Fact Check : Palestinian Home Occupied By Brooklyn Couple?

Did Brooklyn Couple Steal Palestinian Couple’s Home?!

Did a couple from Brooklyn steal a home that was once owned by an elderly Palestinian couple?

Take a look at the photo that Michael Moore made viral, and find out what the FACTS really are!

 

Claim : Brooklyn Couple Stole This Palestinian Couple’s Home!

People keep sharing this photo as “evidence” that Americans / Israelis are stealing Palestinian homes, every time there is a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

It notably went super viral in May 2021, after Michael Moore posted it on his Facebook wall.

If someone took/stole your home right now, and moved you out because a theocracy ordered it — or what if this same theocracy bulldozed your home and tossed you out into a field and told you and your children to GTF outta here — what would YOUR response be?

What would you have the moral right to do about it? And to be perfectly clear, I don’t care if it was a Christian Fascist German soldier in 1941 forcibly removing you from your home, or an American bank in 2008 forcibly removing you and kicking you to the curb while taking your home — it’s gut-check time, folks (and yes, I mean you too, fellow pacifists):

What would you have the moral and human right and DUTY to do about it, to respond to it, to stop it? And would the rest of the world just stand by and let you suffer as it so often does?

When do we all just put a stop to this, to grind the gears of the machine to a complete halt and replace the plutocracy (we’re not a democracy), the theocracy (you’re not a democracy), and any racial, religious or corporate supremacy with TRUE democracy, FULL human rights, and love?

 

Truth : Brooklyn Couple Did NOT Steal This Palestinian Couple’s Home!

This is a rather iconic photo – a Palestinian couple looking at what used to be their ancestral home, now occupied by an Israeli couple.

We decided to investigate the photo, and here was what we found…

Fact #1 : The Photo Was Taken In Israel

This photo is genuine, and was taken in the village of Ijzim, about 30 minutes south of Haifa in Israel.

Just to be clear, Ijzim is not in the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip – territory under partial or full Palestinian control.

Fact #2 : The Photo Was Taken In 2020

Despite what people may say, this photo was not taken recently. It was taken and published in May 2020.

The last time the elderly Palestinian couple was in Ijzim was 72 years ago.

Fact #3 : Ijzim Was Depopulated In 1948

Israel captured Ijzim during the 1948 War, and the majority of the villagers fled or were expelled during the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe).

The Israelis quickly demolished the Arab houses to make way for permanent Jewish settlements.

Photo credit : Fred Csasznik – Front cover of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem by Benny Morris, Cambridge University Press 1989.

Fact #4 : Palestinians No Longer Own These Lands

While the Nakba can be argued as morally wrong, this is not an uncommon practice whenever a country annexes or conquers a region.

For example, the Soviet Union expelled Germans from East Prussia after World War 2, and gave the southern part to Poland, while Lithuania was given the northern part.

Today, East Prussia is part of Poland and Lithuania – both members of the European Union and NATO. Germans who were expelled between 1945 and 1949 can visit their ancestral homes, but they cannot claim ownership over those lands.

More directly – there is no evidence the elderly Palestinian couple have any paper to prove their prior ownership of the land on which their home used to be.

Fact #5 : The House Was Not Their Home

The house in the photo is not the same house that the elderly Palestinian couple used to live in.

That house, which belonged to the Palestinian man’s father, was demolished during the Nakba, and a new home was built on the land.

So it is factually wrong to say that the elderly Palestinian couple was looking at “the house they once lived in“. The house they were looking at is completely different from the house they once lived in.

That does not mean that the Palestinian couple has no right to feel hurt over their loss. It was, after all, where they once lived.

But whether they are entitled to that land that they abandoned more than 70 years ago is another question altogether.

Fact #6 : It Was Part Of An Al-Jazeera Project

For those who doubt the authenticity of the photo, I can confirm that it is genuine and was taken as part of an al-Jazeera project.

In May 2020, Najwan Simri of Al Jazeera took an elderly Palestinian couple to visit their original homes and to meet their current Israeli residents.

Here is the Al Jazeera video clip, as well as an English translation.

Some towns and cities inside the Green Line will become the hope of those in the diaspora. But they will also become a station of refuge for others.

Here lives a family uprooted from a nearby village. We had an appointment with Hajjeh Im Samir to accompany her there. Her [ailing] husband insisted on coming with us because he said the air of Ijzim is the best cure.

Despite its beauty, the road there seems desolate as if it gets you to the place but doesn’t take you there. Eagerly, Im Samir organizes our tour for us and tells us the names of the [Palestinian] owners of the houses.

Our first stop is God’s house. Its stones have been preserved as they were. Alone, the colors of its locked doors change each time the dryness of the seasons intensifies.

Here, Abu Samir does not stay in the car because this stop [station] is the location for which he has most longed in order to banish the other stations of his life. “This was our house, my father’s house. After the ‘48 wars, the Jews occupied it.”

After a few minutes, the residents of the house come out to [the gate]. They ask us what we want. We say, this is the owner of the house; how do you feel living in a house built on the wreckage of his house? [The answer] Frankly, I don’t feel anything. I am very happy. Living here is very enjoyable.

How strange is the distance between the owner of the house and he who is occupying it. How strange is the irony between he who has to stand inside the gate and he who must stand outside the gate. How strong Abu Samir is! For other uprooted people have refused to accompany us [on our tour]. One of them told us that he cannot bear to glimpse through the window of his father’s house a foreigner living there.

And that [glimpse] could possibly be of a strange symbol, like [what is glimpsed through the window] of a stolen [Palestinian] school converted into a temple with an emblem [the flag of Israel] that is not as old as the memory of the stones of the school.

And so, an extreme picture! It is said that the passage of time helps in forgetting, but, in the Palestinian case, it seems that the equation of time is different and that the years are merely a number. Rather, the longer the banishment of the Palestinians is, the more they remember.

– This is Najwan Simri, reporting from the depopulated village of Ijzim for Al Jazeera.

Fact #7 : No Evidence The Couple Was From Brooklyn

The most authoritative source was Al Jazeera, and even they did not identify the Israeli couple, much less confirmed that they were from Brooklyn, New York City.

Despite my extensive searching, I could find no source to back up this claim. None of the earlier posts using this picture – in May to June 2020 – even mentioned that the Israeli couple were from Brooklyn.

Therefore, it is highly likely that their Brooklyn origin is completely bogus, and was added much later.

Many detractors have pointed out that this is of no importance. If that is true, then I ask – why lie about this? Why claim, without evidence, that the couple was from Brooklyn?

IMHO, it must have been important for the people who added this “Brooklyn” connection to tie this “occupation” of Palestinian land to the Americans. Hence, the necessity to claim that the Jewish couple was from the United States.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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