Diaa Hadid Pokes a “Hornet’s Nest”

CAMERA recently criticized a New York Times article by Diaa Hadid, “Evictions in Walled Old City Stir Up a ‘Hornet’s Nest’,” about evictions of Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Old City, noting that the article was marred by several serious errors. First, Hadid framed the attack by five Arab armies and several Palestinian militias against Israel in 1948 as a war “surrounding” Israel’s founding, rather than an illegal attempted genocide. Hadid was also entirely wrong about Israel’s compensation laws, falsely claiming that the amount of compensation was minimal, based only on the 1949 value of the property that was lost, and in any event hard to file for. But compensation is not minimal, is not based only on the 1949 value, and is not hard to file for.
Additionally, several crucial facts surrounding what the article hailed as “the most famous example” of an attempted eviction were just plain wrong, including Hadid’s claim that this eviction and the others were based on “arcane violations” of lease agreements. Well, unless you define failure to pay rent as “arcane.”
In the last few days, CAMERA was able to track down the court documents of the two other cases mentioned in the article. Let’s start with the case of Ms. Maswadi, which Hadid’s article describes in great detail:
Nazira Maswadi’s new landlord is trying to kick her out based on a claim that her estranged husband, Tawfiq, the original lessee, is dead. “He’s not dead,” she insisted. “He has 10 children with me. If he died, they would have to bury him.”
Mr. Maswadi, reached by phone on Wednesday, confirmed he is alive, but acknowledged he now lives mostly with his third wife in the Shuafat refugee camp, which itself could threaten his family’s occupancy of the Old City apartment.

However, when we examined the action filed by the “new landlord” – an Israeli trust – it is clear that their main claim against Ms. Maswadi, contrary to the Times’ version, is that she has not produced documents showing her right to live in the apartment and, more importantly, has not paid rent – even after she was asked to do so by the trust. To repeat, is not paying rent now deemed by the New York Times to be an “arcane violation” of a lease?

The question of whether Mr. Maswadi was alive or not came up only in passing as a commentary on a letter that the trust received from Mr. Maswadi’s lawyer and was not a reason cited for her to be evicted.

The second example of an eviction mentioned in the Times article was of Ms. Maswadi’s neighbor:

Nawal Hashimeh, 63, swept her little corner of a courtyard that she shared with her neighbors, a blanket strung across it to maintain a modicum of privacy. She said she faced eviction because she had replaced the rusting front door.

However, similar to the case of Ms. Maswadi, the trust is actually trying to evict Ms. Hashimeh because she has not been paying rent for many years. While Ms. Hashimeh’s son has attempted to pay a small part of what the trust believes is owed, the trust has refused to accept the payment until her son makes it clear that he is doing so in Ms. Hashimeh’s name and not as a legitimate tenant himself. The replacement of the door and other major renovations to the apartment, without the trust’s permission, are also cited as other violations of the lease agreement.

In neither case have the tenants (yet) filed their responses to the trust’s suit.

The bottom line is that in all the cases mentioned in the article, the New York Times misled their readers over the real legal issues involved, and appear to have blindly repeated the tenant’s claims without even attempting to examine the relevant legal documents.
Will the Times forthrightly admit its mistakes and correct the record?

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