First Sheikh Jarrah, and now Silwan. How much more injustice is Israel willing to justify? It is true when they say, you give someone a finger, and they take your entire arm. Located in Occupied East Jerusalem, today 1500+ homes in the neighborhood of Silwan are currently being demolished by Israeli settlers and turned into an archeological park. For the past couple of weeks, social media has gone red with frustration about the situation in Silwan. From weeks left, to days left, to hours left, and now, its widespread outrage has failed to prevent the inevitable. And it certainly is outrageous, infuriating even, that whatever strikes Israel’s fancy, comes at the expense of evicting people from their homes. It is a fact that Palestinians have no voice to be listened to here, no place to occupy, no calculation in this equation. Whatever Israel wants is whatever happens, irrespective of how many lives are killed, how many lifetimes of memories are erased, and how many hearts are shattered.
The Israeli court system has ordered an eviction of Palestinian families in several cases before. The biggest and most recent example being Sheikh Jarrah. It is based on a discriminatory law that supports the claim that the land belonged to Jewish owners before 1948.
In the area of Batan-al-hawa, 13 families have already been evicted, and procedures to demolish homes are currently taking place. The deadline set by the Israeli court to demolish these homes was June 27th, announcing the houses as illegal to be owned by Palestinians, and ordering the owners to leave their homes for Jewish settlers.
This has happened before time and time again. These homes being demolished are among 86 Palestinian properties that Palestinians have been evicted from before. The entire attention towards Palestine’s injustice itself started with the eviction of homes from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in early May. And the fact that the social media outrage sparked by Sheikh Jarrah is again, repeated for the same form of injustice is quite heartbreaking. Not only did the outrage not prevent what happened in Sheikh Jarrah, but it failed to further prevent it from happening again in Silwan. And the worst of it is, that the Israeli apartheid continues, with plans to demolish homes in Lifta, a Palestinian Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and Beita, another Palestinian town in the Northern West Bank.
As part of its policy of changing the demography of areas in Jerusalem by building Jewish settlements, it appears that the government’s aim is to make both East and West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The irony of the matter is that by international law, forced expulsions by Israeli settlers is illegal, yet these rulings can only be objected to in Israeli court, the only place where the matter is not illegal.
While the unfounded cruelty and injustice surrounding such an act is obviously more than worthy of outrage, it is not the key to maintaining the discussion regarding Palestine’s entitlement to peace. What we mean to say is, the demolition of Palestinians from their homes, is not the first thing we have encountered in terms of their oppression. There have been baseless deaths, relentless oppression, and endless forms of injustice. From being imprisoned in cruel conditions, to feeling like a stranger in your own land, none of this is a surprise. And that is precisely the issue.
But, as much as it has become normalized, the harder we must push the narrative in the best way we can. Even when it feels hopeless and pointless, it is not. Even if the social media outrage has failed to change the demolition more than once, they have served awareness in one way or another. And, even if we can’t physically do anything as outside observers, the only right thing to do is to elicit change with what we have. After all, if Palestinians continue to fight despite being so familiarized with their brutal conditions, the least we could do is continue to talk, even if it feels like this talk hasn’t turned sufficient heads. Instead of thinking of these conditions as the norm and therefore exempt from change, we must think of them as outrageous, despite their normalization, and thereby, in dire need of that very change. And for those reasons, we must use what we have, whether it’s our knowledge, our technological privilege, or our basic existence as human beings of ethical values, to help make this change happen. No matter how pointless or ineffective it may feel. Israel may feel entitled to inflict as much pain in all its forms to others, but one way or another, we must keep fighting until it is held accountable for this pain. Until it will think twice, at best once, before acting like it’s the only number in the equation.