Activists call for cancellation of Midwood event promoting sale of Palestinian land in the West Bank

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The outside of Khal Bnei Avrohom Yaakov Simcha Hall in Midwood, where a controversial Israeli real estate exposition is set to take place on Friday, March 15.
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An Israeli real estate exposition due to take place on Friday at a Midwood synagogue has drawn scorn from local activists who are calling on elected officials to intervene and cancel the event advertising the sale of properties on occupied Palestinian land.

The Great Israeli Real Estate Event, being held at Khal Bnei Avrohom Yaakov Simcha Hall, is advertised as the opportunity to “own a piece of the holy land,” listing properties in Israel as well as three Israelis settlements in the West Bank: Efrat; Neve Daniel; and Ma’ale Adumim. These settlements are widely deemed illegal under international law. 

Community group NY-09 Neighbors for Palestine launched a petition Friday, March 8, calling on 9th Congressional District Congress Member Yvette Clark, local Council Member Farah Louis and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to step in and cancel the event organized by real estate company My Home in Israel. They are also asking that Attorney General Letitia James investigate potential violations of state or federal law stemming from the event.

“The planned event for March 13th is illegal, wrong, and harmful to our community,” the petition, which has close to 3,000 signatures, reads. “No to land theft: not in our borough, not in our neighborhood, not in our city.”

“The occupation oppresses the people of Palestine,” said Faiza Azam, a member of the group organizing the open letter. “As an NY-9 resident, I feel outraged and betrayed that this event is happening in my district, and at Yvette Clarke’s ongoing refusal to take a stand against settler colonial violence.”

A part of the expo’s North American tour, The Great Israeli Real Estate Event previously made stops in Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and Teaneck in New Jersey — with each event drawing protests from pro-Palestine demonstrators. The expo, which also stopped in Lawrence on Long Island on Tuesday, gives potential investors the opportunity to meet with Israeli real estate agents.  

West Bank in crisis 

On Friday, United Nations Human Rights Chief Volker Türk warned that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are accelerating at a drastic rate, which amounts to a war crime under international law. He noted in a report to the Human Rights Council that about 24,300 housing units within existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank were advanced over the period from 1 Nov. 2022 to 31 Oct. 2023 — the highest on record since UN monitoring began in 2017.

The establishment and continuing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements are occurring alongside the displacement of Palestinians through Israeli settler and state violence, according to Türk, as well as through forced evictions, non-issuance of building permits, home demolitions and movement restrictions for Palestinians.

“The West Bank is already in crisis,” Türk said. “Yet, settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State.”

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, the displacement of Palestinians from their land has only increased the intensity, severity and regularity of Israeli settler and state violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the UN found.

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Thousands of people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of a ceasefire in Gaza on Oct. 26.File photo by Erica Price

Last month, the Biden Administration deemed Israel’s plans to build more homes on settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as illegal and “inconsistent with international law” — reversing the pro-Israel determination made during the Trump administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a February press conference that new settlements are counter-productive to reaching an enduring peace in the region.

The NY-09 neighbors petitioning to cancel the upcoming Midwood event said the sale of properties on Palestinian land, particularly in Ma’ale Adumim, are “immoral” given Ma’ale Adumim’s location cuts off Palestinian freedom of movement between the northern and southern halves of the West Bank. The territory has previously been described as the “the settlement that broke the two-state solution.”

Representative for My Home In Israel, Reynoso, Louis, Clarke and James did not respond to requests for comment by publication.