On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In it, the global body sought to ensure that all people had basic human rights as laid out in the preamble:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”
Such rights afforded to all people included the right to own property as enumerated in Article 17:
“(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”
With such understanding, it is worth delving into the rights of Jews and Arabs to own property in the holy land.
Jews Owning Property in the Holy Land
Even before the UDHR was codified, international law encouraged Jews to live and settle throughout Palestine, which at the time included areas which today are commonly called, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan. The Mandate of Palestine of 1922 stated clearly the mission to “secure the establishment of the Jewish national home,” and encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” Further, the law laid out that “[n]o discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”
International law stated that everyone – Jew, Arab and all others – could live throughout the land, but it was specifically Jews who were encouraged to settle the land and establish a national home throughout the entirety of the Palestine Mandate. Article 25 of the Mandate did allow the British to separate off the area east of the Jordan River (now known as Jordan), but it still forbade such entity from banning people from living and owning property because of their religion.
But that’s precisely what happened.
On September 23, 1922, the British separated that area into “Transjordan” and soon recognized a new government there. That government believed that Jews had no rights to own land. When Jordan invaded Israel in 1948 and took over the area now known as the “West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem, it evicted every Jew. When Jordan passed a nationality law in 1954, it specifically forbade the Jews from eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank from getting citizenship. The Jordanians also passed a law that made it a capital offense for any Arab to sell land to a Jew. The Palestinian Authority has proudly inherited and maintained that policy today.
And the world seemed to endorse this Jew-free formula.
Even beyond the dozens of Muslim states which refused to recognize the basic existence of Israel, in 2014, former US President Barack Obama chastised Jews for legally buying homes in the predominantly Arab section of eastern Jerusalem stating that the “US condemns the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions.” The inherent dignity of Jews to own property was viewed as secondary to the demands of the antisemitic Arab neighbors.
For Muslims nations, progressives and much of the world, the inalienable human right to own property did not cover Jews, and in their homeland, no less.
Arabs With Rights to Ancestors’ Homes
In stark contrast to Jews who uniquely have been determined as not worthy of basic human rights and dignity, the United Nations extended the property rights for Palestinian Arabs that do not exist for any other group of people.
On November 22, 1974 the UN General Assembly passed A/RES/3236 (XXIX) which granted Palestinian Arabs the rights to not just own property but the “inalienable right” to go actually “return” to homes and property where ancestors lived generations ago.
“2. Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return;”
The concept was and remains without precedent. Do Americans have the right to return to homes in other continents where great grandparents lived 100 years ago? Even more outrageous, most of the local Arabs in Palestine did not own the house or land; it was mostly owned by wealthy people from other areas including Turkey and Syria. That is why the UNRWA definition of a “refugee” simply states that it is for “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine,” not that they OWNED any property. Even more, the Palestinian “refugees” which concern the UN simply lived in Palestine between 1946 and 1948, with most having moved to the area from neighboring Arab lands in the preceding years.
Not surprisingly, the UN branded “Zionism is a form of racism,” and “a threat to world peace” just a year later as it pushed resolutions to eliminate Jewish rights and dignity while advancing those of the Arabs in their midst.
Jews have been uniquely stripped of their “inalienable rights” to purchase and own homes in the Jewish homeland, while Palestinian Arabs have been uniquely granted “inalienable rights” to move to houses and villages which no longer exist in a foreign country because ancestors once lived and worked there, even if they were just renting for a couple of years.
With the absurdity of such biased declarations, why should Israel pay any heed to the rantings of the rabidly antisemitic and biased body?
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