By Natalia Marques

March 14, 2024  Peoples Dispatch

 

Real estate events are taking place to auction off Palestinian land to aspiring settlers. Pro-Palestine activists have called protests in response.

“The Great Real Estate Event” has been touring the United States and Canada, exhibiting property for sale on stolen Palestinian land. Each event has been met with mass protests by Palestine solidarity activists, sometimes leading to clashes with Zionist attendees and protesters.

The events have been organized by the real estate company My Home in Israel, and sponsored by real estate firms such as the Emanuel Group, International Marketing and Promotion (IMP), and JewishPress. Events have been organized in the Canadian cities of Montreal and Toronto, and in the US in Teaneck, New Jersey, Lawrence, New York, and Brooklyn, New York.

The event website offers attendees the opportunity to “own a piece of the Holy Land!”

My Home is Israel is designing the process of illegal Israeli settlement to be as simple as possible. On the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page, it claims that a foreign resident (anyone not a tax resident of Israel) “can carry out a real estate transaction in Israel, from start to finish, even without coming to Israel.”

These showcases of illegal settlement properties are not uncommon in US Jewish communities, but due to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the issue of Palestine has received increased scrutiny in North America. The Palestine solidarity movement sprung into action, protesting outside of all five events across the US and Canada. The final event, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, scheduled for March 13, was in fact canceled in response to a large scheduled protest and after the four prior events were met with nonstop demonstrations. Each of these events was held at a Synagogue, which made any protests uniquely susceptible to accusations of anti-semitism. Grant Miner, a Jewish graduate student at Columbia, spoke at a protest in Brooklyn, which relocated to another location after the real estate event in Flatbush was canceled. Hundreds gathered in Grand Army Plaza, 30 minutes north of the original event location, to celebrate the victory of shutting down the event.

Miner spoke about what he viewed as “a particularly insidious part” of the event, which was its location in a synagogue. “As people of conscience, we would be opposed to this, no matter where it took place,” he said. “But why did they put it in a synagogue? It’s because they want to be able to cry anti-semitism when we as a multi-national movement of people, which includes Jews like myself… come together to confront this illegal act.”

Indeed, as stated by the Palestinian Youth Movement, “At the event, Israeli real estate companies were planning to sell real estate in illegal settlements such as Neve Daniel, Efrat, Ma’ale Adumim… Most of these properties will only be made available for sale to Jewish buyers, in a racist violation of both domestic and international law.”

 

Pro-Palestine activists protesting the real estate event in the Long Island village of Cedarhurst on Tuesday March 12, were met with a crowd of hundreds of racist counter-protesters.

 

Witness video captures Zionist counter protesters shouting a confusing medley of slogans at the Palestine solidarity demonstrators—chanting “Palestine doesn’t exist!” while also telling activists to “go back to Palestine!” One Zionist counter protester was dressed in IDF uniform, waving an IDF flag out of a moving car, making rude gestures at demonstrators. According to witness reports, counter protesters also displayed symbols of racism and violence against Black people, with one individual having tied a noose attached to a Black doll around his neck.

Like in Brooklyn, some members of the Jewish community also took part in the Pro-Palestine protest of the real estate event. A rabbi from famously pro-Palestine Jewish group Neturei Karta spoke to the crowd on the Palestine solidarity side outside of the real estate event, “Those selling the stolen properties, those purchasing the stolen properties, are thieves,” said the rabbi. “Internationally, the world recognizes that the settlements are stolen property.”

Pointing across the street at the Zionist counter protesters, the rabbi directly addressed them, “Now you are fighting not Palestine, you… are fighting the entire world with no exception.”

Rachel Hu, an activist with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, who lives in Long Island, spoke to Peoples Dispatch about her experience protesting the real estate event. Hu recounted hearing homophobic slurs, seeing trucks carrying “Make America Great Again” flags, and witnessing a car attempt to drive into pro-Palestine protesters.

Speaking on the power of having members of the Jewish community visibly on the pro-Palestinian side within a Zionist stronghold in Long Island, Hu said “I saw a bunch of young teenagers that were Jewish come over and start talking to [Neturei Karta], and you could just see the wheels turning in their brain, of something they didn’t expect.”

“I think they were really surprised by the way that all the different kinds of people that were there,” Hu said. “We had people literally of all backgrounds like attending. And I think that really did surprise some of them, at least some of the young people. They came over and they were talking to the rabbi and you could just see their worldview changing.”

“We’re not here to protest the synagogue. We’re not here to tell you to be cowed, or be afraid by the tactics of the Zionists. They were definitely trying to intimidate us on every front, but we are a coalition of people that truly represent people all around the world that stand with Palestine.”