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The comfort factor

I’m sitting here on my patio, taking in the cool night air, listening to Kate Bush, thinking of my trip to India in a few days. There, across the valley, in Na’alin, a family is grieving the death of their child, killed yesterday by live ammunition. His family had tried to keep him home, away from the daily demonstrations. Had he lived, he could have been proud that, even as a child, he resisted the stealing of his village’s lands by the occupying power. But he didn’t live, and I cannot be proud that I sit idle, while foolish children, with all their lives ahead of them, face the bullets of slightly older kids, in a game mapped out by adults.

Meanwhile, my email brings me the following story: "This month Adalah submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court (SCt.) on behalf of a Palestinian Arab family from Nazareth whose land was confiscated by the state in 1958 for a "public purpose". After many years of not using the land for a public purpose, it was put up for sale on the free market and offered to the highest bidder by Miftavim, Ltd., which received the land from the state after the confiscation. The petition demanded that the SCt. cancel the confiscation and return the land to the original Arab landowners who are citizens of the state. The petition relied on past precedent of the SCt. according to which lands were returned to their Jewish owners if there was no longer any public purpose for the confiscation or if a lengthy time had passed and the lands were not used for this reason. Despite prior precedent, the SCt. denied the Arab family’s request to freeze the bid for the sale of the land. As a result, the land was sold for NIS 183 million (US $53 million) which was received by Miftavim, Ltd. This case starkly illustrates how the state deprives Palestinian citizens of Israel of their land. The Israeli legal community treats issues of land confiscation as belonging to the past, to the era of the state’s establishment, and one which no longer affects Arab citizens. The SCt.’s decision proves that the land confiscation issue still exists and that the legal system concerning land is divided into two systems: one for Arab citizens and one for Jewish citizens. Undoubtedly, the legal meaning of confiscation for "public purpose" is not to benefit all the public but to deprive Arab owners of their land."

It’s a matter of perception. Most Jewish Israelis - whether new army recruits or supreme court judges - are incapable of seeing injustice to Palestinians. It isn’t their fault. It’s just the way their brains have been wired. I too have my wiring. There are many things I do not see or have become inured to. But I have been speaking of injustices that I see, but nevertheless do nothing. Why? It’s so easy to find reasons to do nothing, so hard to find reasons to struggle, for as long as it’s comfortable not to do so.