It works, doesn’t it? My title grabbed your attention.
Every couple of months I see an article in international news that goes something like this: “UN condemns demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel” or “Israel demolishes more homes in occupied West Bank.” Journalists for major international news sources love titles like these because they stir emotions without ever mentioning the reasons for Israel’s actions. By leaving out the intent for tearing down these homes, the articles infer that Israel is a heartless state that is slowly destroying Palestinian homes one-by-one until finally all the Palestinians disappear, which is the furthest thing from the truth.
To begin, I find it hilarious that something as trivial as Israel’s decision to tear down a home is worthy of making international news. It’s common for cities, counties, and states in America to demolish homes that don’t have building permits, meet code standards, or are completely unsuitable for living. In fact, when old buildings fall into disrepair and slowly become a safety hazard for the community, we applaud our politicians and city officials for tearing down these dilapidated structures.
Currently, the city of Detroit has its sights set on demolishing more than 78,000 uninhabitable buildings; yet I’ve found no journalists spinning the news about the displaced homeless that will have nowhere to live or protesters who are standing on top of dilapidated homes urging the wrecking crew to halt. However, the State of Israel demolishes a Palestinian home because it didn’t have a building permit from the city and now the whole world is informed and upset.
Israel’s decision to tear down Palestinian homes did not happen because the homeowners were Palestinian, but because of the zoning laws, status of the building, or lack of a building permit. In fact, the Jewish community living in West Jerusalem deal with the same laws the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have to face.
The numbers of demolitions in East Jerusalem are higher by percentage than West Jerusalem, which makes it look biased, but there is a reason for that. Most illegal building infractions in West Jerusalem are additions made to an already existing structure, like closing in a balcony to make more room. The majority of illegal building in East Jerusalem is entire housing structures that can hold 4 to 25 living units according to Justus Reid Weiner’s Illegal Construction in Jerusalem.
So next time you see an article that says, “Israel demolishes more Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem”––remember, it’s not because they are Palestinian and it’s not because Israel is trying to “Judaize” East Jerusalem. It’s because the citizens (Palestinian and Israeli) built their homes illegally.