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David K. Rees

Terrorism in Jerusalem: Who stole land? Hypocrisy at the United Nations

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
There was a horrible shooting Friday Night in East Jerusalem. In the worst terrorist attack in Israel in seven years, a single gunman murdered seven Israels and wounded at least three others as they came out of a Synagogue after Shabbat prayers. Within five minutes, Israeli police had responded and killed the fleeing gunman. The gunman was apparently acting alone, but I do not know how he obtained the gun with which he committed the murders. The response among many Palestinians was to celebrate the killings.
The shooting took place in Neve Yaakov, a largely-Haredi neighborhood which Israel annexed as part of Jerusalem after the 1967 war. Originally, the land was  PURCHASED by American Jews, who established a Jewish neighborhood there. In 1948, with Jordan’s Arab Legion approaching, the Jews in the neighborhood fled. The Arab Legion then took over the land and cleansed it of Jews. The Arab Legion’s invasion of Israel  across an internationally-recognized border, the Jordan River, is both factually and morally indistinguishable from Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine,

Now, Israel’s critics maintain that when Israel retook the land in the 1967 war, it “stole” Arab land. Since the land had been purchased by Jews,  the Arabs stole Jewish land, not the other way around.

As is so often the case, the response of the United Nations was hypocritical. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned the terrorist attack, calling for peace on both sides. In fact, the United Nations bears some responsibility for the attack.

The murders took place in a neighborhood close to the Shuafat refuge camp, which is operated by The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA  teaches the “right of return” (that is the destruction of Israel) and glorifies terrorists in its schools. It uses textbooks that are filled with anti-semitic statements. The textbooks also contain incitement to violence and glorify terrorism. In Gaza, UNRWA has been taken over by Hamas. Given the growth of Hamas on the West Bank in recent months, it seems likely that it will take over UNRWA facilities on the West Bank and Shuafat, too. Recently, UNRWA, pleading poverty, asked the United Nations for 1.6 Billion dollars so that it can continue its work.

UNRWA, which serves only Palestinians, has grown dramatically since it was established by the UN in 1950. While accurate numbers are not available, it appears that the number of Arab refugees of 1948, not all of whom required assistance, was somewhere between 472,000 and 700,000 people. Because it serves not only the Arabs who were displaced by the 1948 war but their descendants as well, UNRWA now serves over 5.9 million Palestinians. The entire rest of the world is served by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

It seems the ultimate in hypocrisy, to both condemn terrorism and fund UNRWA, as well.

About the Author
Before making Aliyah from the United States, I spent over three decades as a lawyer in the United States. My practice involved handling many civil rights cases, including women's- rights cases, in State and Federal courts. I handled numerous constitutional cases for the ACLU and argued one civil rights case in the United States Supreme Court. I chaired the Colorado Supreme Court's Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure and served on the Colorado Supreme Court's Civil Rules and Rules of Evidence Committees. Since much of my practice involved the public interest, I became interested in environmental law and worked closely with environmental organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). I was on the Rocky Mountain Board of EDF. I received an award from the Nebraska Sierra Club as a result of winning a huge environmental case that was referred to me by EDF. I also developed significant knowledge of hazardous and radioactive waste disposal. I was involved in a number of law suits concerning waste disposal, including a highly-political one in the United States Supreme Court which involved the disposal of nuclear waste. As I child I was told by my mother, a German, Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany, that Israel was a place for her and her child. When I first visited Israel many years later, I understood what she meant. My feeling of belonging in Israel caused me to make Aliyah and Israel my home. Though I am retired now, I have continued my interest in activism and the world in which I find myself.
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