In Jerusalem, the Israeli Tormentor Whines

The question isn’t why firecrackers are being thrown in East Jerusalem, but what are the aims of a government that systematically beats down and harasses a population.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli riot police officers detain a Palestinian youth during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, October 26, 2014. Credit: AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

East Jerusalem is a battered and tortured city. And the master doing the beating and inflicting the torture rubs his hands contentedly since, once again, he’s been able to get his fellow masters abroad and in the media to be shocked by the violence of the beaten ones and to ignore the nonstop terror attacks that he commits.

East Jerusalem under Israeli domination for nearly half a century is a city haunted by violence. State violence. To calculate the proper dosage of new draconian laws, cement blocks and stinking water [to “quell riots”] our experts measure and weigh why there is unrest now in East Jerusalem and break down the reasons as follows: 13 percent is due to the population paying municipal taxes without receiving municipal services; 12 percent, to a shortage of classrooms and housing while land is appropriated for building roads and housing for Jews; 17 percent, to Jews with an overt pogrom-type syndrome who settle in the middle of one’s home; and 58 percent, to Al Aqsa. In short, it’s all due to incitement. If not for the incitement quiet would prevail in East Jerusalem and the master could continue to hurt, torture, beat, rob, torment, and enjoy himself.

One other way the abuser derives pleasure is by talking at length about the violence carried out by the abused. So we’ll do the opposite and talk at length about the abuse.

The master abuses, and hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in the city and profit from the abuse act as if they don’t see or know about it, as if it has nothing to do with them.

Intentional abuse

The question isn’t why is there unrest in East Jerusalem, but what are the aims of the government that for nearly half a century has been torturing, beating, abusing and robbing – and in the past 20 years, under the cover of a peace process, has only intensified its terror attacks against the population under its domination. The country’s leaders are no dummies. Nor are they inexperienced in the ways of oppression. They know that action X results in consequences Y and Z. They know that they are creating an intolerable situation for the native, non-Jewish population.

The answer to the question is clear, and is no earth-shattering revelation. If you purposely create an intolerable situation, your aim is to cause people to decide to go live somewhere else where their situation will be tolerable, perhaps good or even very good. In short, over the years, the Israeli governments and Jerusalem municipal governments, whether Labor or Likud, hoped and aimed to get the Palestinians to vanish from our sight and from the city.

Palestinian resistance

But the Palestinians in Jerusalem didn’t go along with the plan. They’re not leaving. Or at least not in the kind of numbers that would satisfy the demography wizards. And not only are they not going away, they’re disturbing the peace. Hundreds of brave, heroic children and youths are putting their lives on the line and clashing with the security forces to try to remind the world that for the past half century they have been living under a foreign, hostile, oppressive and abusive rule. Dozens more occasionally throw stones at Jews, whom they see as representing that part of the city’s population that isn’t lifting a finger to put an end to the abuse. A few, driven by a desire for revenge, have rammed into Jews with their vehicles in suicide terror attacks.

Over the past 20 years, Israel has added a political tool to its repertoire of devices designed for abuse: the isolation of East Jerusalem from the population of the West Bank and Gaza and a prohibition preventing the official leadership from operating in the city (through the closing of PLO institutions and a ban on political and cultural activity, claiming it is sponsored by the Palestinian Authority). Like many colonialists before it, Israel figures that by fragmenting the population this way and neutralizing its leadership, it will weaken its power of resistance. This system is working so far, and enabling Israel to stick to the status quo of continually altering the situation for the sake of Greater Israel. But there’s a reason why East Jerusalem isn’t following the Israeli blueprint.

Unlike the enclaves of the West Bank and Gaza, where there is an illusion of sovereignty and a Palestinian subcontractor, a governmental buffer that separates the abuser-occupier from the population, in “united” Jerusalem, the Palestinians live directly under the Israeli boot. This policy has led to the impoverishment of most of the East Jerusalem population, caused many from the middle class to leave and led to a relative uniformity in the living conditions of its inhabitants. There’s no longer much difference between the Shoafat refugee camp and the village of Issawiya with all its (stolen) lands.

Why Al Aqsa?

And Jerusalem also happens to be the site of Haram a-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, a religious and emotional magnet that, also in the absence of charismatic leaders, serves as a national symbol to those who see no political horizon. The holy site is also a religious symbol for another billion and a half people in the world. Which is why it is such a source of strength and power for the small native people that Israel is doing its utmost to dispossess of all concrete and symbolic assets. All East Jerusalemites – including those who oppose revenge attacks and cloaking resistance in religious terms – have become the guardians of the holy compound. And the holy compound is their guardian.