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Law Clashing with Morality - The Case of Sheikh Sayyakh
By Amos Gvirtz
31 Dec 2018
Anyone who does not allow their national affiliation blind their moral judgment should oppose the prison sentence and fine imposed on Sheikh Sayyakh Al-Touri. This is a typical case of the law clashing with morality and justice, turning law enforcement into a crime!
Here are the main facts: in 1905 Sheikh Sayyakh’s grandfather purchased land in the Al Arakib area, from one of the Al Uqbi tribesmen, and the Al Touris settled it. In 1914 they began to bury their dead in a small section of the said plot of land. In 1952 the Israeli military governor of the area came to the Sheikh of the time and said that the Israeli army is about to have maneuvers there and the tribesmen must leave. He promised that after half a year, at the end of these maneuvers, they would be able to return. When they wished to do so, the Sheikh of the time was told they must pay for leasing the land. Naturally the tribesmen refused to pay lease for their own land. In 1953 the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the Land Purchase Law that, among other things, stipulated that lands not used in the period of time specified by the law would become state land. Thus, by Israel’s military force and legislation, the state claimed the lands inherited by the tribe members and headed by the Sheikh. The state representatives and Sheikh Sayyakh dispute the use of this land after the tribe was evicted. The state claims that Sheikh Sayyakh and his men re-built their village Al Arakib in the early 2000s, while Sheikh Sayyakh argues that he and his tribesmen have used this land and were present on it throughout the years. In 2010 the Israeli government agents demolished Al Arakib for the first time. Since then, after every demolition the inhabitants put up some shacks which the government agents repeatedly demolish. While these lines are being written, 137 demolitions have already taken place.
If I invade another man’s land and take it by force, that man would turn to the police for help to prevent such robbery. The police would come and arrest me and put me on trial for robbing his land. Judges would examine the case and rule according to the dictates of morality, justice and the law, and impose a suitable punishment. Not so when the robber is the state itself and the robbed – a member of the unwanted minority. The state has the power to pass laws that sanction its own robberies, something a citizen like me cannot do – and then, if the robbed is an unwanted citizen, all state institutions are mobilized against him: the Knesset passes laws that further whitewash robbery; the government executes them; the police is sent to enforce such laws against unwanted citizens; the court rules accordingly and sets outrageous precedents against the unwanted citizens; the prison service will “host” the “criminal” who has refused to accept the robbery of his land and the demolitions of his village. And yes, Sheikh Sayyakh has begun serving his sentence in prison, ten months, on December 25, 2018.
The laws of the Israeli state stipulate that Sheikh Sayyakh’s refusal to accept these acts makes him a criminal deserving a prison sentence and a fine. The state has a police force that enables it to carry out the robbery and punish the victim. The state has no force against morality and justice. These do not budge. Any person, whose national affiliation does not blind his moral judgment, should oppose the state’s crime.
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