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Occupier’s justice: heads and tails you lose

on 17 Comments

Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think.

In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let’s call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let’s call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family’s private land in an effort to force them off.

This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family for generations other than by appealing to the Israeli legal system. They petition the Israeli Supreme Court to order the synagogue demolished.

In the court room, the settlers argue that the land is not under Kiryat Arba’s control – it’s private Palestinian property – and therefore it is outside the court’s jurisdiction. The judges have no right to issue a ruling in this case, they claim.

The court disagrees and says the land is under Kiryat Arba’s control – ie the judges treat it as part of Israel – and therefore the court can issue a ruling. The judges’ verdict is a triumph for justice: the synagogue should be demolished.

However, now that the settlers have a piece of paper with the court’s decision stating that the land belongs to Kiryat Arba, they can bill the Palestinian family for years of arrears on property taxes amounting to $22,000 – more than the family earns in several years. If they don’t pay, the settlers will seize the land and sell it.

Heads the Jaabaris lose; tails they lose too. That’s Israeli occupiers’ justice.

What do you think? Have I gone a bit too far? Too crazy to be credible.

Or have I simply plagiarised this story from the Times of Israel, where exactly this just happened to the Jaabari family.

This post first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s Nazareth blog yesterday


About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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17 Responses

  1. just
    January 24, 2015, 12:18 pm


    And the US is silent. Why?

    • ziusudra
      January 25, 2015, 5:59 am

      Simply brillant!
      Psycho linguistic at its finest.
      Enter G. Orwell.
      PS Does the Israeli Judicial System allow illegal occupying settlers to sue for back taxes of Falesteeni? Brave New World of Elliot, and ah, how green is my valley! M. Begin is tiptoeing thru de daisies marveling on how mature & progressive his heinous settlers have become:
      You come to Zionistan with a head full of mush & if you you’re luckly & survive, you’ll leave thinking like a lawyer!

    • Giles
      January 25, 2015, 8:22 am

      Hell, the US is just like this. If you followed the sham trail of Tarek Mehanna you would know this. And the judge who presided over that travesty, O’Toole, is doing the Boston bomber trial as well. He is there to make sure there is a conviction no matter what the evidence to guarantee that the FBI role with the Tsarnaev brothers is never mentioned. The Boston Globe has already published a puff piece about what a fair and tough judge O’Toole is.

    • Thomas Comeau
      January 26, 2015, 1:50 pm

      Answer that one omg and you’ll solve the entire mystery of the Middle east conflict.

  2. pabelmont
    January 24, 2015, 12:21 pm

    Beautiful story of infernal “justice”. Tell the world! Tell the nations which say, but do not enforce, that occupier does not own the occupied land.

    BTW, did the court say just exactly when the private land came to be within Israeli (Hebronish) jurisdiction and — more important — subject to taxes? For how many years do they seek to collect taxes? Etc. Had it previously been subject to Palestinian taxes, no taxes?

    All in all, yuck. I’m feeling a nasty feeling coming over me, what with this and the indictment of Sheldon Silver in NYC, and having trouble remembering that that nasty feeling is (as to Israel) properly called anti-Zionism and as to Sheldon Silver is horror at ordinary political corruption, New York style.

    But what about antisemitism? How many horrors done by Jews does it take ( to screw up acceptance of Jews) before the people of the world can/should/will be overcome with an antisemitism PARALLEL TO the Islamophobia that seems to be triggered by very, very few bad Islamic actors.

  3. Whizdom
    January 24, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Kiryat Arba. Deep in the West Bank. Visit Kahane park, named after a famous terrorist, and across the Street from the much visited grave of Baruch Goldstein, responsible for a terror attack that killed 29 and wounded 124 Palestinians.

  4. oldgeezer
    January 24, 2015, 1:28 pm

    Israel, the most succesful criminal enterprise currently on the planet.

  5. Pixel
    January 24, 2015, 3:32 pm

    Thank-you, Jonathan.

    I hate your title; I love your title.

    • Abu Malia
      January 27, 2015, 1:23 pm

      the Title should have been “tails you lose, heads i win”.

      Anyway, every time i hear/read the words “Israeli legal system”, I’m reminded of a story that purportedly took place sometime in mid 80s (after independence) in a meeting between an ANC (south African) activist and Robert Mugabwe and his cabinet (Zimbabwe). The ANC activist was there to ask for help on some particular matter pertaining to their struggle against apartheid. It went as follows:

      ANC activits: Our leadership needs your help in bringing this matter up at the UN general assembly next month. It is critical that we not allow the apartheid regime to move forward with this – we cannot stress the importance of this matter to our struggle.

      Robert Mugabwe: Very well, we understand – that is why i instructed my interior minister last week to contact the South African minister of justice to lodge our complaint and ask for clarification – we are waiting on his response.

      ANC activist: Good thank you for taking action, can we get some input from the commander of your navy?

      Mugabwe: looking around the table with a bewildered look on his face – Sir we don’t have a navy, we are landlocked.

      ANC activist: And yet, you insist we have a “justice minister” in apartheid S. Africa!

  6. Sulphurdunn
    January 24, 2015, 7:26 pm

    Everything is nice and legal and unjust. Then again, it doesn’t appear as though justice ever was the desired outcome. Imagine that.

  7. Pretext
    January 25, 2015, 12:11 am

    For what it’s worth, the traditional idiom is “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

  8. jd65
    January 25, 2015, 2:24 pm

    Thank you Mr. Cook. This reminds me of another twisted “legal” scenario in Palestine: Israel’s “present absentee.” I first learned of this term in your book Disappearing Palestine. Anyone here who doesn’t have it should get it. Cook does an excellent job of unpacking the nearly (and intentionally so) unexplainable institutional and legal processes Israel uses to dispossess the Palestinians. He’s also personable. When I had a question about his book (Israel’s ongoing self-declared “state of emergency” since its inception), he responded to me quite quickly and kindly. Thanks again Mr. Cook. And though it seems you’ve put up the hypothetical of writing this as a short story only to boost the insanity of its reality, it actually would be good source material for a fictionalized version one act…

  9. Bornajoo
    January 25, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Thank you Jonathan Cook.
    I have to once again borrow Anne’s phrase here “you can’t make this stuff up”.
    The occupation is everything and everywhere; physically mentally and judicially.

  10. Annie Robbins
    January 25, 2015, 3:56 pm

    p.s. i thought this might be of interest to folks. when looking for a good graphic for this article i googled Mr Abdul Karim Al Jaabari’s name and sure enough was able to locate this photo from 2011. i embedded the link in the photo description above. there’s some extra background text there with another photo of Jaabari.

    Over the years his two wells have been destroyed, olive trees cut, windows smashed, children beaten and he is prevented from walking on his own land. The purpose of this violence is to force the family to leave, as the land has a strategic value. If taken by the settlers it would provide a route between the two settlements and create another bloc of land within Palestinian territory, further restricting Palestinian access and movement. The settlers, protected by the army, erected a tent on this land and established it as a synagogue.

    The Israeli Supreme Court found the land to be legitimately owned by Abdul Karim, and the synagogue tent to be illegal. Yet despite this, the Israeli Army still prevent Abdul Karim from accessing his land and although the tent was once removed by police, it was erected by the settlers the following day.

    more at the link (highlighted in photo description)

  11. HarryLaw
    January 26, 2015, 1:00 pm

    This case is just a symptom of a much bigger malaise, one that can only be solved by a court applying International law, first by declaring all the settlements illegal and then indicting the individuals responsible. Although Abbas has signed up to membership of the ICC, I suspect Abbas will hold off any actual complaints. So, perverse as these Israeli decisions are, ultimately the Palestinian leadership are also partly responsible.

  12. eljay
    January 26, 2015, 1:15 pm

    The hatefulness and immorality of Jewish supremacism never ceases to be astounding and thoroughly depressing.

    My heart goes out to the Jaabari family and to all victims of Zio-supremacism.

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