Right plans east J'lem counter-protest

"We won’t be deterred from residing in any part of Jerusalem," organizers say.

January 29, 2010 04:20
3 minute read.
Palestinian and Israeli activists protest in Sheik

sheikh jarrah protest 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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For the first time since left-wing activists began staging weekly protests against house evictions in the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, a contingent of right-wing activists has announced plans to hold a counter-protest during this week’s Friday demonstration.

“Tomorrow, Friday, a protest rally will be held against the leftist and Arab demonstration in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood,” read a message sent out on Thursday to a Facebook group called “Supporters of the Residents of Shimon Hatzadik.”

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The Facebook group, which was created by Yehonatan Yosef – grandson of the Shas party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – has nearly 2,000 members, and is very much the online presence of the Jews who have moved into Sheikh Jarrah homes, along with their supporters.

“Together we’ll show that we won’t be deterred from praying or residing in any part of Jerusalem, and that the continued harassment of the [Jewish] residents there and prayer-goers [at the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik in Sheikh Jarrah] will only bring a throng of thousands of more Jews there,” the message continued.

“Together we [will] prove to the world that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.”

Right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir are also expected to participate in the rally, which will likely see a showdown – verbal or otherwise – with the hundreds of left-wing activists who have begun flocking to the neighborhood every Friday over recent months.

While the activists have complained that police resort to strong-arm tactics to silence their protests, the police have responded that the rallies often block roads and even endanger the Jews who are living in the neighborhood.

While the left-wing activists reject those claims, they were emboldened on Thursday, when a Jerusalem Magistrate Court judge ruled that such protests were legal, as long as the demonstrators remained on the sidewalk and didn’t block the road.

Nonetheless, police had not issued a permit for Friday’s protest on Thursday evening, and organizers told The Jerusalem Post that they were planning on holding the rally next to the nearby American Colony Hotel, instead of inside Sheikh Jarrah, which has been the location of the weekly rally in the past.

“From what we understand, the police are planning on carrying out arrests again,” one of the organizers, Maya, told the Post on Thursday. “Additionally, the right-wing [activists] will likely try and provoke us to violence, although we are a completely non-violent demonstration and we will not oblige them.”

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the Post on Thursday that the police had decided to allow the protesters to go ahead with their demonstration, although any disruptions or violations of the law, he said, would not be tolerated.

“We are going to allow the demonstration to take place,” Rosenfeld said. “But what we won’t allow, in any way, shape or form, is disturbing the peace or breaking the law.”

Last week’s rally saw some 20 protesters arrested, although left-wing activists have vowed to continue the demonstrations until “the settlers leave Sheikh Jarrah.”

The protests began in August, following the evictions of the Gahwi and Hanoun families from homes they had been living in for over 50 years.

Those evictions were carried out after lengthy court battles, which resulted in rulings favoring Jewish claimants to the homes. Ongoing, similar legal battles have raised the possibility of further evictions, which have drawn international condemnation in the past.

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