Jerusalem: occupation, discrimination and colonization / an answer to

Posted: April 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a response to a post on which dealt with the renovations of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem’s old city. This was a unilateral move by Israel, which brought some protest from the Palestinian side, and I’ve used this opportunity to criticize Israeli policies in the occupied parts of the city.

Last week, the author of the original post, which uses the nick “TheMiddle”, posted his reply. It’s worth reading, also because TM sums up pretty well the “pragmatic” Israeli view of city and its future: a unified capitol now, which will probably be divided later.

TM objects to expelling Palestinians from their houses (on the condition that they settled there before 1967), but supports Israel’s actions in the Old City and on the nearby neighborhood of Silwan. Though he doesn’t say it in so many words, I conclude that he also supports the construction of new neighborhoods for Jews on the eastern (occupied) parts of the city. I gather this from article 9 in his post, where he states that building houses for Jews on purchased land is OK.

I’d like to use this post to argue that Jerusalem is not a unified city, that its Arab residents are discriminated both de-facto and de-jure, that Israel is doing almost everything in its power to colonize the city and to push Palestinians out of it, and that from a legal perspective, there is not such a big difference between building in the Old City of Jerusalem to having Jews enter houses in Sheikh Jerrah (which TM opposes). The international community is right in not recognizing Israeli control over the so-called unified city.

If one wants to understand the nature of Israeli occupation, its pseudo-legal system and all its absurdities, all you have to do is look closely at what’s going on in Jerusalem.



The Israeli government decided to annex the eastern parts of the Jerusalem two weeks after the Six Days war, on June 26 1967. Seven years ago, Haaretz published some parts of this cabinet meeting’s protocol. The ministers took great effort to portray this as an administrative order, and to avoid public attention as much as they could. They even contacted the Israeli Censor involved for this purpose.

After the war, the government also formed a secret administrative unit called Igum who was in charge of purchasing land from Arab citizens of Jerusalem and turning it over to Jews. This unit was also involved in “encouraging” Arabs to leave the city. Israel also took immediate unilateral moves to evacuate the Jewish part of the Old City from its Arab residents. Luckily, an offer by IDF chief Rabbi to blow up the mosques on Temple Mountain was rejected.

There are two very important issues that must be understood and considered when discussing Jerusalem:

1.    Israel annexed in East Jerusalem an area more than 10 times bigger than the original Jordanian city – 71,000 dunams (71 sq. km.) as opposed to 6,000 dunams of Jordanian Jerusalem (see map above). This area includes 28 Palestinian towns and villages which were never part of historic Jerusalem. Since than, more than one third of the annexed land was confiscated by the state and used for the construction of Jewish neighborhoods. They house now around 250,000 Jews. Israel also confiscated land to build its government offices in the east side of town, including in the controversial Sheikh Jerrah neighborhood.

2.    When Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the towns and villages surrounding it, it gave Palestinians living there a status of “residents” and not citizens. This is a major point. Residents cannot vote in the general elections, they are not issued Israeli Passports; they cannot buy apartments or houses on state land (which makes most of the land in Israel and almost all the land in Jerusalem). If they leave Jerusalem for more than 7 years they lose their residency permit, and are left without any civil status; and because of the new citizenship order, they cannot live in East Jerusalem with partners who are not residents as well. If a Jerusalem Palestinian marries a woman from nearby Ramallah or Bethlehem, he can’t bring his wife to live at his home. Read the rest of this entry » advocating the right of return?

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments »

I just ran across this post on site, which demonstrates so much of what is so absurd about the Israeli policy in East Jerusalem. It also teaches something about the people defending these policies.

The article deals with a Synagogue in occupied old Jerusalem and how Jews finally managed to reconstruct it in spite of Palestinian protest. The anonymous author praises the synagogue as “a symbol of return for the Jewish people to Jerusalem”.

Read the core of his argument:

The Hurva Synagogue has been rebuilt in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Old City is part of what is meant by “east Jerusalem” when people claim it belongs to the Palestinians. The Old City was all of Jerusalem until the mid-1800s and it had a Jewish majority at the time. As the population grew and Zionists from Europe funded growth of other neighborhoods, Jerusalem expanded beyond the Old City. However, a Jewish population remained there until 1948, when, in Israel’s War of Independence all of the Jews were evicted by the Jordanians and their allies, the local Arab forces (nee, Palestinians). In that war, Jordan, with its British trained forces, conquered east Jerusalem as well as the area west of the Jordan River which they promptly renamed “West Bank.”

When signing a cease fire agreement with Israel, the Jordanians refused to consider the cease fire lines as borders. Indeed, those borders have never been drawn and in a complex dance, when peace was signed with Jordan, the question of the “West Bank” was still incomplete because in 1988 the Jordanians renounced all rights to the territory. When people demand that Israel go back to 1967 lines, what they mean is that Israel should return to 1949 armistice lines. The problem with those lines, however, is that the Old City, with its Jewish Quarter and the Temple Mount and its Western Wall are on the non-Israel side because they fell into Jordanian hands.


Rebuilding the Hurva Synagogue is a symbol of return for the Jewish people to Jerusalem.

Now, this is the same logic that the supporters of the Jewish settlements in Sheikh Jerrah and Silwan follow: that this land belonged to Jews before 1948, and that by building there unilaterally and ignoring all Palestinian claims, Jews are not colonizing the land, but rather returning to it.

But this is actually the worst arguments Israelis can raise! If it’s in someone’s interest to recognize ownership of land according to the situation prior to 1948, it’s obviously the Palestinians. Palestinians have legitimate claims to houses and land inside Israel, most of them well documented by the British and the Ottomanians. Some families even hold the keys to the houses they abandoned (and in many cases, expelled from) in 1948. And If Israel was to return to the 1947 partition lines rather than the armistice lines, it would actually lose much more land that it would gain.  This is the reason Israel’s first condition is to base all negotiations on the situation in 1949, not 1947.

In their typical rush to defend everything Israel is doing, the Jewish hipsters of Jewlicious are actually backing the most radical Palestinian claim – the one for a full right of return. Read the rest of this entry »

The Cellcom commercial (update)

Posted: July 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments »

The Washington Post caught up (via Reuters) with the Cellcom commercial story, and has even a quote from my previous post on its article, which also gives the first official comment from the phone company on the matter:

Asked to comment, Cellcom said its “core value is communication between people” regardless of “religion, race or gender.” It said the commercial illustrated the possibility for people of diverse opinions to engage in “mutual entertainment.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli blogosphere is boiling: here is Ami Kaufman and Dimi Reider, and in Hebrew you can read Niv Hadas (on, Zvika Roll, Meron Rapaport and finally, an unusually political debate in one of’s (a site devoted to cell phones) forums.

Don’t miss “the full version” of the commercial. UPDATE: removed the video. I’ll post it again when it remerges

Ironically, immediately after I offered as an example of some American liberal Jews’ tendency to adopt and defend right-wing politics and extremely unliberal ideas when it comes to Israel, there was a post on the site describing the commercial as “cute”.

As far as I could tell, the daily papers in Israel are yet to discover the story. UPDATE: TheMarker, Ynet, NRG. for some reason, these articles state that “Arabs are protesting against the Cellcom commercial”, as if Jews were not offended by it as well.