Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tyranny begins in Migron

Why the inconsistency? Doesn’t the rule of law apply equally to Jews and to Arabs? Apparently not.

Michael Freund..
30 August '12..

On Tuesday, a fateful hearing took place at the Supreme Court to determine the destiny of the Jewish community of Migron.

The complicated history of the site, and the legal wrangling surrounding it over the past six years, have left many people wondering where right begins and wrong ends. But regardless of one’s political views, there is something about the case that should send a shudder down the spine of every Israeli who values liberty.

Standing before the justices, Osnat Mandel of the State Attorney’s Office said that Migron in its entirety should be evacuated within a few days. Mandel made no distinction between the land that was recently purchased by Migron’s residents, on which 17 families live, and the rest of the community’s territory, where 33 other families reside and the ownership is in dispute.

In other words, the state is willfully choosing to ignore the legal purchase of land by its citizens and is prepared to expel them from their homes. Needless to say, this is nothing less than an outrage.

The state is trampling upon one of the fundamental underpinnings of any Western-style democracy: private property rights.

The land in question was purchased in a legal transaction from its Palestinian owners at a reported cost of $1 million. Migron’s residents presented documents to support their claim and even videotaped the acquisition as proof that it had been carried out. This development undermines the basis for the expulsion order against the 17 families in question, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped Mandel from insisting that they be removed anyway.

What is particularly frightening about this stance is that if the government is allowed to brazenly ignore the private ownership of land in Migron, what is to stop it from doing the same in other places?

INDEED, WHAT happens today in Migron could very well happen tomorrow in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Beersheba.

Simply put: this is an act of tyranny, one of unconstrained governmental power that threatens us all. Except for rare cases involving eminent domain or an imminent threat to national security, there is no justification for such a rash and high-handed exercise of bureaucratic bullying.

A deal is a deal, and if the Migron residents bought the land from its Palestinian owners, they cannot and must not be forced from their homes.

Opponents of Migron assert that the land purchase in question is fictitious and that the families should leave. If that is the case, then let the police investigate the transaction in the coming weeks, and the matter can be revisited one way or the other. But there is no reason at this stage to put 17 families along with their children through the trauma of eviction, particularly when it appears that they are fully within their right to remain.

Remember: Migron was established with the active encouragement and funding of the government of Israel. Many of the structures on the site were paid for by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, and Migron’s residents had every reason to believe that their presence throughout the years was above-board and legitimate.

Whatever becomes of the rest of Migron, the parcels of land that were purchased from the Palestinians deserve separate treatment – both morally and legally. How ironic, then, that the opponents of Migron righteously invoke the “rule of law” even as they seek to walk all over it.

Though the mainstream media loves to portray Migron as an “illegal outpost,” the real transgression here is the double-standard that is applied to Jewish and Arab building across Israel.

Just drive down to Eilat and you will see dozens of unauthorized and illegal homes that were erected by Beduin along the road. Or glance up at the hills of Judea and Samaria, where thousands of unlawful structures have been built by Palestinians.

OR TAKE a stroll through eastern Jerusalem, where Arabs build illegally with virtual impunity thanks to the apathy of the authorities. And yet, when it comes to cases involving Jewish construction, the government is all too ready to swoop in and pounce.

Why the inconsistency? Doesn’t the rule of law apply equally to Jews and to Arabs? Apparently not.

This situation is simply intolerable and the time has come for it to change. Jews, like anyone else, have the right to purchase land and build on it, even if it upsets the extremists of Peace Now. Property rights must be upheld, and the Jews of Judea and Samaria are no less deserving in this regard. So don’t be fooled by the pompous pronouncements of our politicians or the mischievous misrepresentations in the media.

The real threat to the Jewish state does not come from a small band of pioneers in Migron bravely trying to reclaim our ancestral homeland. It comes, instead, from a government that is willing to subvert our property rights and freedom.

The road to tyranny begins in Migron. Our responsibility is to ensure that is where it ends.


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