

the artist - my yishuv is a closed community - closed to single people, closed to secular people, and closed to married women who do not cover their hair - so of course it is closed to Arabs. Jerusalem is a CITY, and no neighborhood in it should be closed to Jews - just as I think that all neighborhoods in cities in Israel shouldn't be closed to Arabs.

You can't have it both ways.

8:09 AM, April 05, 2006  
Blogger tafka PP said...

Of course you are right, cities shouldn't be closed. But this isn't people moving in to invite Arab neighbours over for BBQs (although I know that there are exceptions to that rule in Silwan) By and large these are people moving in, with huge flags and military protection, to reclaim areas of the city which are not populated by Jews and thus making a clear political statement. Perhaps legally it isn't a provocation, but it is hard to determine any true productive purpose at this stage while the "Final Status" of East Jerusalem is still on the table for negotiation with the current inhabitants.

4:03 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

artist - yes, you are right, they are moving there for a reason - because it is much harder to declare territory "out-of-bounds" to Jews when Jews are living there already. We all have a collective trauma from the time when the old city was cut off between 1948-1967, and the Arabs desecrated the cemetary and kept Jews from the Western Wall. But they are going through completely legal channels before moving - and that is what drives me crazy about the terminology used by Haaretz.

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