One cannot be an illegal occupier of his own land: Response Letter

Daniel Luria, Israel, Feb 22, 2024

Thank you for reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to send a response to this most lopsided factually incorrect article based on questionable legal opinions and obviously written by a person(s) with an extreme left wing agenda and lacking knowledge on International law, and Jewish Zionist history or heritage. It is the typical warped narrative of those trying to besmirch the State of Israel and treat the Jews as foreigners or illegal “settlers” on their own land. We are the Jewish People and we are the rightful “heirs” of the G-d given land of Israel and we have thank G-d, returned to our homeland after 2000 years of exile.

At the outset, it’s important to note that the Jewish people are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel and that any and every single Jew has the right to purchase and live in peaceful coexistence alongside with Christians and Muslims in any and every single neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Given the fact that the Jews have a 3800 years old bond with the Land of Israel, Jews cannot by definition be illegal settlers or foreigners on their own soil and land.

Anyone who says or writes that Jews have no rights to purchase property is effectively saying they believe in Judenrein areas (free of Jews) – shocking concepts from the dark past Nazi times in Europe.

These same people (probably like yourselves) seemingly have no problem with Muslim Arabs freely buying in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, so why should it be an issue for Jews around the world or from Israel to legally purchase properties in predominantly Muslim Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem?

The only shameful issue with such legal Jerusalem real estate deals, is the unethical, abhorrent and illegal Muslim Fatwas (Religious edicts) forbidding Muslim Arabs selling to Jews and those who do sell – are given the death penalty by Muslims. Even Muslim Arab middlemen can be tortured, given life imprisonment and cannot be buried in a Muslim cemetery.

Why isnt the so-called enlightened world screaming about this issue and calling for rights and equality? I smell hypocrisy, arrogance and typical double standards.

Secondly it’s important to note the historical fact – that there has never been an Arab Palestinian State recognized by the world in the area between the “River and the Sea”.

As an interesting proof of this fact – in the years between 1948 and 1967, when Israel did not, as yet, return home or have control of the Golan, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria ) or of Gaza, there was never even an attempt to establish a Palestinian State. The areas were known as Egypt (Gaza), Judea and Samaria and the Old City and its environs (Jordan) and Syria (Golan).

Today or post 1967 after Israel won the war – it’s all legally the State of Israel.

And the other important historical fact that the author failed to inform his readers – was that Palestine was officially and legally recognized by the League of Nations (Pre UN) at San Remo in 1921-22 as the Jewish National Homeland.

Yes Palestine is or was Israel- the Jewish National Home.

At the time and before deals were made with the Hashemites (Husseini family) to create Jordan, the Jewish National Homeland (Palestine) was actually all of Israel plus all of today’s state of Jordan. After the establishment of Jordan – and the taking away of 2/3rds of the Jewish National Homeland (aka Palestine) was only from the “River to the Sea” !!!

There are actually various legal opinions as to the current status of the land known as Judea and Samaria (West Bank of Jordan River), but at best these areas are “disputed territories” due to the fact that no Israeli Government has yet annexed the areas to be part of Israel proper.

Jerusalem of course is a different story as it was never officially recognized as Jordan and after the Six day War -it came under the rule of the Israeli Government. The Old City and its environs were annexed and returned to the rightful heirs of the land and today Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel. There are 215,000 Jews living as full citizens and residents (Not illegal settlers) in the eastern neighbourhoods of Jerusalem intermingled with 290,000 Muslim Arabs. It’s called basic peaceful coexistence. There are also over 400,000 Jews living in the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The Jewish neighbourhoods built by the Israeli Government in the eastern area of Jerusalem, are all legal according to some international law experts and they were built on State land, annexed by Israel after the Six Day War – yet another war whereby the Arab Muslim nations tried to wipe out the Jewish State and drive us into the sea.

Ateret Cohanim Israel is a non profit organization involved with strengthening Jewish roots in and around the Old City. The activities center around educational institutes. Ateret Cohanim Israel sometimes facilitates acquisitions, on behalf of Jews in Israel and abroad who wish to help revitalize Jewish life in the heart of Jerusalem. Ateret Cohanim Israel itself does not purchase any properties as claimed by the author. When Arab Muslims want to sell their properties, they approach the organization to sell their homes. These legal real estate deals are like those made in any democratic society and country, and that are simply facilitated by Ateret Cohanim Israel.

Any use of the term “getting rid” of Arabs or “displacing Arabs” is simply painting a false picture, perpetuating a lie and pure demagoguery.

In fact the historical truth that cannot be disputed is the harsh reality that Jews were in fact, driven from the Old City and from areas like Shiloach (Silwan) and Simon the Just (Sheich Jarrah) neighbourhoods, by marauding and violent Muslim Arabs extremists who acted like Hamas and Isis in the well documented pogroms of 1920, 1928-29, and the Arab riots of 1936-38. Plus Jews were also driven from these areas in 1948 and no Jews were permitted to even live in “Jordan” (Old City & environs) in the years from 1948 till 1967. I guess tolerance does not exist in certain societies.

Ateret Cohanim Israel legally facilitates the natural return of Jewish life and Jewish property to the Jewish people in these areas.

To be very clear and to correct the false impressions and statements of the article regarding the Jewish National Fund.

As the executive director and spokesperson for Ateret Cohanim- and not a representative of the JNF- I wish to be perfectly clear and succinct. JNF Australia does not raise any money for Ateret Cohanim Israel whatsoever and is not involved in any shape or form with any real estate deals in the heart of Jerusalem, associated with Ateret Cohanim.

In relation to JNF Australia and Jewish life in Jerusalem – it is my understanding that the JNF Australia sometimes helps with humanitarian, educational, tourist and childrens projects. The funds raised helps various struggling families/children/nurseries, the needy, immigrants, students and of course enhances their lives with Jewish activities, programs, education and tours that are focussed on Jerusalem, its history and the Temple Mount.

I believe that one of the ways that this is done is via a non profit organization called Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim. (Not Ateret Cohanim)

And to be clear, I have no official position whatsoever with this non profit organization.

The only “tenuous” connection of Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim to Ateret Cohanim is the fact that they both “work” within Jerusalem. I am however familiar with some of their activities and endeavours.

The author claimed that local Arabs deeply resent the Jewish residents (author cleverly uses the word “settler” with a negative connotation).

Yes – some Muslim Arabs in Jerusalem (and beyond) sadly resent and in fact object to the mere existence of Jews and the Jewish State of Israel.

Anti Israel and hate filled Arab education in certain sectors of the Arab society, leads to incitement, more hatred, and ultimately to hostilities and violence by Muslim Arabs against Jews and Israel. This is the reality.

And yes – It is true that there are some extremist Muslim Arabs (This violent minority who also threaten moderate Arabs) who not only resent their Jewish neighbours but also act in a violent nature towards them by throwing molotov cocktails and barrages of rocks and stones over the years at Jewish buildings, vehicles and families. All these are recorded attacks with the Israeli Police, who have made arrests.

Most or at least some of the Muslim Arabs in Jerusalem are of a moderate nature, accepting the Jewish State of Israel and do not identify with these extremist Hamas supporting Muslim Arabs.

The author also claims that the residents in the eastern neighbourhoods of Jerusalem (Author uses the word “settler”) are protected by the Israeli military (IDF) who also occupy East Jerusalem. This is simply yet another false statement. The Israeli military (IDF) does not protect anyone in Jerusalem and they do not act in Jerusalem whatsoever. The security in Jerusalem is handled only by the Israeli Police, like in any city in Israel and NOT by the IDF – Israeli Military.

The Israel Police secure Jerusalem for all, and protect and keep the peace for ALL Jewish, Christian and Muslim Arab RESIDENTS of Jerusalem.

Yes -we are all residents of Jerusalem. (Although there are some illegal Arab squatters on old Jewish properties in the Holy Basin).

Another false and even ludicrous statement written in the article was about Vladimir Putin. The organization Ateret Cohanim was not involved in any dispute with Vladmir Putin or the Russian Government or the Russian Orthodox Church, as claimed by the author. It is simply false. And in either case- this has nothing whatsoever to do with either Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim or JNF Australia.

Overall, the article is misleading, full of falsities and twisting of the truth and of historical facts.

However – The biggest problem with the article is that it tries to make a disconnect between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people (as the only indigenous people of the land).

This is impossible – as we have an unbreakable bond of 3800 years with the land of Israel and we have the historical, natural, legal and ethical right to settle and live throughout all neighborhoods of Jerusalem (And Israel).

And let’s all remember : One cannot be an illegal occupier of his own land.


Daniel Luria is the Executive Director and International Spokesman for Ateret Cohanim.

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