“This is not Ariel Sharon’s supermarket”

So reads the banner above, placed just outside an old supermarket on Makdessi street in Hamra.

A handful of police officers stood across the street. Neighbors watching told me the tenant was being evicted after having been offered somewhere around $100,000 to vacate both the shop and an apartment in the building, which is either being renovated or torn down.

I passed by later this evening and a number of people were still inside.

One woman, who described herself as a relative of the shopkeeper, said she planned to sleep in between the aisles tonight along with other relatives. She said the shopkeeper–an older woman– had been running the Aintoury Market since 1960s. The fear is that the repossession team will gut the place at night after having already dragged the refrigerators out onto the street.

But this woman told me only $60,000 had been offered both to vacate the shop and the shopkeeper’s 130 square meter apartment. Obviously both properties in a prime Hamra location would be valued in the millions of dollars but the woman is an old renter, though she says she was promised a much higher settlement sum by the court. ($60,000 is barely enough to rent a parking space in today’s real estate market.)
“Do you think they are kicking us out because we are Christian,” she asked me in a hushed tone. I told her people are being evicted from the city no matter what their religion. She nodded and then gave an example of another Muslim woman being kicked out of her building down the block.
I asked why they had listed infamous Israeli general “Ariel Sharon” on the banner. “Ariel Sharon is the enemy isn’t he,” she said. “Are we the enemy too?”