On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has a long history of antagonism toward Israel, claimed on “Face The Nation” that the United States should “develop an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He insisted that “over the years the [Benjamin] Netanyahu government has become extremely right-wing and that there are people in the Israeli government now who are overt racists.” Sanders also snapped that the United States has been “simply supplying weapons to kill children in Gaza,” and “Our job is not simply to put more and more military support for Israel,” and claimed that “in West Jerusalem people are being evicted from their homes.”
If Sanders was referring in that “eviction” comment to Sheikh Jarrah, not only did he get his geography wrong, as it lies in East Jerusalem, but the often claimed notion that Palestinians have been unfairly evicted from their homes there does not take into account the complete history of the area. As Micha Danzig has written in The Jewish Journal:
“Sheik Jarrah” is an Arab neighborhood that was established in 1865. And before 1949, there was a separate Jewish neighborhood within it. For about 2000 years before that, this area was known by the name “Shimon HaTzadik” (Simon the Righteous), named after the famous rabbinical sage whose tomb is located there. … the Sephardic Community Committee and the Ashkenazi Assembly of Israel purchased the tomb and its surrounding land (about 4.5 acres) in 1875. Shortly thereafter, it, along with the neighborhood of Kfar Hashiloah in the Silwan area of Jerusalem, became home to many, mostly Yemenite, Jews who had migrated to Jerusalem (Zion) back in 1881. Notably, by 1844, Jews were the largest ethnic population in Jerusalem.
Between 1936 and 1938, and then again in 1948, the British Empire assisted Arabs, incited by raw-Jew hatred, in ripping Jews from their homes in Shimon HaTzadik (and in Kfar Hashiloah). …
… after TransJordan (now Jordan) invaded Israel as part of an express attempt by the entire Arab League to destroy Israel and “push the Jews into the sea,” TransJordan’s British-created and British-led Arab Legion captured Judea and Samaria, all of the Old City of Jerusalem and many of its surrounding neighborhoods, including the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood. Then the Arab Legion either killed or ethnically cleansed every last Jew. Not one was allowed to remain. Not one. Even those whose families had lived in the region for centuries before the Arab invasion in the seventh century.
After Israel gained control of all of Jerusalem from the Jordan during the Six Day War, Israel passed a law that allows Jews whose families had been forced out of their homes by the Jordanians or the British to regain control of their family homes if they could provide proof of ownership and the current residents could not provide proof of a valid purchase or transfer of title. All of the homes that are the subject of these 2021 eviction proceedings, in addition to being on land purchased in 1875 by the Jewish community, were owned by Jewish families that had purchased those homes, and had deeds registered first with the Ottoman Empire (which governed the region from 1517 to 1917) and then with the British authorities (who controlled the area from 1917 to 1948).
Sanders said he was “delighted” President Biden is working with “the international community” to “rebuild Gaza” after Israel’s latest round of airstrikes against Hamas’ rockets and launchers.
Sanders has repeatedly blamed Jews for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On May 11, he blamed “right-wing extremists” for Hamas’ initial attacks on Israel, per a report from The Daily Wire.
“I am extremely concerned by the growing conflict in Israel and Palestine. Once again we are seeing how the irresponsible actions of government-allied right-wing extremists in Jerusalem can escalate quickly into devastating war,” he tweeted.