I’m tabling other issues today to discuss what I see as priorities:
First, a return to the issue of Beit HaShalom in Hevron: important because the media’s highly politicized distortions in the matter have been considerable.
I have learned that what I reported yesterday — regarding the fact that the High Court did not say Beit HaShalom MUST be evacuated — is indeed true. This is from Elyakim Haetzni — an attorney and former MK, resident in Kiryat Arba — who is the father of attorney Nadav Haetzni, who is representing the Jewish community of Hevron.
Elyakim’s key point, with all of the legalities, is that the police — who in Judea and Samaria report to the State — are conducting themselves in a different manner than would be the case if something similar were happening in Tel Aviv.
When there is a charge by an ostensible owner of a building (in this case the Arab who sold the building) that there are squatters in his building, normally, unless the absolute preponderance of evidence is with the ostensible owner (which certainly is not the case here), the police decline to be involved, advising the purported owner to seek legal action or handle it himself. Here, the police have directly insinuated themselves into what is going on.
A brief sequence of events:
The building was purchased in 2004 by the Jewish community for close to $1 million, via an intermediary, from Palestinian Faiz Rajabi. That intermediary then paid Rajabi to arrange for renovations on the building in preparation for occupancy.
Rajabi, upon discovering — when they took occupancy just over 18 months ago — that the new owners of the building were Jews (which put him in a bad place with the PA), denied having sold his building to them. He went to the police. The new owners, however, had not only solid paper documentation, but also a video documenting the sale. When the video was shown to him, he changed his story and admitted he had sold it but said he had then immediately cancelled the transaction. He did not make his case at that point with the police.
About a year ago, the State reversed itself when high ranking officials for the State Attorney’s office decided that some of the papers connected to the sale — which had been submitted by the new owners — were forgeries. This is critical, because this is what we read about now: the implication being that the Jewish community presented false papers for a sale that never really occurred. An eviction order was issued.
This is where the story gets really strange. The State Attorney’s office declared the papers “confidential” and refused for a period of time to submit them to a handwriting expert on behalf of the Jewish community, even though they had given the papers to the police in the first place.
Finally they permitted Dr. Mordechai Vardi to study the documents. His professional opinion is at the heart of matters here:
Dr. Vardi said the suspected forgeries were “auto-forgeries.” That is, the signatures of the seller in question really were his signatures, but changed by him so that he would be able to claim they weren’t. Said Vardi: “This is a conspicuous indication of a fictitious forgery. Such is the case before us; the [police] investigators’ expert did not seem to realize it.” These deliberate forgeries, he said, were committed so there would be an “exit hatch.”
What is more, payment was made by the buyers in stages from 2004 to 2005, and in each instance Rajabi issued a receipt. Even the police acknowledged that Rajabi’s signatures on the receipts were legitimate. Thus, his argument that he cancelled the deal immediately after signing on to it is demolished — over the course of a year he accepted payments for his property.
Given the above, one might think that the matter would have been closed. The fact that is not makes it blatantly clear that we’re dealing here with politics and not just law. The government of Israel is not interested in a strengthening community in Hevron, since it would hope ultimately to turn all of Judea over to the PA, including Judaism’s second holiest city.
At present the High Court has turned this issue back over to a local court for final decision. But neither the State nor the Court has been willing to listen to an audio tape — with Rajabi, who was not coerced, saying that he sold the house — that the Jewish community recently submitted in evidence.
I’ve been asked by people how they can help here, and my response is two-fold. One way of helping is by promulgating the truth — in discussion, in letters to the editor, etc. The other is by keeping the pressure on the government.
Forty-nine MKs have now sent a letter to Defense Minister Barak and Public Security Minister Dichter asking them “to avoid evacuating the disputed house in Hebron and to show decency and governmental responsibility…. evacuation of the house should be avoided at least until after the elections.”
“We express a sentiment of deep discrimination and injustice which has overshadowed the Beit Hashalom case from the outset. The obscure refusal of the State Prosecution to reexamine the case, in light of the audio recording the settlers obtained, raises difficult emotions.”
Elyakim Haetzni tells me that this letter was accompanied by a statement by Justice Turkel, whom I cited yesterday.
And then, concerning president-elect Obama: The comments have been coming in with regard to that fact that he’s been misjudged and is really pro-Israel. This is said to be so because he has taken Rahm Emanuel on board, and because Al Qaida’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recently released a tape severely criticizing Obama, which is being offered as evidence that the Arabs are not really pleased with him.
I wish matters were that simple.
I would like to cite here Barry Rubin, who is director of the Global Research in International Affairs, from his latest piece, “Don’t flatter your enemies, protect your friends.”
“HOW IMPORTANT is popularity? According to the school enthusiastic about President-elect Barack Obama in the United States, it is everything. One journalist explained that al-Qaida is afraid of Obama because, presumably, he will win away Muslims from supporting radical Islamism. It is written in the Washington Post: ‘Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity.’
“That last statement – intended to imply that even extremists like Obama – is worded with a shocking, though unintentional, ambiguity. It is sure true that Hamas, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and al-Qaida view this ‘change’ as an ‘opportunity.’ Unfortunately, they view it as an opportunity for being more aggressive. (emphasis added.)
“Here’s how Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami put it, in words typical of the reaction from Iran and these other groups. He sees Obama’s slogan of ‘change’ as a retreat caused by Iran’s revolution, which brought down American power, and says the United States is continuing to decline.
“For them, Barack [is] the creator of a more popular America and a figure of weakness. Should there be any doubt that his flexibility will be interpreted as retreat, no matter how well-intentioned he is? (emphasis added)
“THE DEBATE in Washington is far away from the debate in the Middle East. In America’s capital, the talk is of how the radicals are more moderate than thought, how they will be won over by Obama’s charisma and changed American policies. The disconnect between the region and the rationalizers is frightening.
“There is no policy change in Washington that will appease the radicals. And there are no concessions that will make an American president popular in a meaningful way among Middle Easterners. Even more worrisome, such steps are not going to make moderates feel more secure.
“Here the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gets it just right. He tells Obama: ‘It appears that you don’t know anything about the Muslim world and its history… You are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see.'” (emphasis added)