The “Stolen Homes Coalition,” a collection of anti-Israel groups that promote BDS, recently launched a video called “We Can’t Live There, So Don’t Go There.” It consists of Palestinian Arabs demanding that Airbnb stop renting homes that are beyond Israel’s pre-1967 armistice lines. The video’s title is a pun based on the Airbnb marketing slogan, “Don’t Go There, Live There.”
The claim that Arabs are prevented from living in Israeli-controlled parts of the 1967 territories is false. There are, for example, Arabs residing in a number of Jerusalem neighborhoods that are beyond the 1967 lines, such as Ramot, French Hill, Neve Yaakov and, of course, the Old City. There are also many Arab residents on the Golan Heights.
Israeli Jews might legitimately argue that Airbnb should not rent homes in Palestinian Authority-controlled cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Nablus (Shechem). “We Can’t Live There, So Don’t Go There” would be a good slogan for exposing the PA’s apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from living in the areas it controls.
I was thinking about the whole problem of Palestinians promoting anti-Jewish apartheid when I heard this week’s news about the obstacles to Jews building homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The village, known in Hebrew as Shiloach, was a predominantly Jewish area until Arab pogromists drove the Jews out in 1938.
The process of correcting that historic injustice began in 2002, when a handful of Jews decided to build an apartment building in the neighborhood. Today, approximately 700 Jews reside in the town.
This week, however, the Jerusalem Municipality postponed approval of plans to build additional homes for Jewish residents in Silwan/Shiloach. According to news reports, the Israeli government leaned on the Jerusalem authorities to withhold the building permits, for fear that local Arabs would be angered by the arrival of more Jews.
I have no doubt that some Arabs would be angry about having more Jewish neighbors. There are also some whites in the United States who become angry when Hispanics or African-Americans move in next door. So what?
It wasn’t that long ago that there were American neighborhoods with signs that declared, “No Jews or Dogs Allowed.” Can we accept a return to those days, but this time in parts of Jerusalem?
I don’t presume to tell the Israeli government, or the Jerusalem Municipality, how to run their affairs. I am commenting here on some of the broader principles involved.
The first principle is that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years, and every Jew should have the right to live in any part of the city.
The second principle is that ethnic segregation is wrong. It’s unacceptable in the United States, and it should be just as unacceptable in the Middle East.
The third principle is that ethnic integration promotes peace. A Peace Now spokesman said this week that permitting more Jews to move into Silwan/Shiloach makes “the two-state solution…more difficult.” The opposite is true. Palestinians need to get used to living peacefully with Jewish neighbors in their village, before they can get used to living peacefully with the State of Israel. And if they will not tolerate Jews on their block, then they cannot be trusted to live peacefully in a state that is located in Israel’s back yard.
And the final principle is that surrendering to terrorism is always wrong. The Arab terrorists who drove the Jews out of Silwan/Shiloach in 1938 should not be rewarded. The Arab bullies and rioters who are trying to intimidate the Israeli government to keep Jews from moving into Silwan/Shiloach today should not be rewarded, either.