Israel Palestine Infos
July 10, 2010
AT THIS moment, two
sit-ins are taking place in
The word that connects the two is: Hamas.
The Shalit family is
demanding the release of their son, Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, after four
years in captivity. For that purpose they have marched, under the beating sun,
The three Palestinian Members of Parliament are protesting against the order to leave the city, in which their forefathers have lived for centuries – perhaps for millennia. Their sin is that they were elected as Hamas candidates to the Palestinian parliament, in democratic elections whose fairness was certified by ex-President Jimmy Carter and his team.
East Jerusalem was indeed
formally “annexed” by
The four Jerusalemite
Members of Parliament from Hamas were arrested immediately after the capture of
Gilad Shalit, in order to serve as “negotiation chips” – a reprehensible
practice in itself. They were sentenced to four years in prison by a military
court. (It has been said that “a military court is to justice what a military
march is to music”.) A few weeks ago they were released, after serving their
full sentence, only to be informed that their residence status in
The four refused, of course. The best known among them, Muhammad Abu Ter (also written Abu Tir), was arrested again and is now in prison. The other three avoided arrest by taking refuge in the IRC building in the Sheikh Jarrah quarter. The building does not enjoy extra-territorial immunity, but its invasion by Israeli police could arouse a wave of international protests, and has been avoided, therefore, until now.
I DECIDED to visit both sit-in sites in order to express my solidarity with both protests.
First of all I visited the members of parliament in the Red Cross building. That was not our first meeting: four years ago I visited Muhammad Abu Ter at his home in the Tsur Baher neighborhood. We were joined by Ahmad Attoun, one of the three (the other two are Muhammad Totah and Khaled Abu Arafa.)
On that occasion, I was also a member of a Gush Shalom delegation. The conversation was friendly, but entirely political in character. Our aim was to explore the possibilities for an Israel-Hamas dialogue, as part of the effort for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Abu Ter, a friendly
person by nature, is well known in
We gained the clear impression that it is possible to talk with Hamas, and that their positions are far less extreme than they may seem.
Immediately after, all four were arrested. During their “trial” we demonstrated outside the military camp where it took place.
AT THIS week’s meeting with the three threatened with expulsion, I voiced the evident: that there is no legal or moral right to expel a person from his home and his town, especially not for his political opinions. East Jerusalem is occupied territory, and the expulsion of people from occupied territories is expressly prohibited by international law.
I could not help remembering the words of the German Martin Niemoeller. a World War I submarine captain who later became a priest and landed in a Nazi concentration camp. “When they took the Jews, I kept silent. After all, I was not a Jew. When they took the communists, I kept silent. After all, I was not a communist. When they took the social democrats, I kept silent. After all, I was not a social democrat. When they came for me, there was no one left to protest.”
“Now,” I said, “they
expel Hamas members. Then they will expel the Fatah people. Then they will expel
all the Arabs from
THE ATTEMPT to expel the
Hamas members from
A father loves his children. A teacher loves the pupils. A paedophile loves the objects of his lust. A cannibal loves them fried.
I am a Tel Avivian. It’s
my home. But
During the ten years I
served as a member of the Knesset, I spent half of each week in
Every time I came to
After the Six-day War, I
came to love
I got to know fascinating
people and made new friends – Feisal al-Husseini, Anwar Nusseibeh and his son,
Sari Nusseibeh, and many others. For some weeks, it seemed as if
And then the process started that destroyed everything – the city, its human fabric, the unique beauty of its manifoldness.
The seven veils of unity began to fall, one after another, and what remained was the ugly reality of occupation. The occupation of East Jerusalem by West Jerusalem, a story of annexation, oppression, expropriation, neglect and creeping ethnic cleansing.
The person who symbolizes this reality more than anyone else is Nir Barkat, the man who never misses an opportunity to provoke a quarrel, to start a fire, to demolish and expel. He reminds me of a pyromaniac who throws burning matches into a gas station.
How did such a person become mayor? The Jerusalemites voted for him for one sole reason: he is secular. Any secular candidate seemed to them preferable to an orthodox one. The orthodox are conquering the city, slowly but surely, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood. The secular public is afraid, rightly afraid. Out of fear, they voted for the only secular person on the stage – though this one is far more dangerous for the future of their city than the most frightening orthodox.
There was no secular, liberal, peace-loving candidate. The choice was only between an aggressive orthodox and an extreme nationalist. The voters (all of them Jews, the Arabs stayed away) did not understand in time that an extreme nationalist can easily embrace the extreme religious - after all, both have their roots in the cult of the “chosen people” and the hatred of strangers.
The ideology of Barkat pushes him forward, without inhibitions or brakes, until he succeeds in destroying the human fabric of the city, its cultural richness and beauty – see the monstrous buildings – and nothing is left but one monotonous hue, the Jewish-orthodox black.
Barkat is not the first
and not the only one who went out to Judaize
He was preceded by Teddy Kollek. But Kollek was a genius. He eradicated the Mugrabi quarter near the Western Wall, expropriated and built new Jewish neighborhoods at a frantic pace, and at the same time collected peace prizes all over the world. If he had lived on, he would surely have received the Nobel Peace Prize, too. Compared to him, Barkat is a primitive, transparent oaf who attracts world-wide loathing. Sheikh-Jarrah, Silwan, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze’ev – these names have become symbols everywhere.
The myth of “The City
That Is Compact Together” (Psalms 122) is being exploded every day. The city has
not come together. The two parts are united as a lion is united with the sheep
it has swallowed. Barkat is the mayor of West Jerusalem and the military
But they do not succeed.
Barkat & Co are experiencing with the Arabs what Pharaoh experienced with the
I told the members of
parliament that in the end, what will be realized will be the vision of two
states, because the only alternative is an apartheid state in which the Arabs
will be an oppressed majority and the Jews an oppressive minority – until the
whole edifice inevitably comes crashing down. Two states mean: two capitals in
In spite of Binyamin
Netanyahu, Nir Barkat and their colleagues, the destroyers of
(A shorter version of this article was published in the July 9 Jerusalem supplement of Ma’ariv.)