Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bet El’s Ulpana Hill: Outrage Alongside a Sane Plan of Action

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I am outraged to the core by the recent Israeli Supreme Court decision to demolish the homes of thirty Jewish families in Bet El’s Ulpana Neighborhood which were built on land purchased from an Arab.

I hunger fasted for the four days leading up to the June 6th Knesset vote on the Arrangements Bill which had it passed, would have resolved the issue in a just way through legislation.

The facts and background of this case are presented in detail in a separate article being published alongside this one entitled: Bet El’s UlpanaNeighborhood: The Background and Facts.

Why I believe the Supreme Court Decision is Not Just

1)      The Supreme Court is rushing to demolish these 30 apartment units before the Jerusalem District Court has determined who the real owners are. You heard correctly. In the ongoing Civilian Case #36209-09-11, the lower court may yet determine that Bet El Institutions are the rightful owners. It will likely take some two years for the lower court to review the evidence and issue its ruling.
2)      In 2000, Bet El Institutions, under the leadership of Rabbi Zalman Melamed and Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz negotiated with the Arab land owner alongside their respective attorneys, and paid Ibrahim Judah Mustafa Hasan a large sum of money to legally purchase the 7.4 acres (30 dunams) in accordance with Israeli law. Even if Bet El erred (which the lower court has not yet determined) and purchased the land from the wrong man, once the apartment buildings are built, it is commonplace in legal proceedings to compensate the rightful owner, and not demolish the homes.

3)      The case for compensation instead of demolition is strengthened when considering that the Arabs who later claimed to be the owners stood silent for 7 complete years while Bet El built and populated the Ulpana neighborhood on “their” land. They took no legal action even though the construction is in clear view with the naked eye from their homes in the neighboring Arab village.
4)      The case for compensation is strengthened when considering that a law exists in pre-1967 Israel which forbids destruction of buildings in such a scenario and dictates that the court should determine who should compensate and who should be compensated. While a  Knesset bill is required to extend the that law to Judea and Samaria, the law’s very existence is testimony to its being the just solution.
5)      The case for compensation is further strengthened when considering that the Arabs who claim the land will never derive benefit from it. I would have more sympathy for the Supreme Court ruling if the Arabs who filed suit had intentions to build a bowling alley there, establish a Halal meat stand, or build a Kassam rocket factory. But, the land will sit barren as it has been for centuries, by order of the IDF since it would be a security breach to allow the Arabs access to the middle of a Jewish town.
6)      I am further outraged by the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court justices have usurped exaggerated power over the elected officials of the State of Israel who asked the court to reconsider their position. The court responded saying, “No, we will not allow you to rethink your position. You, the government, said to demolish the homes, and we, the court, have determined that to be your final position even though you think otherwise.” US Legal Expert Robert Bork has called the Israeli Supreme Court “the greatest threat to democracy in Israel,” because of its activist policy of usurping power over the executive branch.
7)      I am outraged that the State Prosecution misrepresented the government position in its presentation to the court. I am disappointed that Prime Minister Netanyahu did not have the strength to call the prosecution to task or simply replace them.
8)     Many lands were distributed by King Abdallah of Jordan to Arabs whom he rewarded for their loyalty. These lands were not purchased and often never used. Such is the case with the 7.4 acres of the Ulpana Hill. It is rocky terrain and was never used. Would it not be just for these lands which were distributed for free by the Jordanian (and earlier by the Turkish) ruler to revert back to being state-owned lands under Israeli rule?
9)     Bet El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum said that his personal friend, the Mayor of Abu Gosh (an Israeli Arab town near Jerusalem) told him that there is not one legally-built home amongst his entire constituency. So Mr. Rosenbaum suggests that if the court wishes to demolish illegally-built homes, why not start in chronological order with the thousands of Arab homes that were determined illegal years ago. Why start with these five Jewish apartment buildings in Bet El?

The Plan to Save the Ulpana Homes
I am outraged, but I am not broken. We are amidst a major struggle and we have good chances of winning. Here is the game plan.

Knesset member Ketzaleh is spearheading the efforts to convince government ministers to, at the very least, refrain from demolishing the homes, even if they expel the Jewish residents. "Even in the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain, they didn't destory the Jewish buildings. You can go there today and see Jewish structures," Ketzaleh has told government officials.  This compromise which partially honors the court ruling has good chances of being adopted by the government.

Thus, the key is with the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu himself said several times that the court decision to demolish the Bet El homes is “a decree that the public cannot accept.”

There exist precedents of Supreme Court rulings that the executive branch, with its broad scope and power as elected representatives of the people, has refused to abide by. For example, the court has ruled many times to allow Jews to pray freely on the Temple. To this day, the Israel Police forbid Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount because they say it would cause Arab rioting.

Netanyahu needs our help. If they sense enough pressure, Netanyahu and his ministers can adopt a compromise course of action.

Here is how to do it: 

1)      Donate. The single most important way to participate in the struggle is to donate. Bet El Institutions is alone in waging the legal battle, in paying for all the publicity associated with the campaign, in bussing protestors to various venues, and all other aspects of the struggle. The fees for the campaign are great to the point that we have spread out expenses via loans to be paid back over the next twelve months. There are several initiatives to stop the demolition which are not being publicized. These are also very costly.

Please make a one-time or recurring contribution. Many small donations add up. You become a part of the struggle.
Donate here: BetElInstitutions.com

2)      Write emails. Write emails to the following government ministers demanding justice for the residents of the Ulpana Hill. Let them feel that there are masses of people who are outraged by this development:

b.      For other ministers, go to this page:
Write to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon, Minister of Culture and Sport LImor Livnat, Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon, Minister of Education Gidon Saar, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

3)      Protest. If you are in Israel, join the protest tents in Bet El and block the demolition through non-violent civil disobedience. If Netanyahu needs to see masses of protestors, he is more likely to refrain from demolishing the homes.
4)   Spiritual Activism. Don’t forget to open your hearts to Hashem in prayer to strengthen the Jewish People in Israel in general, and to save the Ulpana homes in Bet El in particular. If you study in Yeshiva, dedicate learning time to saving the homes in Bet El. Our cries can change the ruling in the Supreme of all Supreme Courts.

Don't rely on others. Make even a small monthly donation, write a few emails, come to the protest tents, and pray. Together we shall succeed.
In the big picture, we are winning. Even if G-d forbid they demolish the homes, there are many good things that will yet come out of it.

More on that in a later post.

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  1. very informative article. I have been in Abu Ghosh many times. If that is the case concerning the homes there, why spotlight the Beit El homes for censure?

  2. "Netanyahu needs our help."

    WTF? He is the one who did this to you. You have battered wife syndrome!

  3. This upcoming destruction of these Jewish homes really is upsetting to say the least. How can the Israeli government bring what is no different, really, than a pogrom against her own people? It is profoundly evil and umnjust. One would think that after Gush Katif this craziness would never, ever happen again.

  4. BB can do this because he, Barak, & Co. are Edomites!!! They were absorbed into Jewry by John Hyrcanus. Why do you think BB has backtracked on EVERYTHING he has ever said or done about having a P.A. State within the borders of Israel??? The religious TORAH Jews are being set up to be destroyed!!! READ Albert Pike's Plan, especially: Morals & Dogmas!!! Pike's Plan is to destroy ALL monotheirstic religions and replace it with unversal worship of Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan. THIS is also the "god" that Talmudic Jews worship, though they will vehemently deny this in public but teach it behind closed doors in their Synagogues. If any want to dispute about this, then they can explain what their "Kol Nidre Prayer" is, which is a "prayer" to lie/cheat/steal and expect God to not do anything about it because they informed Him they were going to do this ahead of time. Yes "David," people are WAKING UP and are on to you. I hope the Torah Jews wake up too to realize that THEIR enemy, Edom, is in the midst of them to destroy them!!!

  5. it's precisely because of jews like barry gordon that bet el's homes are about to be demolished

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