Netanyahu's Sister-in-Law Detained by Police; Calls Sheikh Jarrah Evictions an Unjust Folly

Even compared to the low ethical standards which most people, outside the
United States, ascribe to the actions of the Israeli government of
occupation, the recent decision of their Supreme Court to evict long-time
residents of Arab neighborhoods and to replace them with Jewish Israelis signals
a particularly low point in the Jewish state's brutally harsh treatment of
Palestinians.

Even compared to the low ethical standards which most people, outside the
United States, ascribe to the actions of the Israeli government of
occupation, the recent decision of their Supreme Court to evict long-time
residents of Arab neighborhoods and to replace them with Jewish Israelis signals
a particularly low point in the Jewish state's brutally harsh treatment of
Palestinians.

In a sparsely
reported incident which occurred on Sunday, August 1,Ofra Ben-Artzi, the
sister-in-law of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was detained by
police in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The 58
year-old Ben-Artzi, an editor for the anti-occupation magazine, HaKibush, spent several hours in
police custody before being released without any charges being filed. Her
apparent crime was her sympathy with the Palestinians who had recently been
evicted from their homes.

Ben-Artzi is the mother of a conscientious objector who served time in a
military jail for refusing to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. She is
the wife of the brother (Matania Ben-Artzi) of Sarah Netanyahu, the present
Prime Minister's wife.

Ben-Artzi described what she saw while being held in a police vehicle in an article reprinted
here
. She wrote about what she terms "a complete Judaization of the
neighborhood" and had some harsh comments about her brother-in-law, the Prime
Minister:

I have spent an hour sitting there. We went deeper in the neighborhood,
into the area where the families had been expelled from their homes. I could
see the ultra-Orthodox men and women, in their distinctive clothing, walking
quietly along the road, towards the grave of Shimon the Tzadik. No police
blocked their way. I reflected that I was seeing the beginning of an
innovation. No longer simply a "Jews Only" road. From now on, roads would be
reserved to a specific kind of Jews, to those who "look Jewish", those who -
as PM Netanyahu once said "have not forgotten what it means to be a Jew." Nor
did the bars prevent me from seeing that Umm Kamel's tent, where she had been
living since her own expulsion, was also gone. The ground where it had stood
was completely bare, the whole area infested with police - hundreds at least,
possibly thousands. From the floor of the police car I saw what looked like a
complete Judaization of the neighborhood. I would not be surprised if they
also take off the very name of Sheikh Jarrah from the signs and the
map.

In the story about her arrest in Ha'aretz (Hebrew
edition, only), Ben-Artzi is quoted as pulling no punches in her
criticism of the recent evictions of long-time Palestinian residents of Sheikh
Jarrah.

Their are no words to describe the injustice and folly of this, we are
walking with our open eyes into the abyss. If we will not be smart enough to
live together, Arabs and Jews, as in the days of the [British] Mandate when
there were two mayors in Jerusalem, then we will be dragged into transfer, and
if this is not enough, what will we do then? Erect concentration camps?

The two
latest evictions came as a result of an Israeli Supreme Court decision which
says that decades old property titles, held by Jewish families, were valid
despite the owners' absence for the better part of this century. The
Jewish families claim that their descendents were illegally and forcibly evicted
by Palestinians in the 20s. The Palestinian families say that they have
legal titles dating back to the Ottoman times and that the Jewish documents are
forgeries.

The court ruling seems to open the door for Palestinians to make claims upon
property that they abandoned during the 1948 War. This is a result that
one would think the court would certainly want to avoid.
Ben-Artzi states that the court has opened a "Pandora's Box." One property
that she says could be transferred to Arab ownership is owned by the Prime
Minister's own family. Of course, Israel would never apply the court
decision to expel Jewish residents.

I know that Bibi's family has a house in Talbiyeh and it also is
abandoned property, maybe it also will be returned to its
owners.

Talbiyeh (or Talbiyah, Talbeih) is a neighborhood in now Jewish West
Jerusalem in which there are many opulent homes and villas that were owned by
Palestinians, who, according to the the Hebrew Wikipedia, fled as a result of a
campaign of threats by the main Jewish militia (Hagana) in 1948. Talbiyeh
remains an exclusive Jerusalem neighborhood, and of course few if any
Palestinians live there today.

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