Advertising a nightmare

Far from being a “dream,” for thousands of Palestinians new settlements constitute a real-life nightmare.

By SABRI SAIDAM
February 13, 2013 21:54
4 minute read.
Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank

Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

For some weeks, The Jerusalem Post has been running an advertisement under the title “A Dream Come True,” promoting two Israeli settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. Beit Orot and Ma’alot David are two illegal colonies established in the heart of highly populated Palestinian areas.

Far from being a “dream,” for thousands of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, such settlements constitute a real-life nightmare.

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The “neighborhoods,” as they are described in the advert, are internationally recognized as illegal settlements.

There are over 200 Israeli settlements or colonies throughout the recently-admitted and internationally- recognized “the occupied” State of Palestine. These so-called “neighborhoods” qualify in accordance with international law, to be categorized as a war crime.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have become settlers on occupied land by accepting incentives to move into illegal buildings and compounds like the ones advertised in this newspaper. As the window of opportunity for the twostate solution continues to close and Israel’s occupation continues to oppress the Palestinians within their own country on a daily basis, advertising settlements in occupied land is morally reprehensible, to say the very least.

THE SETTLEMENTS of Ma’alot David and Beit Orot are part of a ring of settlements aimed at isolating the Old City from the rest of occupied east Jerusalem. This ring, which goes from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan, is mainly the effort of extremist settler organizations, backed by Israeli governmental organizations and the so-called Israeli “Jerusalem Municipality.”

The “success” of Israel’s colonial enterprise has led to a further displacement of Palestinians from their capital city. This forced displacement is not “collateral damage,” as Israeli occupation authorities often claim, but part of the plan to displace Palestinians and replace them with Israeli settlers.

To achieve this plan, a set of discriminatory laws has been developed, leading to thousands of ID revocations, evictions and home demolitions. Israeli laws and policies divide thousands of families and deny millions of Palestinian Christians and Muslims entry to occupied east Jerusalem. Regular scenes of people being physically forced to leave their homes, some seeing their family houses torn down, others stripped of their right to live in their own home city altogether, all contribute to the dark reality of the Holy City.

In Hebron, the Jordan Valley and the areas between the 1967 border and the Israeli annexation wall, we see similar situations, with thousands of Palestinians being forced from their homes and land for the benefit of Israeli settlement activities.

This process of forced displacement has been largely documented by international organizations including the UN, the EU, several Civil Society organizations and even by some Israeli organizations.

The recent UN Fact-Finding commission on settlements makes the situation patently clear in alignment with the will of the international community. Instead of promoting settlements, Israel should be withdrawing to the 1967 border.

Instead of fighting for every inch of the Holy Land, Israel should be going the extra mile toward achieving peace with its historic neighbors.

Instead of turning its back on UN resolutions and international law, Israel should acknowledge a policy of “live and let live.”

Instead of easily dismissing all attempts to make Israel realize the gravity of its illegal behaviors, Israelis should understand the reality of what such “neighborhoods” are doing for the future of Palestinians and Israelis alike. It is the responsibility of Israeli public opinion makers to assume, once and for all, the responsibilities that any member of the international community has according to international law and UN resolutions.

Not a single country, other than Israel, recognizes the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in Palestine.

Moreover, The Jerusalem Post should not be contributing to the promotion of Israeli settlements.

Regardless of whether this advertisement was paid or not, it is unethical to promote colonies in other people’s land. What is most worrying is that the mere fact that The Jerusalem Post agreed to place the advert reflects how normalized the presence of Israeli settlements currently is for Israeli society.

THE OVERARCHING policy of Israeli colonization, of which settlements are at the heart, is the main obstacle to peace.To normalize their presence does not help the cause of peace but the cause of occupation and colonization. Advertising illegal settlements like Ma’alot David and Beit Orot not only misleads the audience, but contributes to the acceptance of what, under international law, is a war crime.

It is hoped that one day soon, advertisements like this will be replaced by those calling for a just and lasting peace. A real “dream come true” would be for the internationally recognized rights of everyone to be achieved, and for Palestine and Israel to live side by side, with east and west Jerusalem as the internationally recognized capitals of Palestine and Israel: an open and shared city and the capital of two states. Far from being a dream, the alternative, and current reality, is a nightmare called apartheid.

The author is an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


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