In the last few days, there has been meaningful -but temporary-
progress in our campaign: The JNF-KKL has declared that they will not evict the Sumarin family for the time being and expressed interest in dialogue with the family. (For elaboration, and a more detailed description of the campaign, its organizers and its acheivements in this past week, click here). Furthermore, the court has issued a restraining order preventing the eviction-also for the time being.
First and foremost, we want to thank you all. It is safe say that every one of you that took part in this campaign (which was run in partnership with the Solidarity Movement, RHR-NA and the Jewish Alliance for Change), whether by writing an email or even by posting an article to facebook, has helped achieve this small but stunning achievement. Even we do not know just how many organizations and websites pushed this campaign. We do know that at least 1,000 letters were sent within the first 48 hours.
However, the campaign is far from over, and the family is not safe.
We need your continued help and energy to assist us in calling on the JNF-KKL to do everything in their power to guarantee that the Sumarin family will never be evicted from their home, period.
While the freeze provides temporary respite, the threat of eviction still hangs over the Sumarins, a family of 12 including five children, a pregnant mother, and a grandfather on dialysis. Experience shows (as in the case of the Gozlan family) that negotiations with the KKL can still end with sudden eviction.
Please write the JNF-KKL (see example letter below), whether you have already written them or this will be your first contact. Please thank them for the step they have taken, and tell them that the most just solution would be a formal declaration from the JNF that they will not evict the Sumarin family at all, nor turn over the property to others who might do so. (please
[cc] RHR: email@example.com)
Dear ___________ (select the appropriate email addresses for JNF
Board Members and International Representatives below),
My name is_____. Like many other individuals and organizations around the world, I am deeply concerned by the actions of KKL-JNF (and its subsidiary company Himanutah) in East Jerusalem.
I was happy to hear recently that KKL-JNF and Himanutah decided not to evict the Sumarin family from their house in Silwan, at least for the time being. I was both relieved for the family, and pleased that for now the family’s house will not be transferred to an extremist settler organization, as has happened in the past with properties owned by KKL-JNF/Himanutah. However, the threat of eviction, while temporarily frozen, still exists. This is still your responsibility because the Sumarin house is still controlled by the JNF-KKL via Himanutah.
The JNF-KKL is a United Nations NGO that does very important environmental and ecological work in Israel. I am hopeful that the JNF-KKL and its partners now understand that it is deeply improper for the JNF-KKL to take part in advancing a highly controversial and unjust political agenda centered around the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Silwan and creating “facts on the ground.” By using the “Absentee Property Law” against non-Jews only, we are guilty of eifa v’eifa, double standards, and are violating the Torah’s commands “You shall not oppress the stranger” and “There must be one law for all.” The home never should have been taken from the family, and for many years the Custodian for Absentee Property would at least award properties to family
members who were living in homes taken under this law. For a brief period of time, Israel began to take inhabited properties, evict families and award them to settlers. However, following what was known as the Klugman Report (1992), a government commissioned report whose findings were sharply critical of the use of the Absentee Property Law in the East Jerusalem context, the State recognized that this policy was wrong and promised the Court to stop using it. In this case, a court has unfortunately ruled that the JNF-KKL/Himanutah may evict the family because, due to a misunderstanding, the family failed to put up a defense in 2005.
You now have the ability to right the wrong that started with the use of a law which should have never been used, continued when the Custodian failed to return the land to the family, and was capped by a miscarriage of justice when you exploited the fact that the family did not defend themselves in court in 2005. Even then, the court never obligated Himanutah to evict the family. They simply permitted Himanutah to do so.
Now that the case is back in court, the JNF-KKL/Himanutah can go one step beyond freezing the eviction by acknowledging that Israel committed itself not to evict families via the Absentee Property Law, and by simply declining to fight the case further. You could even cooperate with a cancellation of the initial decision to declare the property as Absentee Property.
The choice between right and wrong is in your hands.
The effects are broader than this specific injustice: the settler organizations in East Jerusalem are acting to create an irreversible situation in the “Holy
Basin” that will eliminate any chance for co-existence in Jerusalem. In my eyes, if the Sumarin family is evicted, JNF-KKL/Himanutah, will become, de facto, an active partner to this frightening agenda.
I turn to you, in light of your influential role in the JNF, to ask you to put forward an official statement detailing the JNF’s intention to cancel all plans for the eviction of the Sumarin family, committing not to turn over the property to another body that might carry out the eviction, acknowledging the family as the rightful owners of the property, and announcing the cessation of Himanutah’s involvement in the purchasing properties over the green line and its cooperation with extremist settler organizations.
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