‘Independence’ day: the view from Ramallah

How ironic is it that the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East, places the residents of its ‘eternal capital’ under curfew for an undetermined period of time, while it celebrates its glorious 54th anniversary as a state?

How ironic that it should celebrate this independence, by destroying the homes of the grandchildren of thousands of people in Jenin refugee camp made homeless during their initial ‘war of independence’?

How ironic is it that the country that claims a 5,000 year long connection to the city of Jerusalem, can�t actually figure out where the borders are?

Currently, the Palestinian residents of numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods are imprisoned in their own homes. Today’s Ha’aretz states that ‘a curfew was placed on all Arab neighborhoods surrounding the capital due to warnings of terror attacks.’*

What it fails to mention is that these ‘neighborhoods’ lie within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and most of the residents hold Jerusalem ID cards.

Somehow today, perhaps because it is ‘independence’ day, or perhaps because it would cast a nasty palor on this media savvy nation’s reputation, these ‘neighborhoods’ are suddenly no longer in the ‘capital.’ And, of course, illegal Israeli settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim, which, by the way, lie beyond these Palestinian ‘neighborhoods’ and, by the way, are built on land stolen from Palestinians, are considered part of Jerusalem.

Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone who is aware of the fact that this ‘independent’ nation unilaterally expanded the borders of their ‘capital’ in 1967 to include the greatest amount of land with the fewest Palestinian residents.

As we sit writing this entry, we are witnesses to our own fireworks display. The dark sky is punctuated by the sound of Israeli tank shells being fired across the valley, sounds which are difficult to distinguish from the fire works being shot up over Psagot, an illegal Israeli settlement, hovering over Ramallah.

How sick is it when a nation celebrates its ‘independence’ while keeping the native residents of this land imprisoned in their own homes not 15 kilometers away?

How perverted is it that ‘independence’ day is celebrated while thousands of Palestinian males, including children, lie outside on the ground, bound and blindfolded, waiting for their turn for interrogation?

Are those that are celebrating tonight blind and numb to human suffering?

From our view in Ramallah, there is nothing to celebrate.

* ‘Exchange of fire at Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,’ 17 April 2002, Ha’aretz Service and Agencies.