In a remarkable twist of fate, a Jewish professor at Princeton University has expressed her anguish knowing that two Palestinian families facing eviction in occupied East Jerusalem may have saved her Jewish family from ruin.
Professor of anthropology Julia Elyachar recollects the close bond between her grandfather and the Palestinian family about to be evicted from their homes. When Elyachar’s great-grandfather Raphael, who lived in Jerusalem, died, her grandfather was 13. Raphael had two business partners, recalls the professor writing in the Forward – a community Jewish newspaper in the US. “One partner, who was a European Jew, took advantage of the bereft widow, and stole our family’s livelihood. The other partner an Arab and fellow Jerusalemite, saved my Jewish family from ruin, helped however he could, and treated my grandfather like a son.”
Elyachar recalls that the Palestinian partner came from an illustrious Muslim family in Jerusalem, the Dajanis, also known by the honorific Daoudi, given to them by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1529. “Now”, says Elyachar anguishing over the twist of fate “families with those two names — Dajani and Daoudi — are facing eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem”.
Contrasting between the fate of the Dajanis and Daoudis and the kindness shown to her great-grandfather is “devastating”, says Elyachar. “As a Jew in whose name an increasingly extremist Israeli government purports to speak, it’s my duty — and the duty of us all — to voice our objections to this step. It’s an unconscionable violation of the common humanity that binds us all,” she explains.
Offering details of the background to their plight, Elyachar adds that the Dajani and Daoudi families have until August to leave. But court rulings have mandated that seven other families, including the Al-Kurd family, which has been fighting eviction since settlers moved at gunpoint into part of their home in 2009, must vacate their homes by 2 May.
“On that date, 130 Palestinians belonging to those seven families will be evicted from their homes. Those homes will be handed over to settler organizations who claim ownership rights,” writes Elyachar. “No matter what coalition ends up taking control of the Israeli government, these evictions, and those scheduled for August, now seem almost inevitable.”