So, I went to check out the Americans for Peace Now Website. A site that supports the Israeli Peace Movement Shalom Achshav. And on that page their was a stirring note from the founder of Shalom Achshav and a highlighted link to one of the tragedies of the conflict. The battle of the Shaya family to retain their home in Jaffa.
As Americans it is important that we call or write our congresscritters and tell them that we want to see a fair solution for both the Palestinian and Israeli people in this conflict. Not just one group but both groups need a chance to live in peace.
A recent poll on ynet just came out showing the majority of Israeli Jews want a two state solution and word is that PM Binyamin Netanyahu is going to institute a 10 month freeze to get negotiations going.
Anyway follow me to learn about the things we can/should be doing to help.
First off, the Shaya family:
You can read the entire saga of the Shaya family in this Haaretz article, but the gist is fairly simple. In the 1920’s, Salim Khoury Shaya, head of Jaffa’s once prosperous Greek Orthodox Palestinian community, built a house for his family. He had seven children. In 1948, a census was taken of the remnants of Jaffa’s Palestinian community. Empty houses were taken over by the State of Israel, according to the Absentee Property Law (more about that at the bottom of this post). The Shaya house was a unique case. Three of the siblings were absent (in Lebanon), but four were present. So the State proclaimed itself "partner" and legally took over 40% of the house.
Decades passed and, except for a number of failed attempts in the 50’s and 60’s, to sue for full property rights, the Shaya family didn’t hear much from the government. Their area of Jaffa (near Ajami) was a slum no one was really interested in. That all changed about four years ago. The Jaffa coast went through accelerated gentrification and property prices skyrocketed. Amidar, the government owned housing company that administrates most Absentee Properties, saw an opportunity for a windfall. Contrary to popular perception, most of the Palestinians living in the area are not descendants of the pre-1948 residents, but descendants of refugees displaced during the war from other parts of the country, and are now tenants of Amidar. Therefore, their eviction, on a variety of pretexts, was relatively simple. In 2007-2008 alone, Amidar issued at least 400 eviction notices in the Ajami neighborhood.
Truly this is a tragedy and one of the things that many of us on the left HATE about those on the right. They keep doing things to make the transition to peaceful co-existence impossible. They are as bad as any ememy of the two-state solution as they are attempting to harm the people that they are negotiating with for peace. Hardly an encouraging sign.
This case goes to the Israeli courts in January but you can write to the shaya family at: email@example.com (I got this from the blog I am not putting out this as something that was private info.).
For those of us who support the Israeli Left this is a cause we SHOULD be involved with. These people are solid citizens of Israel. It is important that we end discrimination within the state.
We should also be reading the following messsage from A.B. Yehoshua of Shalom Achshav. He makes a great case for the two state solution and why a Bi-national state simply won't work. Further, like I and others have expressed here - the annexation of the West Bank would be a horrible mistake and would lead to dire consequences.
Netanyahu, one of the staunchest opponents of dividing the biblical land of Israel into two states, said recently that he is ready to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state next to Israel. By doing so, Netanyahu joined other Israeli prime ministers who came from the right, such as Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, who opposed the creation of a Palestinian state, only to change their position later.
But let's not fool ourselves. Despite such statements, the path leading to the actual creation of a Palestinian state is still long. In fact, the path leading to the de facto creation of a bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea - a single state inhabited by two peoples - is much shorter.
Some 1.5 million Israeli-Palestinians live in Israel proper. Another 200,000 non-citizen Palestinians live in East Jerusalem and surrounding areas that were annexed by Israel after the 1967 war. If you add to them the 3.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza, the de facto bi-national state today would be composed of 55 percent Jews and 45 percent Palestinians. Given the differing birthrate levels, in several short years that ratio will flip in favor of a Palestinian majority. The Jewish State will, heaven forbid, vanish.
By doing nothing, we are following a short path to an ugly future: Israel as an apartheid state with a Palestinian majority. And following the miserable, violent model of multinational states in the 20th century, such as Yugoslavia, the bi-national state in the land of Israel would likely also be the source of ceaseless violence between two peoples who are so different from each other.
A bi-national state is a proven recipe for the creation of a political monster. It will create an Israel that many Israelis and Jews will not recognize, let alone support or want to live in. It will give Jews the option of living in a country that practices formalized and official Jewish discrimination against Palestinians, or leaving to do what they have done so well throughout history: maintain their identity among other peoples, away from the land of their forefathers.
This is no fantasy. Already some Palestinians have given up on the desire for a state of their own and are instead demanding equal rights in a bi-national state.
One immediate step that must be taken to prevent this dangerous process is to stop the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and to remove the outposts built in recent years. It can be done - it was done in the Gaza Strip in 2005 and in the Sinai Peninsula after Israel signed its peace treaty with Egypt.
I think this appeal summons up something better than I ever could and applies to the argument on this site more than ever.
Stopping the settlement of the West Bank is neither a gesture to the American administration nor a gesture to the Palestinians. Stopping the settlements is vital for the sake of our future, for the sake of our Israeli identity, which is gradually being eroded as we proceed toward the abyss of bi-nationalism. We must do it even if we are skeptical as to the ability of the two peoples to reach an agreement of peace and security.