Did you know that Israel is currently carrying out a “systematic mass expulsion” of Palestinian Arabs from its territory? No, neither did I.
Some prominent groups on the Jewish left are making that claim, however—thus raising an interesting question: Why are the Israelis, who are so advanced when it comes to high-tech, medical, scientific and military matters, so incredibly inept when it comes to expelling Arabs?
On June 7, two American Jewish left-wing groups—Partners for Progressive Israel and J Street—co-sponsored a webinar called “The On-the-Ground Effort to Prevent Mass Expulsions.”
For those who don’t recognize the name, Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI) is affiliated with the left-wing Israeli Meretz Party, which is part of the current government. “Partners” is also one of the organizations that make up the American Zionist Movement. (J Street, however, had its application to that movement rejected because of its lobbying against Israel.)
In their publicity for the webinar, PPI and J Street said they are protesting “the expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, Masafer Yatta and the Negev,” which they described as “the climax of a systematic, decades-long effort to force Palestinians out of the area in order to cement Israeli control.”
Let’s parse that a bit.
“Sheikh Jarrah” refers to a mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, known in Hebrew as Shimon HaTzadik because the grave of that rabbinical sage—the head of the Sanhedrin in his time—is there.
If there truly was any “decades-long effort” by the Israeli government to “force” the Arab residents of the neighborhood to leave, surely, they would have been gone a long time ago. Instead, the Arab population of the neighborhood has grown over the years. Israel’s left-leaning Supreme Court has authorized the government to evict a small number of illegal Arab squatters who have been occupying several Jewish-owned apartments for many years and never paying rent to the owners.
You can bet that if the chairman of Partners for Progressive Israel or the president of J Street stops paying the rent on their apartments, the local authorities would not have tolerated their illegal presence for so many years.
“Masafer Yatta” refers to an area in the Israeli-controlled portion of Judea and Samaria known as Area C, where a number of illegal Arab squatters have set up shacks within Israeli Army firing zones. You would think that PPI and J Street would be glad to have the squatters safely relocated rather than risk them getting accidentally shot. But apparently not.
During the June 7 webinar, one of the speakers—Rebecca Strober of the extreme-left “Breaking the Silence” group—presented an interesting conspiracy theory about the Masafer Yatta controversy. She said that then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon created the firing zones back in 1982 so that Israel would have a justification to force the Palestinian Arab residents to move from Area C, which is controlled by Israel, to Area A, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
There’s just one small problem with Strober’s theory. Areas A and C didn’t even exist in 1982. They were established as part of the Oslo II accord in 1995. Oops!
The other problem with the Masafer Yatta expulsion accusation is that no functioning government would need “decades” to carry out a “mass expulsion” of a relative handful of people. Unless, of course, the Israelis are just amazingly inept at carrying out expulsions.
Finally, there is “the Negev,” where, PPI and J Street claim, the Israelis are also carrying out “the expulsion of Palestinians.” This once again involves a small number of illegal Arab squatters. What makes this particular situation interesting is that Israel has created a number of towns for the Bedouins in the Negev and has offered to create more, so that anybody whose illegal structure is dismantled has a place to go.
But PPI and J Street don’t seem very interested in the actual housing conditions of the squatters they are championing. They are too focused on making broad, slanderous accusations against Israel about “mass expulsions.” And all the while, the Arab population that has supposedly been subjected to “mass expulsions” continues to grow and grow.
One final irony: As I noted earlier, PPI is affiliated with Meretz, which is part of the current Israeli government. If this government is actually involved in the “mass expulsion” of Palestinian Arabs, as PPI claims, then why doesn’t PPI demand that Meretz withdraw from such a brutal regime? Why doesn’t PPI threaten to sever its ties with Meretz as long as it is complicit in such awful actions? How can the folks at PPI stand to be party to the alleged policies that they are denouncing?
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”