Last week, after more than a decade in court with appeals and counter appeals, an Israeli court finally ruled that an old man who had proven that he owned some property, had the right to evict Arabs who had squatted on his property, denying him access and failing to pay rent.
Finally, the man was clear to reclaim what the courts carefully had determined was his. The man went with several others to hand out eviction notices. The Arabs seemed to have been expecting them and began pelting them with rocks. In an attempt to defend themselves after two had been hit by rocks (one in the head and one in the chest), one 63-year-old man pulled out a gun and shot in the air.
As is often the case when an Israeli fires into the air, several Arabs complained to the police that they had been injured. One man insisted he had been shot in the hand and showed the police a scratch. Had the man been hit, explained the Israeli who shot in the air, the man would have lost his hand because of the nature of the bullets he had in his gun.
No, there were no injuries among the Arabs and the police quickly released the Jews that had been taken into custody based on Arab charges and complaints.
What is amazing, however, is how Israeli media covered the news report. I have heard the story directly from someone who was there, one of seven, the wife of the man who fired into the air. She explained to me that it was only when the Arabs started advancing towards her and throwing rocks at her, that her husband raised his gun.
This is Israel - we must defend ourselves. This is, as the man later told the police, our country and if someone throws stones at you when you have broken no law (unlike the people illegally living in the old man's house), you have the right to self-defense.
Yes, this is Israel, but sadly, so is the other side. I have doubts whether anyone from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) spoke to any of the Jews involved in the incident - it certainly doesn't seem so from the ridiculous headlines they used:
"Jews arrested in brawl over home ownership."
A brawl? Doesn't that give the hint of guilt on both sides? Jews with the backing of the Israeli courts went to issue eviction notices to illegal residents and were attacked with stones. This is a brawl? One wonders whether it is perhaps time to buy JTA a dictionary.
The absurd title is only one inaccuracy. Of course, no one was injured among the Arabs; no one was shot in the hand or elsewhere. According to the witness I spoke to, the police watched the video she had taken and quickly agreed that the claims were false and that there was no way any Arabs were shot by this man's bullets.
Also, telling, however, is the file name (URL address) of the JTA article. While they decided to be a bit more diplomatic in the headlines, the assumption of guilt was there in the file name: "http://jta.org/news/article/2009/11/01/1008854/right-wing-jewish-activists-detained-after-brawl-with-arabs-in-jerusalem."