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Eviction (part 6 of 6) by Diana Lipton: It’s Mine

In the sixth and final chapter in her series on family evictions in light of Torah teaching, Sha'alu Sh'lom Yerushalayim member Diana Lipton begins our campaign to protect the Sumarin family from unjust eviction from their home in Silwan. Over the course of the next month, leading up to their court case on June 30, Sha'alu activists will join many other Jewish organizations struggling to protect the Sumarin family.


Eviction (part 6 of 6) by Diana Lipton: It’s Mine


In the 1980s, a few dozen properties were taken from Palestinian families under a scheme between settler organizations, governmental bodies, and a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL). In 1989, without consulting or informing the family, the JNF-KKL subsidiary initiated a procedure that resulted in the home of one of those families, the Sumarin family of Silwan, being designated as absentee property. At that point, the property was purchased by the Jerusalem Development Authority, who later sold it to the JNF-KKL subsidiary. In 1991, the JNF-KKL subsidiary filed an eviction suit against the Sumarins. The lawsuit was dismissed, and in 1992, the original scheme was stopped by a special investigative committee. But the confiscated properties were not returned to their Palestinian owners; each family faced a protracted legal battle to avoid eviction. For the Sumarins, this dispute has been going on for almost 30 years. In September 2019, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court accepted a renewed eviction claim, with the outcome that the Sumarins were required to leave the house within 3 months and pay tens of thousands of shekels in legal fees and other expenses. They appealed, and their case returns to court on 30th June 2020. This is an attempt at an extremely simplified summary of the Sumarins’ situation. You can read a detailed account of the history here.    


In the first of the two parshiot, Be-har (Lev 25:1-26:2) and Be-Hukkotai (Lev 26:3-27:34), we read this coming Shabbat, God makes an extraordinary statement: ‘The land is mine’ (Lev 25:23). The backdrop for his unprecedented claim is not, as we might have expected, the conquest of the land, but the laws of buying and selling property.


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