Sheikh Jarrah Roundup 23/1/2010
The Ibn Ezra website is run by Joseph Dana and Mairav Zonszein, Jerusalem based, American-Israeli Ta’ayush activists. It offers an on-the-ground perspective on life in Israel and the reality of the settlement project for Israeli and Palestinian society.
The report below is followed by one from Gush Shalom
The Israeli Foreign Service should be thanking each and every protester in Sheikh Jarrah. The international media is now carrying stories about Israelis that want an end to separation and racism. Israelis that will face police brutality and go to jail if necessary. This is a face of Israel that needs to be seen and thanks to the dedication of the direct action peace camp in Israel, the message is getting across. Forget about field hospitals in Haiti, images from Sheikh Jarrah, Bil’in, Nil’in and Nebi Salah of Israeli battling the occupation head on with non violence are the best thing for the state.
A week after the arrest of high profile non violent protesters in the weekly Sheikh Jarrah protest, the remnants of the Israeli left joined the Friday afternoon display of direct action. Amongst the protesters on Friday were leftist leaders such as Hadash chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh, former Meretz chairman Yossi Sarid and former MK Avraham Burg.
Below is a video [words in Hebrew] of the event from Yisrael Putermam, who is doing excellent work documenting the weekly events of direct action protest throughout Israel and the West Bank.
The Israeli news outlet Yediot Aharonot published various updates about the events in Sheikh Jarrah as they happened yesterday. Efrat Weiss, a staff reporter, wrote that protesters tried to break into “Jewish” homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Based on the video above does this look like what happen? Why are these people allowed to be employed as journalists? I am left asking these questions all too often. A shame.
Below is a report from one of the activists that attended the protest:
In Sheikh Jarrah this week the demonstration was even bigger than those of previous weeks. 350 demonstrators, amongst them former minister and Knesset Chair Avraham Burg, former minister Yossi Sarid, MK Muhamad Barak’e and former MK Uri Avneri, gathered in a park near the neighborhood to protest the racist evictions taking place there in spite of intensifying police oppression of the struggle (see last week’s report). Two demonstrators offered the police officer in charge, Avi Cohen, a big bouquet of flowers, thanking him for helping the struggle gain nationwide attention by arresting about 20 activists every week. Cohen refused to accept the flowers and they were left at his feet.
After about an hour of demonstrating in a tense atmosphere, demonstrators started marching towards the neighborhood. Border and Riot policemen stopped the march, while still allowing settlers and visitors of the Shimon Hat’sadik Tomb through. After a quarter of an hour police attacked the demonstration, arresting about 15 people and beating on others. The demonstration continued for another two and half hours, with police occasionally beating people and shoving them back, but attempting to avoid too many more arrests. The day ended with 22 arrested.
During the demonstration it became apparent that settlers were attacking Palestinians inside the neighborhood, and two residents required medial care. At the same time police raided Palestinian homes and arrested people who participated in the demonstration and then went home. The demonstrators’ protests outside against the police’s siding with the violent settlers were met with yet more police brutality.
“Thieves Go Home – Sheikh Jarakh is Palestine!”
Every one of those who came took into account that he could be arrested and held in detention for at least a day. The more experienced brought with them a toothbrush. Still, at the appointed time, 3 p.m., hundreds were already waiting (a most unusual thing in Israel.)
This was the largest demonstration yet in Sheikh Jarakh, were for some time now a demo is taking place every Friday, much like the demos in Bil’in, Nilin and other places.
The Friday before, the police had brutally squashed the protest and arrested 11 demonstrators, among them the director of the Association for Human Rights. Contrary to their usual treatment of peace demonstrations, the media this time covered the event extensively. The behavior of the police upset many who generally do not take part in demonstrations. This time they felt they must take part.
So almost a thousand protesters gathered today (Friday, 22.1.10) in an empty plot opposite Sheikh Jarakh, a few dozen yards away from the houses from which Palestinian families had been thrown out in order to allow settlers to move in. Side by side with the old battle horses one could see people for whom this was the first time. Among those who came was former minister Yossi Sarid. Also present were the painter Uri Lifshitz and several professors from the Hebrew University, whose buildings could be seen on a nearby hill. More or less young people stood besides more or less old ones, with the young shouting slogans, whistling with whistles specially donated for this purpose, singing and drumming. Almost all were Jewish.
One protester brought flowers and tried to deliver them to the police commander, who froze and did not move a muscle in his face. She put the flowers at his feet, where they remained, until, in the end, one of the protesters claimed them as booty.
The police dictated the place and the time: across the road, until 4 p.m. “One minute after 4, I shall disperse the demonstration by force,” the commander announced. On the hill opposite, a large detachment of border police was waiting.
But the protesters were not in the mood for dictates. After demonstrating for some time at the appointed place, shouting slogans, singing and whistling, at ten minutes after 4 they moved forward, crossed the road and marched towards the disputed houses. They were, however, stopped by a chain of border police. At this stage, a number of protesters were already arrested, while their comrades shouted and whistled.
For two more hours, until darkness descended, there were several such incidents – the police arrested protesters, the demonstrators shouted slogans (“A brave policeman beats demonstrators”). One protester was thrown to the ground and then she was arrested and dragged to the police car like all the rest.
All though the demo, ultra-Orthodox Jews in their Shabbat attire with their children pushed their way through the crowd on their way to the nearby grave of the Righteous Rabbi Shimon. Nobody hurt them. From time to time they were greeted with loud shouts of “Thieves, go home!” because the grave is located in occupied territory. The story that was published, that demonstrators had attacked them, was a blatant lie.
“We are protesting against the injustice done to the Palestinian families that were evicted,” Uri Avnery told the many Israeli and foreign reporters on behalf of Gush Shalom, “The eviction is based on the argument that these houses were bought by Jews a hundred years ago, long before the 1948 war. If every Jerusalemite were to get back the house he owned before 1948, half the Jewish population of West Jerusalem would have to be evicted, since they live in houses from which the Arabs were expelled during the 1948 war.”
Avnery added that the declared aim of the settlers is to Judaize East Jerusalem, in order to make peace impossible forever. “Everybody knows that there will be no peace without a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”