Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem.
(photo credit: BRIAN HOLSCLAW/FLICKR)
Israel inaugurated a tunnel passage way under the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in the presence of the US Ambassador and Israeli annexation and settlement builder proponent David Friedman, who exalted the event, stating: “This is yet another example – and a great one – of the recognition of the Judeo-Christian values upon which both nations were founded.” As Peace Now wrote on their web site: “The tunnel was dug in one of the most politically sensitive areas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan is located next to the [sic] al-Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount compound and the Old City, where the remains of ancient Jerusalem are located.”
Did Friedman refer to the Judeo-Christian values of displacing Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem and replacing them with Jews? That is what Israel is now doing. In Silwan, a neighborhood of more than 20,000 Palestinians, the Elad settlers movement – a private political nongovernmental organization – was, for the first time in Israeli history, given a national park to administer and develop – the City of David – with millions of shekels granted by the government of Israel. Furthermore, the same political NGO was granted by the government management of a very important and politically sensitive archaeological dig under Silwan, avoiding and circumventing normal scientific procedures always undertaken by professional archaeologists.
Elad is using its power and money to exhaust and impoverish the Palestinian families with legal proceedings so that they will have to agree to sell them homes. Israel is planning to evacuate dozens of Palestinian families from Silwan and transfer their homes to Jewish settlers – who have nothing to do with the properties or history of the area for the last few hundred of years.
NEARBY IN Wadi Hummus, a neighborhood of Sur Baher, Israel has given residents of the village in the southeast of Jerusalem until July 18 to demolish 100 apartments. These apartments are officially in Area “A” of the West Bank, designated as being under full Palestinian Authority jurisdiction. Wadi Hummus has about 6,000 Palestinian residents, more than 500 of whom will shortly become homeless. Mr. Friedman: Please ask Mr. Trump to tell us if this, too, is in recognition of the Judeo-Christian values upon which both nations were founded.
Elsewhere in Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah: For over a decade, Jewish settler groups have been exploiting the lopsided legal situation to try and kick Palestinian families out of their homes in east Jerusalem. Now, with the backing of US President Donald Trump, Palestinians fear that Israel’s right-wing government and settler groups, Elad and Ateret Cohanim, now have the green light to resume their attempts to take over more homes.
In the Palestinian neighborhood of Isawiya, in northeast Jerusalem, Mohammad Obeid – one of its more than 10,000 residents – was shot and killed on June 27 at the age of 20 by Israeli security forces. The shooting occurred during protests against a park being planned to occupy land where some Palestinian homes are scheduled for demolition. Israel admitted to killing Obeid, but said the officers only fired at him after he threw fireworks at anti-riot personnel. After Israeli troops seized his body, they had tried to negotiate how he should be buried.
Since then, Palestinians have held protests and the Israel police has undertaken an operation that, according to Israeli journalist and Jerusalem expert Nir Hasson, “has included an influx of dozens of policemen; the erection of roadblocks; vehicles being systematically stopped when leaving the neighborhood; and the issuance of tickets for almost any reason. One person said he was ticketed for not removing the plastic wrapping on the seats of his new vehicle; another for having darkened windows in his car; a third was told his license plate wasn’t legible.” According to residents of Isawiya, life has become a daily hell at the hands of the Israeli police.
I would like to know if this too is “another example – and a great one – of the recognition of the Judeo-Christian values upon which both nations were founded.”
BACK IN Friedman’s real home, the US, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) – the largest Israel lobby group in the United States – is now holding a two-day “summit” in Washington, with high-profile speakers such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Many of the event’s attendees and featured guests will profess their abiding love and support for Israel and Jewish people, as well as for the united, undivided, eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. In my opinion, CUFI, Trump, Friedman and all of the other crowd of the proponents of the myth of united Jerusalem are working in direct opposition to “the Judeo-Christian values upon which both nations were founded.”
CUFI, Pence, Friedman, their Israeli allies and their more than five million followers believe that the establishment of Israel in 1948 – and its subsequent military occupation and colonization of the West Bank and east Jerusalem after 1967 – are the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. This is Trump’s holy base. The Christians members of this unholy alliance also believe that this occupation and the settlement activities aimed at unsettling the Palestinians are the necessary precursors to the return of Jesus Christ and the coming of the apocalypse.
This is what CUFI does. This is what Trump, Pence and Friedman do. They support Israel at all costs, without question or criticism, while ignoring the great injustices against Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories. These actions not only ignore the reality of Jerusalem, a city deeply divided, but they drive Israel further away from the chances of ever living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.
Palestinian Jerusalem is boiling over with anger and growing hatred. In spite of sledgehammer diplomacy, so-called legal measures in Israeli courts to displace Palestinians in Jerusalem from their homes, draconian policies of the Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli government against almost 40% of Jerusalem’s residents – the Palestinians of Jerusalem will not remove Jerusalem from their hearts and minds. These people will never agree to give up their Palestinian identity and to happily accept Israeli domination over their homes, their capital and their holy city and holy sites.
The residents of Jerusalem – Israelis and Palestinians – have both determined the real borders of Jerusalem by their own daily behavior. The overwhelming majority of Israelis do not cross the lines to Palestinian Jerusalem, and the overwhelming majority of Palestinians – other than those needing to work – do not cross the line into Israeli Jerusalem. Jerusalem will never really be one, open city until the reality of two Jerusalems is recognized and accepted by both sides.
The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. His latest book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, was published by Vanderbilt University Press.
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