By activestills | Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org | Silwan neighborhood, Jerusalem
On November 28th, a Palestinian family, the Sumarins, will be evicted from their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. To expel this family of twelve – including 5 children, a pregnant mother, and a grandfather on dialysis– would both be unjust and risk inflaming Arab-Jewish relations in Jerusalem.
To our great dismay, we learned of the direct connection between the Jewish National Fund in Israel (JNF-KKL) and Himnuta, a wholly-owned JNF subsidiary that is behind the plans to evict the family. For further details about the case, please go to RHR’s accompanying fact sheet. The short version is this: the Israeli government exploited the fact that in 1983, when the original homeowner, Musa Sumarin, died, the people living in the house were not deemed by the state to be the direct “heirs.” Therefore, the government transferred ownership of the house to the Custodian of Absentee Properties. The Custodian, rather than returning the property to the family, chose to transfer ownership to Himnuta, along with seven other properties in Silwan. Himnuta then chose to wage a court battle to evict the Sumarin family. Past experience indicates the Himnuta will, following the eviction of the Sumarins, most likely transfer the property to the settlers and ELAD, an organization of radical Jewish settlers whose explicit radical political agenda, as expressed as in their articles of incorporation is the “Judaization (i.e., the de-Arabization) of East Jerusalem.”
As Israeli rabbis who are deeply concerned both with Israel’s security and with the human rights of all people living under Israel’s control, we in RHR urge you to take action to stop JNF’s Himnuta subsidiary from evicting the Sumarin family from their home. The family has been living in this house for more than four decades. JNF, as a group concerned with the well-being of the State of Israel, must act to prevent this injustice. The JNF does much work that is admirable, and should not sully itself by betraying its founding commitment to only obtain land fairly. This act does not reflect the will of those Jews who have put their pennies the little blue boxes for several generations.
We only have a few days!
Please copy the text below — or write your own letter — and send it to the JNF representative in your country (please CC us for statistical purposes: [email protected])
- President of the JNF in the US, Russell Robinson: Email: [email protected]
- President of JNF-Canada: Frank A Wilson. Email: [email protected]
- World President of the JNF-KKL in Israel, Efi Stenzler: Email: [email protected]
- Chairman of the JNF in the UK, Samuel Hayek: Email: [email protected]
- Office in Paris, France. Nadine: e-mail: [email protected]
- Office in Berlin, Germany: e-mail: [email protected]
- Office in Sydney, Australia: email: [email protected]
- Office in Johannesberg, South Africa: e-mail: [email protected]
- Office in Zurich, Switzerland: e-mail: [email protected]
- If you are from a country not listed above, you can find the contact information for the JNF if your country on the following website.
Stop the eviction of the Sumarin family
I write to you as someone who is deeply concerned both with Israel’s security and with the human rights of all people living under Israel’s control. I urge you to exert your influence to stop Himnuta, an organization owned entirely by the JNF/KKL, from evicting the twelve members of the Sumarin family, including five children, a pregnant mother, and a grandfather on dialysis, from their house in Silwan in East Jerusalem. The JNF/KKL took possession of the family home by unfairly exploiting Israel’s Absentee Property Law, and has then pursued a legal case to evict the family. The eviction may be “legal” according to Israeli law but it is not just, and is a violation of both Jewish and human rights law. The Sumarin family has been living in their home for more than forty years. Jewish law goes to great lengths to prevent evictions, especially in cases in which those evicted will end up “abandoned on the street,” in the words of Moses Maimonides. The laws being used to evict the Sumarin family are only applied towards Arabs and Palestinians, violating the Jewish tradition’s demand to have one law for all, not to oppress the stranger and not to act eifah v’eifah, with a double standard. International law includes significant protections against displacement. For example, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), has declared that “instances of forced eviction are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant and can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances, and in accordance with the relevant principles of international law.” As a person committed to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, I also believe that the evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem constitute an obstacle to peace. I ask you to urge Himnuta to stop the eviction of the Sumarin family from its home. With prayers of peace and justice for Jerusalem.