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NYT Misrepresents Sheikh Jarrah's Forced Expulsion

Tracy Davenport Tracy Davenport
8th May 2021
NYT Misrepresents Sheikh Jarrah's Forced Expulsion
Families face a risk of forced eviction by settlers (Screenshot).

The Claim

New York Times reported six Arab families from a contested neighborhood has drawn attention to the Israeli effort to remove Palestinians from parts of East Jerusalem and led to protests.

Emerging story

On May 7, 2021, the New York Times published a story about a neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah are being evicted. New York Times alleged that six Arab families from a contested neighborhood have drawn attention to Israelis to remove them. The Times headline was then viewed by some as biased or even incorrect.

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar discovered the article and headline under dispute are about Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem where eight Palestinian refugee families reside. According to a statement in the article by one of the residents in the neighborhood: “They don’t want Arabs here, or across East Jerusalem.” According to resident Abdelfatah Skafi: “They want to expel the Arabs, and that way they will be able to surround the Old City,” the contested ancient core of Jerusalem that contains sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

According to the Times, Jewish settlers and right-wing Israeli activists are also taking a stand there. They say that the Palestinian residents are squatters and that the district built beside the tomb of a Jewish high priest from antiquity was Jewish until 1948. 

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According to United Nations Human Rights, the eight Palestinian refugee families residing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem face a risk of forced eviction due to a legal challenge by the Nahalat Shimon settler organization. According to the United Nations, “East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies.” This means the occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. This means that Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, to evict Palestinians from their homes.

The United Nations goes on to write: “Forced evictions may also violate the rights to adequate housing and to privacy and other human rights of those who are evicted. Forced evictions are a key factor in creating a coercive environment that may lead to forcible transfer, which is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave breach of the Convention.” 

Therefore, some are finding the headlines and the way the story was presented as biased or inaccurate: 

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The legal definition of eviction is “the dispossession of a tenant of leased property by force or especially by legal process,” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. In this case, the effort to remove the Palestinian families is an eviction. However, calling Sheikh Jarrah a contested neighborhood is misleading. Removing the Palestinians from their homes is also prohibited by International Humanitarian Law and would be in opposition, making it a crime. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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