Monday, May 21, 2012

No Ease in Zion

THE Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv is no leftie liberal organ, but those Zionist propagandists who monitor the media for any sign of what they call "bias", protesting any piece of news reporting which depicts the Israeli state in an other than favourable light might have missed this front-page headline.

It says, in Hebrew, "Settlers fire on Palestinians, IDF soldiers look on from sideline".

The incident to which it refers was captured on video by the civil rights group B'Tselem, and they managed to get some coverage in Western media this time.

It was also reported by reported by correspondent Haggai Matar in the online +972 news mag:

A 24 year-old Palestinian was hit in the head from a live round of bullets Saturday in the village of Asira al-Qibliya. B’Tselem footage of the event shows the settlers shooting at the young man, and Israeli soldiers standing by them – doing nothing to prevent it.

According to B’Tselem, the incident started at around 16:30 Saturday, when a group of settlers descended from the extremist settlement Itzhar towards the Palestinian village (as seen in the first video below). According to eye witnesses the settlers – some of them masked and some armed – started fires in the fields near the village and threw stones at Palestinians who moved towards them, who also started throwing stones at the settlers.

On Sunday, right-wing Israelis marched through Muslim areas of east Jerusalem, waving flags, to mark Jerusalem Day, commemorating the "unification" of the city, that is the conquest of Arab east Jerusalem by Israeli forces in the 1967 war.

Police had told Arab shopkeepers to close for the day to avoid trouble, and security forces were out to deal with any protests. Even the left-liberal Zionist party Meretz was ordered to take down a banner which might give offence to the flag-waving marchers.

As +972 describes it:
Jerusalem Day is meant to be a celebration of the city’s ‘reunification’ following Israel’s victory in the 1967 war. In practice, it is a day for Israeli nationalists, draped in flags, dancing in circles, singing and chanting (including the popular Israeli nationalist chant, ‘death to Arabs’) as they march through the streets of East Jerusalem and the Old City. Many of the Jewish demonstrators are bused in from right-wing yeshivas in Israel and the West Bank.

Here supporters of the Israeli occupation, even those who claim to favour a "two state solution" (from which Jerusalem and its environs are exempt), often hold up their hands in horror at suggestions of Palestinian rights to East Jerusalem, saying "you cannot want to divide the city again?"
Meanwhile Palestinian residents suffer neglect and ethnic cleansing, and more than three quarters live below the poverty line.

The peace group Gush Shalom, which called supporters to join a Palestinian protest by Jerusalem's Damascus Gate, said:

A lie does not become a truth, even if repeated forty-five times. Jerusalem is a not a united city, and has never been a united city in the forty-five years since 1967. East Jerusalem is a Palestinian area under occupation rule. Just so is it treated by the governmental and municipal authorities of the State of Israel, and by the settlers who are dispossessing the Palestinian inhabitants, with the funding and backing of these authorities - as recently happened again in the Beit Hanina Neighborhood.

"Jerusalem Day" is not a holiday to Israel's citizens or to residents of Jerusalem. It is a holiday only for the young settlers, who are given by the Jerusalem Police a free hand to hold a provocative "Flag Dance" throughout East Jerusalem – even though in previous years this "dance" developed into an ongoing chain of racist harassment and violence against Palestinian inhabitants.

It is time to end the lie and erase this ugly stain from the calendar of the State of Israel. The real Jerusalem Day will be the day when the occupation ends and Jerusalem becomes the capital of two states - West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. Only then can Jerusalem truly be a united city, by the free will of all its inhabitants - Israelis and Palestinians alike.

There was one bright moment during Sunday’s Jerusalem Day events, as reported byLisa Goldman. A young Palestinian boy, perhaps about 10 years old, was holding his Palestinian flag when it was snatched from him by an Israeli orthodox settler. The boy tried to rescue his flag, and was struggling with the man when an armed officer of the Israeli Border Police approached.

The boy ran off down the street pursued by the officer, then stumbled and fell. He might have been captured, but as he scrambled back on to his feet, a 22-year old Israeli activist Sahar Vardi from Jerusalem, brilliantly and bravely blocked the officer.

Her intervention and the whole incident was captured in a brilliant series of photographs by Haim Schwarczenberg, and film also appeared on You Tube. It brought the usual stream of hate and threats of violence from right-wing Zionists, some of whom also want to break the cameras and/or the legs of what they call "leftist photographers". But we must not be rude and describe those making such threats as fascists.

There will come a time when Jerusalem is the shared capital of two peoples living in peace as equals. When it does Israelis, and Jewish people in general, will look back in gratitude that our honour was saved by the likes of Sahar Vardi.


Oh, and I almost forgot. Veolia, the French-owned utilities company is involved in the transport system linking Jerusalem with illegal settements, which provided "Happy Jerusalem Day" balloons. But that is not political, you understand?

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At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Sue Katz said...

Thanks for this Charlie. I so appreciate your deconstruction of the fantasy of "reunification." Another good piece.


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