Presented below are two posts which originally appeared a week ago …. in case you missed them, you can get a pretty good idea what awaits Mr. Obama on the streets of Jerusalem … and what we can expect from his visit.
Presented below are two posts which originally appeared a week ago …. in case you missed them, you can get a pretty good idea what awaits Mr. Obama on the streets of Jerusalem … and what we can expect from his visit.
The report that follows took me back to something that happened almost 30 years ago;
I was a new immigrant to Israel and had to go to special classes to learn Hebrew. The students were divided into study groups of four to work together on special assignments. In my group, there was a young Palestinian man named Osama. We became close friends which continues until today.
Our group took turns at working together in each other’s homes. There was some reluctance on the part of the others to go to Osama’s home despite his willingness for us to go there. He constantly referred to his village as “his country”. His home was in Beit Safafa, the village described below.
Finally, the entire group agreed to visit ‘his country’. It was an eye opener for all of us. Here we were in an Arab village in the heart of Jerusalem, yet we were in a different country, a country called Palestine. We were welcomed into Osama’s home by his loving family and treated with the most delicious Palestinian dishes reserved only for special holidays.
When I read the following report I wept for Osama’s family and neighbours. It brought to light the need for a Palestinian State which would put an end to the occupation and devastation of ‘THEIR country’.
Beit Safafa to be sliced by settler only highway
By Anna Germaine
“No, no Route 4!” a young Palestinian boy yelled out in Arabic.
His cries are directed towards the white washed Jerusalem stone walls and heavily tinted windows of the Jerusalem Municipality. He is speaking about Route 4, a controversial, illegal settler-only road that upon construction will slice directly through the predominantly Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, dividing the community in half.
Wednesday’s protest at the Jerusalem Municipality has legally bypassed the typical procedures that require public inclusion on the plan, making it impossible for Beit Safafa’s many affected residents to formally object to the plan. So in addition to protesting in Beit Safafa, demonstrators also gather weekly in front of the municipality, voicing their opposition in alternating Hebrew and Arabic in one last effort to be informally, if not formally heard.
Around 150 people gathered in front of the Municipality on Wednesday afternoon—the crowd is a mixture of both Palestinians front Beit Safafa and Israeli activists from Jerusalem. The Palestinian boy, Farook Salman, a young resident of Beit Safafa is at the very front, holding a sign that is taller than him.
Although he is yelling in Arabic, the sign is in Hebrew, with a graphic that traverses the language barrier of a photograph of the pastoral landscape of Beit Safafa being sliced with a pair of scissors.
“We want them to listen to us, so we write our signs in their language,” he tells me.
Beit Safafa is a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem, just south of the area commonly known as “West Jerusalem.” However, its relationship to Israel and Jerusalem has been tense since the beginning of the occupation. In 1949, Beit Safafa was divided by the Green Line, putting the northern two thirds under Israeli control and the southern third in the Jordanian-controlled occupied West Bank. In 1967, Israel annexed the southern two thirds and united them as part of Jerusalem, giving all residents the blue Jerusalem ID cards.
Now Beit Safafa is home to just under 10,000 Palestinians—some who are originally from Beit Safafa, and many others who re-settled after leaving Jaffa, Nazareth, Haifa and other cities inside of the ’48 territories.
However, the Jerusalem municipality does not treat the predominantly Arab town of Beit Safafa as equal residents of Jerusalem. While a city park is being planned for the south of Jerusalem in Beit Safafa (after a long battle by the residents for a green space in this part of the city) the logical geographic continuation of the park is being eschewed for the highway. While the other two neighborhoods of the German colony and Katamon are predominantly Jewish, Beit Safafa is largely Palestinian.
If built, Route 4 will separate Beit Safafa’s residents from the mosque, bakeries, hospitals and schools that are part of their daily lives. In order to cross the highway, Palestinian residents will be forced to use overpasses, underpasses and long roads to get from one side to the other—turning what was once a simple journey into an extensive ordeal.
The width of the road planned will be 33 meters wide at its smallest and 78 meters at its largest—meaning that at points, it could have as many as 10 or 11 lanes. Even with the alternate routes, underpasses and overpasses that are being implemented to justify the highway, the amount of land taken by the highway alone is devastating.
“It will make it very hard to get to school,” Saga, a Palestinian student said. “I am sure there will be a way, but it will be much more difficult than it is now.”
For some residents, although the highway has not been completed—and theoretically there is still time to halt its construction—the effects of the highway on their daily lives are already beginning.
“The highway will go behind my house,” Farook, tells me while adjusting his sign. “It’s where I normally play football with my friends, but a few days ago a soldier with a gun told us we couldn’t be on that land anymore, so we had to stop.”
Route 4 for Israeli residents
In the same way that this highway slices through the daily life of its Palestinian residents, it facilitates life for Jerusalem’s Jewish—and surrounding Jewish settlements—population. If the road is completed, it will connect the Gush Etzion settlement cluster south of the city to the Givat Ze’ev cluster in the north. Ultimately, it would link Tunnel Road—which connects Gush Etzion to Jerusalem—to Route 443, which connects several settler roads to Tel Aviv, facilitating easy access between settlers, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, further fulfilling a vision of a “Greater Jerusalem”—a vision of the city as the undisputed “Jews-only” capital of Israel.
In many ways, Route 4 echoes the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) which, through connecting Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with Central Jerusalem, condoned Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and uprooted and displaced many Palestinian families in the process. Once the train was finished, Israeli Jews living in settlements surrounding Jerusalem had an easy route into the city while—though it was ultimately decided that Palestinians could also use the train—it divided and uprooted Palestinian communities, and served as a permanent symbol of the occupation.
“I’m against building the road in the middle of Beit Safafa,” Maya, an Israeli resident of Jerusalem who prefers not to give her last name tells me.
“Although in some ways I think Beit Safafa should be on its own, as part of the Palestinian Authority, then it would be even further under occupation which wouldn’t be good.”
“But with this street it is not hard to figure out who is right and who is wrong,” she finishes. “It’s obvious.”
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Pope Benedict at Western Wall (Photo: AFP)
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Image of Lincoln by Charles White
An editorial cartoon showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall on the bodies of Palestinians and using their blood as cement was published in London’s Sunday Times.
The caption on the cartoon reads: “Israeli Elections… Will Cementing Peace Continue?” The cartoon was drawn by Gerald Scarfe, who drew the cover illustration for Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has been a critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The cartoon published Sunday – International Holocaust Memorial Day – is “sickening” and “offensive,” the European Jewish Congress said in a statement.
European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor called for an apology from the Sunday Times on Sunday.
“This cartoon would be offensive at any time of the year, but to publish it on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is sickening and expresses a deeply troubling mindset,” Kantor said. “This insensitivity demands an immediate apology from both the cartoonist and the paper’s editors.”
“Amazingly, as this cartoon was published days after the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, underwent fully democratic elections, as others in the Middle East were being butchered by the tens of thousands, the Sunday Times focuses its imagination solely on the Jewish State,” Kantor said in the statement.
HonestReporting called the cartoon “a blood libel on a day when the millions of victims of the Holocaust are remembered.”
“Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember the most appalling atrocities carried out in modern history. It should also be a day when the media remembers that Israel’s actions to defend its citizens bear no relation whatsoever to the genocidal crimes of the Nazis. On any day, this cartoon’s imagery is an assault on the real victims of genocide, demeans their suffering and insults their memory. The Sunday Times should be mindful that what started as cartoons in the 1930′s ultimately led to violence and unspeakable tragedy. This is a lesson that The Sunday Times has clearly not absorbed,” said HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams in a statement issued Sunday by the organization.
Needless to say, the ADL was one of the first to join the chorus with the following (From) …
In an email to The Algemeiner, the Anti Defamation League has slammed Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper for publishing a cartoon “with a blatantly anti-Semitic theme,” which appeared Sunday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, and has called for an immediate apology.
Raheem Kassam, Editor of The Commentator which first reported on the publication of the shocking image described the cartoon as depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “large-nosed Jew, hunched over a wall, building with the blood of Palestinians as they writhe in pain within it.”
“Penned by Gerald Scarfe (the cartoonist behind Pink Floyd’s The Wall), the caption reads: ‘Israeli Elections… Will Cementing Peace Continue?’” added Honest Reporting which also reported on the image.
“The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings publishing a cartoon with a blatantly anti-Semitic theme and motif which is a modern day evocation of the ancient ‘blood libel’ charge leveled at Jews,” Michael A. Salberg, ADL International Affairs Director told The Algemeiner. “There is nothing subtle about the caricatured image of Prime Minister Netanyahu using Palestinians and their blood to build a wall to ‘protect’ Israelis,” he added.
Salberg called for an immediate response from The Sunday Times saying, “The Sunday Times should be ashamed and should immediately apologize for its gross insensitivity.”
The ADL also made reference to the history of such gross portrayals of Jews and their role in fanning the hatred that led to their slaughter. “This is the stuff which historically justified hatred of Jews and led to the wholesale slaughter of Jews,” he said.
CEO of Honest Reporting, Joe Hyams, added criticism of the publication, saying, “Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember the most appalling atrocities carried out in modern history. It should also be a day when the media remembers that Israel’s actions to defend its citizens bear no relation whatsoever to the genocidal crimes of the Nazis. On any day, this cartoon’s imagery is an assault on the real victims of genocide, demeans their suffering and insults their memory. The Sunday Times should be mindful that what started as cartoons in the 1930′s ultimately led to violence and unspeakable tragedy. This is a lesson that The Sunday Times has clearly not absorbed.”
The Sunday Times of owned by News International which is in turn owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. In the past Murdoch has been recognized by a number of Jewish organizationsincluding the Anti Defamation League for his friendship to the Jewish community. Murdoch has been consistently listed by The Algemeiner as one of the “top 10 non-Jews positively influencing the Jewish future.”
When reached on the phone by The Algemeiner a representative of the News International Press Office would not immediately comment on the cartoon.
UPDATE: The Sunday Times responded to The Algemeiner’s request for comment, issuing the following statement: “This is a typically robust cartoon by Gerald Scarfe. The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-Semitic. It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appears today because Mr Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week. The Sunday Times condemns anti-Semitism, as is clear in the excellent article in today’s Magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organised by David Irving.”
Ofer Neiman planned to cast a ballot in Jerusalem on Tuesday, but not for a party of his choosing. Rather, he decided to “give up” his ballot, as he put it, for an East Jerusalem Palestinian – a man who doesn’t have the right to vote in elections for the government under whose laws he lives, and which has the power to determine his fate.
That man is Bassam Aramin, who, like Neiman, is a peace activist. The two are part of a new initiative called Real Democracy, inspired by a similar movement that sprang up in the UK in 2010. There, supporters were asked to donate as it were their votes to people in countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In just ten days, the group says, about 2,000 Israelis have volunteered to give up their votes by being paired up with Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza.
“I always supported Meretz and Hadash,” Neiman explains. “But I came to the conclusion that specific parties by themselves will not bring about any change from the left, and it’s more important to emphasize in various ways that these elections are not actually democratic. For me, it’s part of an ongoing worldwide movement to let people know there’s no democracy here, so instead of these false hopes by voting for left-wing parties, I’m voting on someone else’s behalf.”
Critics might say that there is a flawed logic here. Palestinians have voted in elections; Aramin himself voted for the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996 and in 2006. The latter wasn’t easy, because the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality didn’t want Palestinian Authority voting booths dotting the officially united capital, even though the right of East Jerusalemites to cast ballots was stipulated in the Oslo Accords. And with Hamas emerging as the victor, it was an election many pro-peace Palestinians and Israelis would just as soon forget.
But those elections don’t mean much under the circumstances, Neiman posits. “The Palestinian elections are meaningless, because they’re still under Israeli occupation and they have no sovereignty,” he says.
Aramin, whose 10-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed in 2007 by a border policeman, is a co-founder of Combatants for Peace and is involved in the forum that brings bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families together. He knows that Real Democracy’s campaign will be dismissed by many as a fringe phenomenon. But he hopes that it will make people think twice about accepting the status quo.
“My hope is that a lot of Israelis will start to open their eyes and ask, ‘why are these crazy Israelis giving their votes to the Palestinians, to the ‘enemy,’” he quips. “I hope that through this, more people will realize that what we’ve been living with for almost 46 years is not a normal situation, and it is not democracy. Perhaps this campaign will open up some debate about it.” He asked Neiman to vote Hadash, “because it’s the most serious Arab-Jewish party, and because I like Dov Khenin. He’s always with us, fighting for real democracy and coexistence.”
Shimri Zameret, one of the activists, discovered late Monday that a group of nine Palestinians from Bil’in, a site of regular protests against the West Bank barrier, wanted to participate. Zameret put up a note on Real Democracy’s Facebook page asking for Israelis to give up their vote for the nine, but was skeptical that they’d have enough last-minute takers.
“In 45 minutes, we had nine Israelis come forward. We were all shocked at how fast people signed up,” he says.
Sometimes the Palestinian “match” for the Israeli voter says his or her choice is to boycott the vote altogether. That’s what happened for Zameret, who is voting on behalf of a man named Omar in Hebron.
“It’s a form of civil disobedience. Yes, people get angry at me and say, ‘how do you change the system if you don’t participate?’ But I don’t agree,” says Zameret. “Sometimes boycotting is a better way of highlighting the lack of legitimacy of the system.”
Shelly Nativ, 40, who lives in Tel Aviv and works at Open University, was casting a vote for Wajih Burnat, a Palestinian in Bil’in whom she knows from going to protests in his West Bank village. He decided to vote for Ahmed Tibi and Ra’am-Ta’al.
“To have a few million people decide the fate of double the amount of people, that’s not a democracy,” she says. “For me things here have gone so wrong, I didn’t feel comfortable to just go and vote, because I felt that the parties I might vote for couldn’t address the severity of the current situation. So the campaign made sense to me – I can at least give my vote to someone else.”
She hesitates, and moves away from the polling place where she just voted, concerned she could be accused of campaigning too close to the ballot box. “I hope it has some kind of impact,” she adds, lowering her voice. “The positive impact will be if it will somehow diversify the public debate about our state of affairs. It has been very narrow so far.”
* Roger Waters UN Address
A note from Carlos …
The collection of artworks I made along 2012 are now available for free download at Internet Archive, including cartoons about Egypt (Mubarak trial, SCAF rule, presidential elections, Morsi rule, constitution draft), Bahrain, North Ireland, Syria war, Palestine, Gaza attack, Israel, US presidential elections, US spree killings, Brazil, Chile, Islamophobia, Greece economic crisis, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, Kurds in Turkey, etc.
Some of these people, like Rivero, Gage, Bowman, Peter Dale Scott, William Rodriguez are prominent 9/11 truthers and bloggers.
December 22, 2012 at 18:05 (DesertPeace Editorial)