Who are the Terrorists? The search for justice in Jerusalem

“. . . from a purely mathematical point-of-view, if we consider the 2,464 years up to 1948 anti-israel[when the modern state of Israel was founded] for which there is conclusive evidence, Jewish occupation counts for 651 years (ending 1,813 years previously), Christians maybe 400 years, leaving the remaining, and most recent 1,313 years to the Muslims. And if you wanted to award a prize for the religion that accorded most tolerance to others, Muslims would win it without a contest.”

If you have time, you can check out the piece I wrote back in 2014.

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Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

 

I’m passing on in full this piece from Al Jazeera. It seems the United States is hell-bent on starting World War III (or IV, or whatever we’re up to now):

“US President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel on Wednesday and began the process moving his country’s embassy to the city. The move sparked global condemnation from world leaders. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem, however, is not recognised by the international community, including the United States.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

International community position 

shrinking palestineUnder the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was granted special status and was meant to be placed under international sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem’s religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.

In the 1948 war, following the UN’s recommendation to divide Palestine, Zionist forces took control of the western half of the city and declared the territory part of its state.

During the 1967 war, Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control at the time, and proceeded to effectively annex it by extending Israeli law, bringing it directly under its jurisdiction, in breach of international law.

In 1980, Israel passed the “Jerusalem Law”, stating that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, thereby formalising its annexation of East Jerusalem.

In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 478 in 1980, declaring the law “null and void”.

The international community, including the US, officially regards East Jerusalem as occupied territory. Additionally, no country in the world recognises any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the exception of Russia, which announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year. As of now, all embassies are based in Tel Aviv.

However, on Wednesday, December 6, US President Donald Trump is expected to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct the state department to begin the lengthy process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, according to senior White House officials. 

The illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem violates several principles under international law, which outlines that an occupying power does not have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

Palestinians in Jerusalem

west-double-standard-on-mocking-jews-muslimsDespite Israel’s de-facto annexation of East Jerusalem, Palestinians who live there were not granted Israeli citizenship.

Today, some 420,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have “permanent residency” ID cards. They also carry temporary Jordanian passports without a national identification number. This means that they are not full Jordanian citizens – they need a work permit to work in Jordan and do not have access to governmental services and benefits such as reduced education fees.

Palestinian Jerusalemites are essentially stateless, stuck in legal limbo – they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine. Israel treats Palestinians in East Jerusalem as foreign immigrants who live there as a favour granted to them by the state and not by right, despite having been born there. They are required to fulfil a certain set of requirements to maintain their residency status and live in constant fear of having their residency revoked. Any Palestinian who has lived outside the boundaries of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there.

Those who cannot prove that the “centre of their life” is in Jerusalem and that they have lived there continuously, lose their right to live in their city of birth. They must submit dozens of documents including title deeds, rent contracts and salary slips. Obtaining citizenship from another country also leads to the revocation of their status. In the meantime, any Jew around the world enjoys the right to live in Israel and to obtain Israeli citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return.  Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of 14,000 Palestinians, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. 

Settlements

Israel’s settlement project in East Jerusalem, which is aimed at the consolidation of Israel’s control over the city, is also considered illegal under international law. The UN has affirmed in several resolutions that the settlement project is in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying country from transferring its population into the areas it occupies.

 

protesters in london

Protesters in London

There are several reasons behind this: to ensure that the occupation is temporary and to prevent the occupying state from establishing a long-term presence through military rule; to protect the occupied civilians from the theft of resources; to prevent apartheid and changes in the demographic makeup of the territory. Yet, since 1967, Israel has built more than a dozen housing complexes for Jewish Israelis, known as settlements, some in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

About 200,000 Israeli citizens live in East Jerusalem under army and police protection, with the largest single settlement complex housing 44,000 Israelis. Such fortified settlements, often scattered between Palestinians’ homes, infringe on the freedom of movement, privacy and security of Palestinians.  

 

Though Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital, the realities for those who live there cannot be more different. While Palestinians live under apartheid-like conditions, Israelis enjoy a sense of normality, guaranteed for them by their state. 

‘The War I Experienced’ – A Palestinian teenager’s vivid memory

My university classes are quite cosmopolitan these days. The Ottoman Empire was characterized by ethnic and religious diversity, but its successor, the modern Republic of Turkey became, at least ostensibly, more homogeneous. In recent years, however, migrants, students and refugees from Middle Eastern neighbours and some African countries have been altering the ethnic mix. My classes include young people from Libya, Jordan, Malta, Syria and Iran.

One young man, Yaser, a recent arrival from Palestine, wrote this short piece when asked to share a vivid memory. I want to share it with you:

palestine-rubble_1‘It was about two years ago. I was living in Gaza when the war came. I was 15 years old and the war started with twenty killings by the Israeli ‘terrorist’ army. I was very angry about that and afraid at the same time – not for myself but for my family and the people I love.  

‘The war lasted three months. One day I was watching a movie with my family to forget the war a little bit. While we were watching the movie outside in the garden, Israeli planes bombed the house of a family near ours. They fired rockets. I remember the sound of it, it was so loud! I couldn’t hear anything else at that time. I ran to help my mom and my little brothers go into the house. There were rocks flying and people crying for their children. There was a lot of dust and flames reaching up to the sky; smoke and the smell of burning people. It was really a terrifying day.  

‘We lived our lives like we would die tomorrow. One day we will free Palestine. I feel so angry about the things that happened in my country. They killed peaceful people, children and old people – and the Israelis say we are the terrorists! Can someone be a terrorist in his own country?  

‘When the war ended after three months there were 2,500 killed by Israel’s army, and more than 10,000 injured.’

palestinian-loss-of-land-1946-2010

The Desperation Driving Young Palestinians to Violence

When an article like this can be published in Time Magazine, maybe the message is starting to get through. What’s the biggest stumbling block to achieving peace in the Middle East?

Explosion from an Israeli rocket strike in Gaza

Explosion from an Israeli rocket strike in Gaza

Last December, 22-year-old Baha Allyan posted a list on Facebook of things to be done after his death. Number one on that list: “I ask that the political parties do not claim responsibility for my attack. My death was for my nation and not for you.”

On Tuesday, Allyan, a graphic designer from the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood Jabel Mukaber, was killed by Israeli security forces after allegedly trying to carry out an attack in Jerusalem.

In a sandwich shop in Jabel Mukaber, men watch footage of clashes on Palestinian television. Youth throw rocks, and Israeli soldiers respond with a barrage of tear gas. “No one is encouraging these youth,” says Hamdan Hadid, a 20-year-old Palestinian who works in the shop. “They are encouraging themselves.”

Mourning Palestinans in Gaza carry the body of a 5 year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike

Mourning Palestinians in Gaza carry the body of a 5 year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike

For Palestinians in Jabel Mukaber, life was tough even before the latest restrictions. Towering blocks of Israeli settlements line the roads into the neighborhood. The Palestinians here pay taxes like Israelis residents, but comparatively few services. The streets are filled with potholes and Palestinian residents are restricted from building new homes or expanding existing ones, even as Israeli settlements rise around them. Frustrations are simply boiling over.

For young Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank this anger and resentment has no political outlet. They are part of what has been called the Oslo Generation—those raised on the promise of peace and an independent Palestinian state laid out in the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. Instead, two decades later, they have hundreds of thousands of new Israeli settlers on some of the territory promised to them in the Accords, territory that remains under Israeli military control.

“It’s a joke,” says Ismail Shkrat, 23, standing outside his family’s lamp shop. From here he can see the edge of an Israeli settlement a few hundred feet away and the separation wall in the distance that slices through Jerusalem neighborhoods. On the road in front, a line of Palestinian vehicles wait to pass the Israeli checkpoint.

Read the whole article