Sheikh Jarrah: Occupation Overwhelming Democracy

Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now blogs about how the ongoing protests at Sheikh Jarrah are a “microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

She’s right of course. And she’s right in observing that this relatively small piece of the conflict demonstrates how the occupation is eroding Israeli democracy.

I’d like to go a little deeper into that point, from a slightly different angle.

Israelis, Palestinians and other activists protesting evictions in Sheikh Jarrah

The protests in Sheikh Jarrah were sparked by a group of Jewish settlers buying some property which, it was claimed, once belonged to Jews before 1948. When two Palestinian families, encompassing 53 people were evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, the US and much of the world protested along with the Palestinians. The area has seen increasing protest since.

One of the subtexts of all of this is the counter-claim by settlers and Israeli officials: to quote Yakir Segev of the Jerusalem municipal council, “These are not actions made by Israel or the Israeli government. This is a matter of the court. It is a civil dispute between Palestinian families and those of Israeli settlers, regarding who is the rightful owner of this property … Israeli law is the only law we are obliged to obey.” Continue reading