Israel demolishes myth of a unified Jerusalem

“What we are seeing is the demolition of the myth that there is a unified Jerusalem under Zionist sovereignty,” says Budour Yousef Hassan.

“Even the Israeli occupation has accepted that Jerusalem is not united and … there is segregation.”

The Palestinian journalist was reacting to Israel’s ongoing crackdown in Jerusalem, including its intensified imposition of checkpoints, concrete walls and barbed wire to isolate Palestinian neighborhoods within the city.

She was speaking from the occupied city on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream on 20 October, along with Palestinian writers Farah Baker in Gaza, Mariam Barghouti in Ramallah and the UK journalist Ben White.

Watch the video above.

Everything to lose

“This explosion was always waiting to happen,” Hassan said.

Jerusalem has been “boiling” since the July 2014 abduction and burning to death of teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair by several Israeli Jews, she explained.

Hassan also challenged the common claim that Palestinians who engage in “lone wolf” attacks do so because they have “nothing left to lose.”

“I’ve been privileged enough to meet families of martyrs who’ve lost their lives in the past couple of months and over the last few years,” Hassan said.

“Every single person, every single young man or woman has so much to lose,” she added. “They have families, they have dreams, they have aspirations. Every single one of them has his or her very individual and unique story, very individual and unique dreams.”

“Muhannad Halabi was a very bright law student, very eloquent, very articulate,” she said.

The 19-year-old Halabi fatally stabbed two Israelis in the Old City of Jerusalem earlier this month.

Nehamia Lavi, 41, was a rabbi in the Israeli army and Aaron Benita, 21, was a combat soldier. Lavi lived in occupied East Jerusalem and Benita in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit.

Oslo generation

Hassan called youths like Halabi members of the “Oslo generation,” born around the time of the 1993 agreement negotiated in the Norwegian capital that created the Palestinian Authority.

These youths, she said, are “fed up with Oslo, they are fed up with the occupation, they are fed up with the negotiations that have led them nowhere, they are fed up with this corrupt leadership.”

Some had lost loved ones to the occupation and that was the context in which they decided to act.

Hassan has regularly profiled Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces for The Electronic Intifada.

She said the current uprising was not organized, but in time a new leadership could emerge from among the youth.

It would face efforts at cooptation and sabotage from the existing Palestinian hierarchy, but the most formidable obstacle would be Israel.

Israel’s ongoing arrest campaigns focus on youth activists.

“They arrest anyone who can do any change,” Hassan said. “This is how you neutralize a movement, not just by killing but by arrests.”

But Hassan remains certain that even if the present uprising is crushed, it will not be for long and Palestinians will revolt again.

“De facto one state”

Ben White noted the broader political context of the escalating violence.

“The entire Israeli cabinet is full of ministers who reject the idea of Palestinian statehood, who routinely racially incite against Palestinians,” he said.

“There is a de facto one state at the moment where Israel segregates, discriminates and implements an apartheid system,” he added.

Ramallah-based activist Mariam Barghouti took aim at regular claims that Palestinians have failed to try nonviolence.

“Every single time Palestinians begin resisting, you have the international community telling us, ‘well why don’t you resist peacefully?’” she said.

“Palestinians have tried peaceful resistance and still the violence from the Israeli military, from the Israeli government was the same.”

Gaza writer Farah Baker spoke about daily life under siege getting even tougher.

“Of course as a teenager I dream of being able to travel anywhere else in the world whenever I want without thinking, will I get permission?” she said.

Baker was recently denied a permit by Israel to travel to the US consulate in Jerusalem to apply for a visa.

She had been invited to the US to receive an award for her reporting via social media during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza from the Institute for Middle East Understanding.

Now, Baker says, many people in Gaza are worried that Israel could use the uprising in the West Bank as a pretext to launch another devastating attack on them.

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“Every single time Palestinians begin resisting, you have the international community telling us, ‘well why don’t you resist peacefully?’”

People of that 'international community' who speak in such terms are denying responsibility and affirming the normalcy of war which today is contextually anathema to all human well-being. Just because war, finally driven by greed and selfishness, may have been the normative reality for most of what we know as recorded human history, still doesn't make it right. Quite the contrary.

We are alive today to advance the challenge to allow our intelligence to put an end to our collective inhumanity. Every continuing moment, even of mere being, that sustains any tolerance for these scales of hatred and conflict is challenging all our claims to civilized human society.

It remains a shameful tragedy that no international entity can or will stand with the girth of wealth to structure a presence of activity in recognition of such terms and circumstances. The human ability to establish world peace remains a sadly (because it is a merely) unfunded reality.

Where the explanation remains that war is good business and peace is not, the nature of business is failed and flawed. Let us not destroy the gift through the pretense of greed. We are all one, even if and even where you do not like your neighbor's religion, nature, or ways.

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I'm getting old now, I'm retired. This cruel occupation has gone on long enough. I remember being angry as a teenager. I'm still angry as an old man.

My government doesn't seem to care. Plenty of the people care, but our ministers and politicians have been bought and they simply don't take any notice of the people.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. And, if you can, spent the odd few pounds, dollars, Euros or yen to support these people. If any group of people deserved our support, it's the Palestinians.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.