Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Sarah Zouabi, who is from a well-known Muslim family of Zionist sympathizers, came out this week in favor of the Jews in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhoods (deceptively known in the media as Sheikh Jarrah; see below).

Zouabi’s recent Facebook post reads like a Jewish Zionist primer: “The People of Israel did not ‘illegally conquer’ anything. They returned to the land of their forefathers after being expelled from their land, wanting only to live in peace with those who did conquer it. Even just a few decades ago, in Jerusalem, Hevron, and other places, Jews were living here on their own lands and were expelled.”


“The Jews who have returned to their homes suffer from violent attacks, at risk to their lives, on a daily basis,” Zouabi wrote.

What has been happening in Shimon HaTzaddik of late? As Akiva Novick wrote in Haaretz today, “The chain of events in Sheikh Jarrah cannot be recounted starting only with [MK Ben-Gvir’s] decision to establish his parliamentary office there last week. It starts way before, with the repeated violent attacks on resident Tal Yeshuviaev – a Jew who lives in an individual house built on Jewish-owned property. There is no dispute about that, nor about the fact that his car was set on fire nine times [!] since the summer, and that firebombs were thrown at his house.”

Back to Sarah Zouabi’s post: “Legally speaking, it is clear: The lands of Sheikh Jarrah were purchased by Jewish communities back in 1875, and were conquered by the Jordanians [in 1948], who distributed them to [Arabs] of eastern Jerusalem. The Arabs in Sheikh Jarrah claim that the area is theirs, but this claim was rejected by the courts. The Jews showed documentation proving their ownership – documentation that was checked by the best experts and found to be original and authentic.”

The outspoken Muslim activist Zouabi is a member of a family and clan that refused to participate in the war against the Jews in 1948. At least one of its members, however – former MK Hanin Zouabi – was far from pro-Israel, and actually expressed pro-terrorist positions over the years. She was suspended from Knesset activity after the Turkish-sponsored anti-Israel flotilla in 2010. Films of the event showed that Zouabi was present when terrorists on one of the ships were making plans to attack Israeli soldiers, which they did; nine terrorists were killed in the ensuing battle. Zouabi had close ties with former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel after being suspected of aiding Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, and last year, she was convicted of forgery and fraud.

Sarah Zouabi, on the other hand, follows her family tradition more closely. In her comments on the explosive situation in the named Jerusalem neighborhoods, she complained that those who generally protest against what they view as Jewish occupation now support the illegal Arab occupation of these Jerusalem properties: “Where are all the hypocritical ‘justice seekers’? Why do they not now support the return of the [Jewish] landowners to their homes, but rather defend illegal occupation? Suddenly, court decisions are not important, Mr. Mosi Raz?” (Raz is a former Peace Now leader who outspokenly defends the illegal Arab squatters.)

Actually, the Arab violence and protests are taking place not in Sheikh Jarrah but in the adjacent Jewish neighborhoods of Nachlat Shimon and Shimon HaTzaddik. Sheikh Jarrah was established for wealthy Arabs around 90 years ago, whereas the Jewish neighborhoods are close to a half-century older. But as we have noted in the past, the Arab side finds it more convenient to have the area known by its Arab name – and the media generally plays along.

The Jews were evacuated from the area by the ruling British in April 1948, following rampant Palestinian Arab attacks such as the one in which 78 Jewish doctors, nurses and other personnel were murdered on their way to the Hadassah Hospital enclave. With no Jews left in the neighborhoods, the Jordanians easily captured the area in 1948. Though they retained the Jewish registration of the properties, the Jordanians allowed some Arabs to live there as protected, rent-paying tenants.

When the Israelis liberated all of Jerusalem in 1967, they kindly allowed the tenants to continue living there. The Arab squatters took advantage of the Israeli beneficence, and many of them either stopped paying the ridiculously low rent asked of them, or built on the land illegally, or both. Over the years, the rightful owners of the properties, or their heirs, have begun demanding justice via the Israeli courts. Urged on by Arab and left-wing elements who do not wish to see the area recognized as Jewish, the squatters refused all compromise, even on terms very favorable to them. As of now, the legal battle rages on, with the rights of the Jewish property owners continually being recognized.

As former MK Aryeh Eldad wrote this week: “The famous [Nazi-sympathizer] Mufti of Jerusalem lived in Sheikh Jarrah, and his spiritual descendants, and their Jewish helpers, raise PLO flags in the heart of Jerusalem, enlist world public opinion in blood libels, and wildly incite against Jews’ right to live in a Jerusalem neighborhood… The debased [opponents of Jewish rights in Shimon HaTzaddik] say that just like Arabs cannot return to their homes in [western Jerusalem], so too Jews cannot return to Sheikh Jarrah [sic]. This is because for the post-modernists, there is no more ‘right and wrong,’ and no ‘righteous and evil’; they don’t see a difference between the Arab enemy that sought to destroy the State of Israel and the victims of this violence who miraculously emerged victorious.”

All that is needed, Eldad wrote, is a police patrol in the neighborhood 24/7, and a government that is willing to enforce its own laws. This is something that even much of the Arab population can agree to – as evidenced by Sarah Zouabi.


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Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is the former senior editor of Arutz-7. For bus tours of the capital, to take part in Jerusalem advocacy efforts or to keep abreast of KeepJerusalem's activities, e-mail [email protected].