Sham and shame of Jerusalem Day

May 21, 2012
Sarah Benton

Youth celebrate Jerusalem Day in the Old City, May 2012. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

For second straight year, marchers chant anti-Arab slogans during Jerusalem Day
Marchers attack three left-wing protesters trying to document the flag procession; police clash with hundreds of the Palestinian protesters near Damascus Gate.

By Nir Hasson, Oz Rosenberg and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

Hundreds of Jewish youths participating in the Jerusalem Day flag procession shouted anti-Muslim slogans like “Mohammed is dead” at Palestinians holding a rally in the capital’s Old City to protest the march.

The marchers yesterday also attacked three left-wing protesters trying to document the flag procession, the activists said. One said dozens of marchers surrounded them, shouting “Death to the leftists,” and that a marcher broke the handle of an Israeli flag on her head. The left-wing activists also said the marchers spat at them and threw things at them.

Border Police protected the activists and escorted them away after 10 minutes.
Police also clashed with hundreds of the Palestinian protesters near Damascus Gate. They arrested 10 marchers suspected of shouting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans, and five Palestinians suspected of throwing objects at the marchers.

Organizers of the march had pledged that unlike last year, participants would not shout incendiary statements. But while the organizers said only a few outliers failed to adhere to that standard, hundreds of young people spent hours shouting at the Palestinians protesting near Damascus Gate.

Among the refrains were “The Temple will be rebuilt, the mosque will be burned.” The marchers also shouted that Arabs were “sons of whores” and applauded Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler who massacred 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs during the Purim holiday in 1994.

A large police contingent was deployed at the event, which started in downtown Jerusalem, entered the Old City through Damascus Gate, continued into the Muslim Quarter and ended at the Western Wall.

Some left-wing protesters gathered at Damascus Gate to protest the holding of the march in Arab neighborhoods. Police separated the protesters from the marchers before the confrontations could escalate.

Most businesses on Hagai Street, the main road in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, closed before the march began, to avoid clashes with the marchers.
Throughout the day, groups from yeshivas and high schools paraded through the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, waving Israeli flags and singing songs about Jerusalem.

Police had planned to change the route of this year’s event to avoid incidents. But they
ultimately agreed to allow right-wingers to pass through the Muslim Quarter after speaking to the organizers, who pledged to prevent last year’s ugly scenes.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep Jerusalem united.
The city “will not be divided again,” he said at the state Jerusalem Day ceremony on the capital’s Ammunition Hill.

“I know that there are some who say that if only we were to divide Jerusalem there would be peace,” he said. “I don’t believe that.”

Earlier in the day, MKs Uri Ariel and Michael Ben Ari, both of National Union, visited the Temple Mount, accompanied by about 20 right-wing activists.

Ben Ari and two other right-wing figures prostrated themselves on the Temple Mount, where the Muslim Waqf does not allow Jews to pray. Police detained them afterward.
“It’s our right to pray at the Temple Mount,” Ben Ari said. “The police are doing the Waqf’s work for them.”

Abolish “Jerusalem Day”, the holiday of the settlers and racists

Gush Shalom
Media release, 19.05.12

A lie does not become a truth, even if repeated forty-five times. Jerusalem is a not a united city, and has never been a united city in the forty-five years since 1967. East Jerusalem is a Palestinian area under occupation rule. Just so is it treated by the governmental and municipal authorities of the State of Israel, and by the settlers who are dispossessing the Palestinian inhabitants, with the funding and backing of these authorities – as recently happened again in the Beit Hanina Neighborhood.

“Jerusalem Day” is not a holiday to Israel’s citizens or to residents of Jerusalem. It is a holiday only for the young settlers, who are given by the Jerusalem Police a free hand to hold a provocative “Flag Dance” throughout East Jerusalem – even though in previous years this “dance” developed into an ongoing chain of racist harassment and violence against Palestinian inhabitants.

It is time to end the lie and erase this ugly stain from the calendar of the State of Israel. The real Jerusalem Day will be the day when the occupation ends and Jerusalem becomes the capital of two states – West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. Only then can Jerusalem truly be a united city, by the free will of all its inhabitants – Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749
Israelis and Palestinians will demonstrate at the Old City’s Damascus Gate against the “Jerusalem Day”, which is the Day of Occupation

Today, Sunday May 20, there shall be marked the so-called “Jerusalem Day”, dedicated to glorification of the myth of the Unity of the City. But Jerusalem is not united, it is divided and occupied. “Jerusalem Day” a day of celebration for the settlers who make of use of this date to hold various activities in East Jerusalem, activities which are, year after year, accompanied by the terrorizing and mass use of violence against Palestinian inhabitants.

At the call of the Solidarity movement we will join our Palestinian partners in protesting against the Right-wing “Flag Dance” which celebrates the ongoing occupation of East Jerusalem. The East Jerusalem neighborhood committees invited Israelis to join in the

Protest event at the Damascus Gate at wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, facing the Right-wing “Flag Dance”, on Sunday, May 20, 2012, at 6:00 PM.

It should be noted that the protest is organized by Palestinians and it is our partners who will determine the nature of the demonstrations. We must also warn that in recent years, “Jerusalem Day” is often marked by violence from both settlers and the security forces.

Jerusalem Day 2012
Unprecedented Deterioration: 78% Poverty Rate and a Frail Job Market in East Jerusalem

Prolonged policies have stifled the job market and the economical development of East Jerusalem, according to a report and short film released by the Association for Civil Right in Israel (ACRI) ahead of “Jerusalem Day,” which is marked in Israel today (Sunday). The report and the film outline the harmful policies and the neglect of the Israeli state authorities and the Jerusalem Municipality, which have lead to an unprecedented deterioration in the state of 360,882 Palestinians in the Jerusalem: 78% of the total Palestinian population in the Jerusalem District live below the poverty line, including 84% of the children, according to the Israeli National Insurance Institute.

Among the policies described in this ACRI report:
Separation Barrier: The split between the West Bank and Jerusalem has dried up the commerce and harmed the economical situation, preventing Palestinians from entering Jerusalem, which was traditionally a vital urban center. The barrier has had particular damaging effects on 90,000 Jerusalem residents living in neighborhoods cut off by the barrier.

Neglect of Education System: Palestinian schools are characterized by shortage of classrooms, lack of budgets and investment, and a massive dropout rate of 40%. University degrees are usually attained from Palestinian universities or institutes abroad and consequently are not recognized by the authorities for vocations in Jerusalem. The alternative is working in low-end, low-paid jobs.

Stifled Markets and Industry: The Wadi Jozi Industrial Zone is the only such zone in East Jerusalem, it is limited in industries, and now it is at risk of being shot down. The land and planning policies are preventing physical development, and businessmen are choosing instead to develop businesses in other West Bank cities.

Deficient Employment Services: Existing services offered by the Labor Ministry and the Municipality place little effort and budgets to creating high-quality job opportunities for Palestinians. They do not offer the much-needed professional training programs, and instead direct residents to low-end jobs that require physical force.

Other obstacles outlined in the report relate to challenges in working in West Jerusalem and working in Hebrew; women in the workforce and the challenges of young working mothers; and the violation of rights of Palestinians whose status was revoked or who are in the process of family unification.

ACRI Attorney Nisreen Alyan, who compiled the report: “Both Israeli law and international law obligate the state of Israel, in light of the abnormal political conditions in East Jerusalem, to fully safeguard the rights of the residents. A new policy, which is urgently needed, must include greater budgets and solutions that are appropriate to the circumstances and are created through dialogue with the Palestinian population.”

Watch ACRI’s short film “Fated to poverty?! Policies of poverty in East Jerusalem” (English subtitles)

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