Yalla Peace: My land, your land

Just as Jews received compensation for what they lost in Europe, Palestinians too should have rights when it comes to their homes.

Gilo panorama 311 (photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg)
Gilo panorama 311
(photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg)
My family owns 33 dunams – about eight acres – adjacent to Gilo, the Jerusalem “suburb” many around the world consider a settlement, which was founded several years after the 1967 War. That’s about 33,000 sq.m.
It’s in a valley that faces Malcha and the sports stadium, surrounded by homes. It’s called the “Tarud” land, and was purchased by my cousin’s grandfather in the 19th century.
Most of the brothers and sisters who owned the land have died, and only one cousin remains. He’s given me power of attorney to represent it.
I have tried. Israeli officials know that I own the land as its representative. Yet the government continues to announce plans to develop in that area. They have never contacted me or my cousins. The various reports on expansion have said new construction will take place on land owned by the Jewish National Fund and private land. “Private land?” What does that mean to Israelis?
THIS WHOLE conflict is about how we treat each other. And while Israelis always complain about how Palestinians treat them, only a few care about how they treat us.
Jews have been severely mistreated and have had their land and property taken from them in European and Arab countries.
Many have already received compensation from European countries. As part of ending this conflict, perhaps those who fled or were forced out of Arab lands will also be compensated.
Palestinian and Israeli refugees exist, but both sides are in denial about each other. Israel doesn’t believe Palestinian refugees should have the ‘right of return’ to their homes and lands, but I wonder how that is different than Jewish rights in other lands?
The Palestinian-Israel conflict is about people on both sides who have suffered and who now have an opportunity to prevent more tragedy and injustice.
Far too many Israelis and Palestinians do not feel this way. Many still believe it is okay to commit an injustice against the other because an injustice was committed at some point against their own.
This is a psychological problem both sides share. We blame each other for terrible acts, but do little to recognize our own wrongdoings.
Violence on both sides continues to rage. Yes, I said both sides. It seems there are Israelis who don’t believe what they do to Palestinians is violence, and there are Palestinians who don’t believe what they are doing to Israelis is violence.
I’M GOING to continue battling for my family land. It’s just south of the Muslim village of Sharafat, in east Jerusalem. I’ve been there several times. Over the years, Israeli forces destroyed a home and closed a well on the land. My family and I have allowed the nearby residents to harvest olives on the land, and the orange zarzour fruit that grows on the bushes that dot the property.
The mukhtar [leader] of the village of Sharafat has repeatedly refused to meet with me – an indication of the growing tension between Christians and Muslims in Palestinian territories that we are not supposed to discuss. It seems there’s discrimination from every direction.
I have been fighting for my land legally, even though Israeli law is not exactly in my favor. But I’m not going to give up.
To me, the land represents the heritage of my people. And anyone who tries to take it will be taken to court.
The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com