Shiloach (Silwan) – Arabs and Leftwing Radicals Are Trying to Once Again “Bury” the Yemenite Jews

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Backed by impartial press coverage, and by left wing radical groups like Ir Amim and Peace Now, Arabs from the Shiloach (Silwan) are trying to rewrite history and once again “bury” the Yemenite Jews and their rich history in Jerusalem.

The public has recently been flooded with pictures of Arabs protesting possible evictions, and interviews by Peace Now and Ir Amim representatives, identifying themselves with the “poor destitute” Arabs from Silwan, some of whom are on the verge of being evicted from their “homes”, due to them being illegal Arab squatters on old Yemenite properties.

However, with all the talk focusing on the greatly inflated numbers of Arabs to be evicted and the human side of the story, which cannot be ignored, the left wing organizations and the Arabs, are conveniently forgetting the main aspects of the story.

Firstly – In the same way, that one should maybe sympathize with the Arabs or anyone, who may be evicted from their “homes” where they have lived for the last 30-60 years, one must also appreciate and sympathize with the 144-150 Yemenite families who were first evicted (WITHOUT DUE LEGAL PROCESS) from the same area and from their homes and properties by marauding Arabs in the Arab pogroms of 1928-29 and in 1937-38.

Unless one wants to “bury” the Yemenites and their history in Jerusalem, one must first and foremost appreciate the FACT – that the properties in question, in the Shiloach (Silwan), legally and officially belonged to the Yemenite Community (Sanctified Trust) and to private Sefardim and Yemenites.

The rioting Arabs of the 1920’s-30’s and the apathetic British authorities are solely responsible for the Yemenite refugees and for the families being forcibly evicted from their homes and the neighbourhood. In August of 1938, the British authorities forcibly removed the last 35 Yemenite and Sefardi families from the Shiloach (Silwan) promising to cover the rent of the all the families in their new temporary homes till the “Jewish refugees” would be able to return to their home in the Shiloach.

The British never kept their promises, never covered the rent of the “Jewish refugees”, and the Yemenite Village of Shiloach became an Arab village of Silwan. Arabs pulled apart and literally destroyed many of the buildings, pillaged and ransacked the Synagogues. Kfar Hateimanim in the Shiloach was no longer – with Arabs sadly squatting in many of the properties including the main Synagogue complex. (Under the British rule and under the Jordanian General Custodian)

Why does Ir Amim and Peace Now forget these facts?

Why do they wish to ignore Yemenite history and heritage in Jerusalem and rather side with illegal Arab squatters?

Why do they wish to bury the “Yemenites” and cover up their glorious Jerusalem achievements and past?

(This writer wonders how many Yemenites or Sefardim are even in their leadership ranks?) 

Today – groups like Ir Amim and Peace Now, who wish to “bury” the Yemenites, do not recognize this history and simply prefer to identify with their “Arab brethren”, who are the illegal Arab squatters. They seem to totally ignore (When rulings don’t suit them) that there is a polished and respected Israeli court system in this democratic country. There are existing formal Israeli laws giving credence, legality and the moral justification for current legal action by the Hekdesh (Sanctified Trust) and for the endeavours of organizations like Ateret Cohanim who are trying to facilitate the return of Jewish life to the area.

Secondly – no one is coming in the dark of the night to evict anyone, as claimed by the left wing radical groups and as insinuated by the Arabs. G-d forbid. After years in the Israeli court system (which clearly isn’t in the pockets of the right wing, religious or settlement movement), the courts have thus far, simply and clearly ruled that the Arabs living in the Sanctified Trust of the Yemenites are illegal squatters and the Hekdesh (Sanctified Trust) has the full right to reclaim these properties. (Including the original Synagogue complex, back in Jewish hands and currently under restoration and renovations)

In fact – Jews should have the right to live in, any and every neighbourhood of Jerusalem, just like Arabs.

I would like to remind the likes of Ir Amim and Peace Now, that today – there are in fact more Arabs living in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods (Ramat Eshkol, Pisgat Zeev’ Armon HaNetziv, East Talpiyot..etc), than Jews who have bought and live in predominantly Arab neighbourhoods. Does anyone object to Arabs living in Armon HaNetziv? Does Ir Amim and Peace Now object and protest about such Arab acquisitions? Or does Ir Amim and Peace Now only believe in Judenrein areas? (“Free of Jews” – Jews only, forbidden to live in certain areas)

In some of the articles in the Israeli press, Arab ring leaders (including those who have been arrested on numerous occasions for violence) speak about 1000 Arabs being evicted. They speak about settlers and not Jewish residents. They speak about the Arab youth many of whom have been arrested and about the security apparatus set up for the Jewish families in and around the Old City.

These same articles, however, forget to add that the heavy security needed for the Jewish families is only due to Arab intransigence, intolerance, hatred and violence aimed at the 22 Jewish families living in the Shiloach. (Silwan)

And the arrests of so many Arab youth is only due to the fact, that these same youth, are encouraged by their parents and others to throw stones (That can kill) and molotov cocktails, at the Jewish families and buildings. They should be arrested and thrown into jail for years. This situation will only maybe change one day, when Arab children are taught to accept the Jewish presence in the area and are prepared to coexist with Jews in the modern Jewish State of Israel.

It should also be very clear that we are talking about past, current and future cases, which in total, are dealing with approximately 500-550 illegal Arab squatters and not 1000 Arabs, as claimed. (Deemed as such by the Israeli courts.)

Lastly – the Arabs and the radical left always seem to go back to the so called “injustice” in the existing laws that apparently favour Jews and limit Arabs from reclaiming their “homes”, that maybe they “lost” in 1948 or 1967 in Jerusalem. Aside from the fact that its simply not true – In any normal democratic country, one is always free to try and change laws or make new laws.

This writer would however like to add that aside from the fact that there is full justification behind the current laws on reclaiming old properties – there is also no MORAL EQUIVALENCE between two possible sets of “refugees” who lost their homes. The Jews (Yemenite or other) who lost their homes due to Arab riots, pogroms and hatred is clearly not the same “refugee” status as an Arab who left his home, for example in Talbiyeh, at the behest of Arab leaders in 1948, hoping to wipe out the Jews (“Drive them into the sea”) and then give those same Arabs the homes of their Jewish neighbours. Yes – we may have two sets of refugees, but clearly, one needs to see the overall situation and the circumstances behind how the refugees came into being.

Even though there has been, and will continue to be a due legal process for every single Arab family and property (Not seen with the Yemenite Jews) – an eviction of even a single family is difficult and we should show sensitivity.

(Note in this light – the Hekdesh (Sanctified Trust) has even offered the Arab families some compensation even though there is no obligation whatsoever to do so according to the law, when an illegal squatter is involved)

The truth be told – some of these families may have had nothing to do with the sad and traumatic expulsion (with no due legal action) of the numerous Yemenite families 80 yrs ago. But those Yemenite families and their properties cannot and will not, ever be forgotten. And if you’re an illegal squatter you need to pay the price.

Zionism and the return of Jews to the Jewish homeland has been part of Jewish life for the last 2000 years. This dream and redemption process was partially materialized by the Yemenite Jews in 1881-2, even before the First Aliyah from Europe.

The process didn’t stop with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and not with the miraculous victory of the Six Day War in 1967. It is still unfolding today and the return to Shiloach is one such part, of this dream.

Finally – Throughout the centuries, many have tried to break the eternal bond between the Jewish people, the G-d of Israel, the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. 

Today they are either naught or simply bylines in history books. The same fate awaits those like Peace Now and Ir Amim, who have maybe forgotten their own Jewish roots.

They will not succeed to stop the process and wipe away the Zionist dream. We will continue to come home !!

The Yemenites and their heritage and history will not be buried!!

Article by Daniel Luria

Daniel Luria is the Executive Director and International Spokesman for Ateret Cohanim. He is considered a global expert on Jerusalem, with a focus on urban land reclamation initiatives. he is a sought after speaker, guide, and informal educator in relation to his work in Jerusalem.

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