In Sheikh Jarrah, an Ordinary Property Dispute Has Become a Pretext for Terror

A consumer of Western media could easily conclude that the current fighting in Israel was sparked by the Israeli government’s attempt to evict a sizeable number of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem as part of an effort to settle Jews there. Across social media, one can easily find such slogans as “free Sheikh Jarrah,” after the neighborhood where the eviction is supposed to happen. But this story bears almost no resemblance to the truth: the violence has rather more to do with internal Palestinian politics than anything else, and it began before the Sheikh Jarrah affair entered the news. Moreover, as Avi Bell explains, the Israeli government isn’t trying to evict anyone; rather, private landlords are trying to evict four Palestinian families who haven’t been paying rent on their property:

The current dispute in Sheikh Jarrah involves several properties with tenants whose leases have expired, and in a few cases squatters with no tenancy rights at all, against owner-landlords who have successfully won court orders evicting the squatters and overstaying tenants. The litigation has taken several years, and the owners have won at every step. The squatters and overstaying tenants have appealed against the eviction orders to the Supreme Court. The only decision that stands before the Israeli government is whether to honor the courts’ decisions and enforce the eviction orders if affirmed by the Supreme Court, or whether to defy court orders and deny the property owners their legal rights.

Critics claim that the Israeli government should—or even that international law requires the Israeli government to—deny the owners their property rights, but these claims are not based on any credible legal argument. Rather, the critics focus on the fact that the owners in the disputed cases are Jews while the squatters and overstaying tenants are Palestinian Arabs.

Critics of Israel in this case have adopted the bigoted position that property rights should depend on ethnicity and that Jewish ethnicity should be the grounds for denying legal property rights.

Contrary to claims in some media accounts, Israel did not grant anyone ownership to any of the affected properties on the basis of ethnicity. Israeli law respects and upholds the property rights of persons of all ethnicities. Israel has even respected the property rights created by prior regimes that explicitly discriminated against Jews in their property laws—the Ottoman empire, the British Mandate of Palestine, and the Jordanian occupation regime.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Israeli law, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy