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Israeli real estate events selling stolen Palestinian land met with protests and disruption 

Photo: Long Island, New York protests The Great Israeli Real Estate Event. Credit: Liberation Photo

As its genocide of the Palestinian people rages on in Gaza, Israel has continued its policy of settler colonial expansion in the West Bank through the illegal confiscation, sale, and occupation of Palestinian land. In fact, an Israeli real estate entity has been making a push to sell illegally confiscated Palestinian land to Americans and Canadians in an effort to expand its settlements in the Occupied Territories. A real estate tour dubbed “The Great Israeli Real Estate Event” planned several such events across Canada and the Northeast United States and controversially promoted the sale of Palestinian land in the illegally occupied West Bank. The tour began on March 2, and included in-person sale events planned throughout Montreal, Toronto, Teaneck, New Jersey, Cedarhurst, New York, and Brooklyn, New York. 

The website for the event series advertised lectures and discussion topics such as apartment and building availability, legal advice, financial advice, and other pertinent information for those wishing to participate in the illegal sale of Palestinian land. The website’s listed sponsors include “International Marketing & Promotion,” “Emanuel Group,” “Your Home in Israel,” and “Jewish Press,” among others.

In a Feb. 22 interview on Arutz Sheva Israel National News, Gidon Katz, an initiator and producer of the Great Israeli Real Estate Event, revealed that organizers had originally planned the sales events for mid-October of 2023 before being pushed back. He noted in the interview that now is “a good opportunity to buy from a practical point of view” and urged viewers to “take the opportunity” before prices go up. He also emphasized the presence and importance of “Anglo communities” across the region. This is the textbook definition of settler colonialism: stealing land from the Indigenous population and selling it off to others abroad to settle there. It also emphasizes the use of racism as a tool of empire, with references to the safety of “Anglo communities” implying that other communities — namely ones made up of Indigenous Palestinians — are dangerous or undesirable. 

Zionist land sales violate international law

These land sales are an insidious arm of Israel’s occupation and violate a number of laws and international conventions.  

At the domestic level, they violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which prohibits housing discrimination based on national origin, religion, ethnicity, gender, and other protected categories of identity. These sales events were not widely available to the general public and were only circulated in spaces and to people in support of the Zionist settler project. Palestinians, the rightful owners of the land that these real estate tours are selling, have no voice in the process and are even barred from purchasing their own land back.

The sales event and Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land also flout international calls to dismantle the settlements dating as far back as 1980 when UN Security Resolution 465 called on Israel “to dismantle the existing settlements and, in particular, to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.” 

Additionally, International humanitarian law dictates that Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” It also prohibits the “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have reaffirmed the settlements as a violation of IHL on multiple occasions, most recently by UN Security Council Resolution 2334, passed in December 2016. 

In fact, the entire existence of settlers in the Occupied Territories is a violation of IHL. According to Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory” constitutes a war crime “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.” 

In addition to this, under the Hague Regulations of 1907, “the public property of the occupied population (such as lands, forests and agricultural estates) is subject to the laws of usufruct.” The Hague Relations also prohibit the confiscation of private property. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, this means that Israel “has a duty to ensure the protection, security, and welfare of the people living under occupation and to guarantee that they can live as normal a life as possible, in accordance with their own laws, culture, and traditions.” 

Zionist real estate events not welcome in U.S. cities

It is evident that public consciousness is shifting more and more in favor of the Palestinian people, with many connecting the history of settler colonialism in Palestine to similar histories of theft of Indigenous lands throughout the United States and Canada. Since Oct. 7, a formidable mass movement has grown in defense of Palestine against Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies, and this movement has not allowed these Zionist real estate events to take hold in their cities.

When the Great Israeli Real Estate Event passed through Teaneck, New Jersey on March 10, it was met with a protest of hundreds of pro-Palestine activists. Similarly, Long Island activists organized their own demonstration when the Zionist convention passed through Cedarhurst, New York on March 12. These events have also been met with protests in Canada.

And in Brooklyn, New York, the in-person real estate event planned for March 13 was canceled after pressure and backlash from pro-Palestine organizers. When protesters learned that the event would be pivoting to Zoom that night, they flooded and continually disrupted the online webinar, forcing the event planners to end the virtual meeting.

The protests and disruptions of these Zionist real estate tours, along with the large-scale mass mobilizations we’ve seen since Oct. 7, indicate that the people will be waiting and ready to disrupt, shut down, and rally for the liberation of Palestinian land and the Palestinian people.

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