A Review of RHR’s Campaign Concerning the JNF and the Sumarin Familyfrom November 23rd until today.
1. RHR’s Issues First Letter Campaign. On the November 23rd, Rabbis for Human Rights launched a public letter campaign, along with parallel campaigns by RHR-NA, The Jewish Alliance for Change and the Solidarity Movement, and picked up by many others, calling on the JNF to prevent the eviction of the Sumarin family, which was slated to take place on November 28th.
2. JNF-USA Responds. Within hours of the campaigns launch, and following hundreds of emails sent to JNF board members around the world, JNF-USA issued a statement in response, in which KKL-JNF maintained that they are not responsible for this case because they had leased the property to the settler organization, ELAD.
3. RHR Responds to JNF Statement. On November 24th, RHR issued a public response, via email, to the JNF statement, in which we stated that we do not enjoy being engaged in a public debate with the JNF, but that:
“Court documents in our possession clearly indicate that Himnuta, a 100% KKL-JNF-owned subsidiary, has waged a legal campaign to have the Sumarin family evicted from their home…
The response of KKL-JNF confirming the connection between Himnuta and ELAD, combined with additional information that we have gathered, only reinforces the fact that the KKL-JNF and its subsidiary Himnuta bear responsibility for the pending eviction of the Sumarin family, and are thus morally obligated to do everything in their power to freeze the eviction and to undo the damage that they have wrought.
Until we receive confirmation that the eviction has been frozen, we ask that you, supporters of RHR, redouble your efforts to contact KKL-JNF, asking them to prevent the eviction of the Sumarin family.”
4. JNF-KKL/Himanutah Agree to Temporary Freeze of the Eviction. Following RHR’s second statement, and many more emails from supporters of RHR, the JNF-KKL/Himanutah agreed to temporarily freeze the eviction of the Sumarin family. The notification was published in Haaretz in English on November 27th, the day before the eviction was slated to occur:
“At the last minute on Thursday night, the Jewish National Fund announced a delay in the eviction of 12 members of a Palestinian family from the house where they’ve been living in theEast Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan…
For its part, the JNF said the court ordered the Sumarin family to leave the premises in 2006 and family members have rebuffed efforts to seriously discuss a resolution of the case. Nonetheless, the JNF said, additional time would be granted to resolve the issue. Elad did not comment.“
It is important to note that, to the best of our knowledge, the family members never “rebuffed efforts to seriously discuss a resolution” and indeed were never approached about negotiations or discussion by anyone from the JNF-KKL/Himanutah. However, unlike the JNF-USA statement, the JNF-KKL acknowledged their involvement. RHR welcomes the willingness of JNF-KKL to freeze the eviction and search for a solution.
5. Court Orders Eviction Freeze; JNF-KKL Issues Statement in Line with the Court Decision. The JNF-KKL/Himanutah statement in Haaretz did not include a timeframe. On November 28th, the original date of eviction, the Israeli court dealing with this case ordered, following a request by Adv. Muhammad Dahleh, to “freeze the eviction procedures.” According to Hagit Ofran:
The main request submitted by Dahleh was to cancel the previous ruling of the court, from 2005, which ordered the eviction of the Sumarin family without any response or defense by the family. Today, the court gave Himnuta, who is demanding the eviction, a chance to respond to [Dahleh and the family's] request until the 18th of December 2012. After that, the court will decide whether to cancel the eviction ruling or not. The court ordered that until the decision is made, the eviction procedures will be frozen.
The following notice was published on the JNF’s facebook:
“Out of a sense of public responsibility and given the sensitivity of the situation, Himanutah has decided to ask the Israeli courts not to enforce the eviction of the Somrin family at present. KKL’s position has always combined safeguarding the land rights of the Jewish People while taking into consideration the rights of minorities in Israel. By doing so, the company is extending an additional opportunity for dialogue which is now being mediated by KKL.”
6. Rabbis for Human Rights Issues Its Latest Call to Action: The JNF/KKL Has Temporarily Frozen The Silwan Eviction Thanks To You- Now We Must Cancel It.
Help us ensure that this story ends well. Tell the JNF/KKL to do what is right.