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Elie Wiesel and Amos Yadlin congratulate East Jerusalem settlers

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin of the centrist think tank is among the signatories of an ad praising the Jewish settlers who entered 25 apartments in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan last week. ‘By your act of settlement you make us all stand taller,’ the ad reads. Yadlin and Wiesel serve on the public council of Elad, the organization behind the settlement in Silwan.

The City of David archaeological park, against the background of Silwan (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

The City of David archaeological park, against the background of Silwan (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

One of the most dramatic settlement efforts in decades took place a couple of weeks ago, when 25 apartments in the Palestinian neighborhood Silwan, in East Jerusalem, were occupied by Jewish settlers. Silwan is the prize trophy for the settler movement, since it sits right on the edge of the Old City, inside the Holy Basin. The new Israeli push into the Palestinian part of the city was condemned by the international community and stood at the heart of the media coverage during Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. The settlement effort, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, was carried out “by individuals who are associated with an organization whose agenda, by definition, stokes tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The settlement activities in Silwan are carried out by a non-governmental organization called Elad, which is said to have had good ties with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jerusalem Municipality. The government appointed Elad to run City of David, the Jewish archaeological site in Silwan, and an attempt to give Elad rights near the Western Wall was recently struck down by the High Court.

Peace groups and investigative journalists have been warning for years about the role Elad plays in changing the demographic and political reality in East Jerusalem. (A comprehensive background document to the Israeli effort to take over Silwan can be found here.) Elad itself doesn’t have a web site, and the government has granted it a waiver from the requirement to disclose its considerable financial sources.

This morning, Elad’s public council ran an ad in Haaretz congratulating the settlers who entered the Palestinian neighborhood. The ad is signed by the chairman of the public council, Nobel Prize Laureat Elie Weisel. Weisel, a Holocaust survivor, is known for his support of Israel’s effort to settle Palestinian East Jerusalem. In the past, he has confronted the Obama administration for its criticism of government projects beyond the Green Line.

Other names include former Israeli Chief of Police, former head of the Prime Minister’s Office and that of the director of the Institute for National Security Studies, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin.

Yadlin’s role with Elad is of special interest. The INSS presents itself as a security-oriented, realist think tank, so the fact that its head serves in the public council of a religious, ideologically-driven settler organization is particularly telling. Yadlin is also considered pretty close to the dovish Labor party, and he apparently mulled a run in the party’s primaries before the previous Knesset elections. (Rumors are that Yadlin is still considers entering politics with one of the centrist parties.)

The ad reads: “On the eve of Sukkot, we are happy to congratulate the dozens of Jewish families that are joining the Israeli settlement of Ir David [the settlers’ name for Silwan – N.S.]. We salute the Zionist work of those who take part in this mission. Strengthening Jewish presence in Jerusalem is the challenge for all of us, and by your act of settlement you make us all stand taller.”

ELAD ad congratulating East Jerusalem settlers

Elad ad congratulating East Jerusalem settlers

Last week, Haaretz revealed that Elad is looking to hire Israeli Jews to occupy the homes it purchased in Palestinian neighborhoods. The payment stands at 500 NIS (136 USD) per day. The job requirement: A licensed gun.

Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night
In Silwan, the settlers are winning – big time
A couple of Netanyahu’s not-so-white lies to Americans

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    1. CigarButNoNice

      “Ir David [the settlers’ name for Silwan – N.S.]”

      Keep it up, next you’ll be saying Jerusalem is “the settlers’ name” for Al Quds, or that Konya (in Anatolia) is the original name for what “Hellenic settlers” called Iconion (http://shorl.com/pradokiryjosu).

      Anti-Zionist revisionist denial of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel puts Holocaust Denial to shame in its extent.

      The truth will out: All Arabs on the Land of Israel are colonists, and their population centers illegal settlements; all Jews on the Land of Israel are the indigenous and rightful owners. Justice demands that the Arabs evacuate their ill-gotten gains for the sake of peace. No justice, no peace!

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron

        You’ve been snorting too much Ziocaine ! LOL !

        Reply to Comment
    2. Jason Berger

      What a BS article this is. Does it ever mention that the houses in Silwan were bought legally. Regardless of any agenda by Elad, why is it wrong for Jews to buy property legally, and move into that property.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        The problem is that the entire Israeli legal system “strongly discourages” Palestinians from buying property freely; 90% of the land in Israel is managed/owned by the state and they put up as many bureacratic roadblocks as possible to keep “Jewish areas” Jewish. A lot of housing is built on state-managed land and Palestinians live there only on the whim of various committees and governmental organizations. If you don’t look closely it all looks fair but on examination of the details it’s Jim Crow. See the website of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions for details on the legal system.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn7

          I call bullshit. Israeli authorities, including the ILA are legally prohibited from discriminating against Arabs. So is the JNF.

          Reply to Comment
      • A simple enough question

        “Regardless of any agenda by Elad, why is it wrong for Jews to buy property legally, and move into that property.”

        Because it is taking place under the authority of an occupying power, and – by definition – an occupation is intended to be a temporary state of affairs.

        Get it?

        So this is all part of a policy to alter the demographics of a territory, even though an occupier is prohibited by international law from having any such policy goal.

        So the answer to your question is this: “That’s up to the Palestinians to decide, not the Israelis, and every time Israel forces that decision on the Palestinians then That Is Wrong”.

        Reply to Comment
      • CigarButNoNice

        That Wikipedia article provides a good summary of the mindset driving Islamic imperialism.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Jonathan

      The very sad fact is that an overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis regard non-Jews with suspicion, mistrust, derision, and often outright hatred. Non-Jewish citizens of Israel may be equal in law, but are from being treated as equals by Jewish Israelis. Non-Jewish residents of the occupied territories including East Jerusalem are regarded and treated even less well. The fact that houses in Silwan may have been bought legally is beside the point. Non-Jews are being deliberately driven from their traditional neighbourhoods by Jews, and it is a sad irony that Elie Wiesel can see no parallel in this to the fate of millions of Jews in the 20th century.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ricardo

        “Non-Jews are being deliberately driven from their traditional neighbourhoods by Jews”

        Oh, you mean like what happens everyday to Blacks and Hispanics in Fort Green, Park Slope and Bedford Sty in Brooklyn? Over there it’s called “Gentrification” Except the “drivers” are white yuppies. Somehow I haven’t noticed many demonstrations there lately. I guess it’s because those same yuppies belong to the BDS crowd.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gavin

          Ricardo, you use a great example of serious north American social injustice caused by the unequal balance of money and power which excludes the black America community from rising up the ladder! That’ll be like when Netanyahu pointing at Syria and saying ‘look over there, why don’t you pick on them!’. In many ways the injustice of the black American is parallel to the injustice laid on the Palestinians, they are both being shafted but the same global corporate political construct… well done for drawing our attention.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn7

      Explain something to me Noam…

      You support a one state solution. In this one state solution would a Jew be allowed to buy property in Jerusalem or would there be a law against that? Or would it depend on that Jew having political positions that are to your liking? Would there be a court that would determine which Jew can and which Jew can’t buy property?

      Seriously, what is it with this racist garbage about how terrible it is when Jews buy property in Jerusalem and move into it? I understand if you were a supporter of the two state solution and thought [delusionally] that Israel would give up parts of Jerusalem for such an outcome. You can at least claim that Jews moving into some neighborhoods would make partition harder. At least that would make some misguided sense. But you are not a two state person, nor is the criticism posted on this site based on that. It appears to be really just about supporting some weird racist view the Arabs hold in which it is legitimate to keep certain areas Jew-free.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        The fanatics just don’t quit and there’s no reasonable conversation to be had. Just for starters, you obviously know that an Arab has no where near the same access to buying land anywhere in Israel that a Jew has. Except for tightly proscribed areas. But that just couldn’t matter less to you. The pure brazen right wing baloney content, and of baloney badly past it’s sell by date, on these comment boards defies belief.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn7

          If you want to have a conversation about where Arabs can and can’t buy in Israel that would be fine. I am perfectly happy to dispel the bullshit that passes for fact around here. For example the ILA and JNF are legally prohibited from discriminating against Arabs as of 2005.

          Yet what I hear here is a call to prohibit Jews from legally acquiring houses in areas of Jerusalem which fanatics insist must be Jew-free.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            As Bruce Gould explains above, Israel is a Jim Crow society when it comes to Arabs. And this is the thing, Kolumn, you know this. You are simply not honest about this. This “Judenrein!” charge is SO dishonest. I steal my neigbor’s house, he wants to throw me out and take his house back. I scream “He wants a Jew-free house!” What dishonesty.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn7

            Let me be honest. Bruce Gold and others like him are full of crap guided by information provided by politically driven organizations that spout garbage. The charge that 80% of the land is off limits to Arabs by law is garbage, complete and utter garbage. The charge that Arabs are legally excluded from pursuing whatever career path they want is garbage, complete and utter garbage.

            The only legitimate charge is that there is racism that exists in Israel as it does in any society. Here it is amplified by the ongoing ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs.

            The “Judenrein” claim is factual and quite obvious when you strip away the BS decorations that have been heaped against it. Is this being protested because Israeli citizens are buying houses? No, no one makes any noise when hundreds of Israeli Arabs buy houses in the same neighborhoods. And, that is the operative term, BUY, not steal, as EVERYONE at this point admits that the houses were purchased and they were purchased legally. So, what is your charge then? Is it that a Jew is “stealing” a house even when he legally purchased it as a premium? On what basis? The only basis you can justify it on is to argue that somehow this is “Arab land” and no Jew has the right to live there even if the Jew legally purchases the land. If that is not a Judenrein argument I don’t know what is.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Elie Wiesel needs money after losing 20 million dollars to Bernie Madoff. I’m sure NIS 500 per day sounds pretty good to him!

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard

      Is Silwan goes to Israel, so what? Until recently it was mostly a barren hill, and then became a crowded neighborhood separated from West Jerusalem by the outcome a battle between Israel and the Hashemites. The far-left has abandoned pragmatism if they think this is a battle worth fighting. If you want a Palestinian state, try proposing borders that might work instead of haggling over a neighborhood in Jerusalem that Israel will never give up anyway.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Omar Amin von Leers

      Forget Kobani or Ebola. Obama should organize a coalition of the EU, Iran, Turkey, Arab states, Russia and China to oust israel from Al Quds

      Reply to Comment
      • Leo

        Applying the UN resolution seems more reasonable, my friend.

        And in apparently unlikely case your post meant “non military” and diplomatic coalition (which would be infinitely better in my eyes), your post is a tautology. This diplomatic coalition already exists, the US being almost the only country in the world that refuses to be part of it (and blocks it).

        Reply to Comment
    8. Margot Dunne

      I suspect that all you Zionist persons had better come to terms with the one-state-for-two-peoples paradigm, because you’ve certainly well & truly wrecked the two-state idea with your invincible settlements. Unhappily that will also wreck the “Jewish State” vision for good. Your fault, I think!

      Reply to Comment
    9. Average American

      Elad, the privately funded organization that does not have to disclose its budget or its contributors, says “We salute the Zionist work of those participating in this mission.” What is the Zionist Mission? When Elad says “Zionist”, does it mean the same as Herchel did, and Ben Gurion, Begin, Shamir, etc? Is Zionism where Jews take over The Land Of Israel? Then what is The Land Of Israel? Is it still Lebanon, Syria, half of Iraq (to the Euphrates), Jordan, a quarter of Western Saudi Arabia, and Sinai (to the River of Egypt), as Herschel etc said it is?

      Reply to Comment
    10. Rachamim Dwek

      What is being ignored in the article is that not only is so called “Silwan” and adjacent “Sheikh Jarrah” historically Jewish, they were both predominantly Jewish demographically until the 1948 War.

      In 1892 the first residents in the area now inhabited by the Jews that this magazine refers to as “Settlers” were Yemenite Jews who moved into a subsidised housing estate jointly owned by the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbinates of Jerusalem. The two Chief Rabbinates jointly purchashed the land surrounding the tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik and the Cave of the Little Sanhedrin- Hasmonean Era Jewish Shrines- in the “Sheikh Jarrah” section.

      The purchase of course, classified as a “Miri to Mulk Conversion” under the extant Ottoman System thus took State Land cultivated by the Arab who sold the tract, and converted it to fully private land owned outright by the Chief Rabbinates of Jerusalem.

      In the War of 1948 the Jews of so called “Sheikh Jarrah ” were literally Ethnically Cleansed by Arabs who were operating with British connivance ahead of the Hashemite’s “Royal Arab Legion,” commanded by retired British officers.

      So called “Silwan,” vis a vis properties now controlled by the NGO “El Ad,” were all Jewish-owned when the residents were Ethnically Cleansed in 1948 (along with the Jews of so called “Silwan”). Most were owned by a Jewish consortium known as “PIKA ,” formerly “ICA” (established 1894, converted to PIKA in 1924 and dissolved in 1957, at which point, with no inheritor the properties would have reverted to the State of Israel had there not been an illegal Jordanian Occupation and subsequent Annexation).

      When Israel liberated the area in 1967 the Israeli High Court protected the rights of Arabs occupying looted homes and properties, awarding them “Protected Tennant” status. So long as they paid a symbolic annual rent that never exceeded $40.00 US, and so long as they did not modify the exterior of any structure by expansion or addition they were allowed to remain until the head of household AND his eldest son died, according to the Ottoman Era status quo that was retained by both the British and Israel.

      In the First Intifadeh The PLO ordered Palestinians to stop paying all lease payments to Israel. Sadly for those Palestinians living in looted Jewish properties, many gladly complied the PLO’s request. Those that did nullified their Protected Status. So did the few that built new rooms or added storefronts.

      Israel has been more than fair. While the PA has tried to execute (sucessfully in some cases not so in others) Palestinian even leasing land to Jews- including cases where Jews have purchased their own property back from Palestinians (Beit HaShalom in Hebron for example), Israel has allowed Palestinians to continue to live and/or work in stolen Jewish homes (PA Penal Code specifies “Israeli,” not “Jew” but in practice Israeli Arabs are not only permitted to buy land but welcomed while, as noted, leasing or selling to a Jew is a capital offence).

      All this is ignored in this article. All this is absolutely crucial for a full unbiased examination of this dynamic.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mark

      “the holy basin”
      Come on, you must be making it up?

      Reply to Comment
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