Jerusalem, the Capital of Apartheid, Awaits the Uprising

Mass arrests, violent settlers, expulsion, and dispossession: With that as the lot of Jerusalem's Palestinians, no one should have been surprised with Wednesday's terror attack.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Policemen detain a Palestinian protestor during clashes at the Temple Mount compound, Jerusalem, October 16, 2014.
Policemen detain a Palestinian protestor during clashes at the Temple Mount compound, Jerusalem, October 16, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday night should not have surprised anyone. After all, two nations live in the Pretoria of the State of Israel. Unlike the other occupied areas, there is supposed to be a certain equality between the two peoples: blue ID cards available for everybody, freedom of movement, property tax payable to the municipality, national insurance — Israelis all. But Jerusalem is engulfed by lies. It has become the Israeli capital of apartheid.

With the exception of Hebron, no place has such a blatant and brazen separation regime. And now the Israeli boot is coming down even harder in the capital, so the resistance in the ghetto-in-the-making is intensifying: battered and oppressed, neglected and poor, filled with feelings of hatred and an appetite for revenge.

The uprising is on the way. When the next wave of terror emerges from the alleys of East Jerusalem, Israelis will pretend to be astonished and furious. But the truth must be told: Despite Wednesday's shocking incident, the Palestinians are turning out to be one of the most tolerant nations in history. Mass arrests, violent settlers, deprivation, expulsion, neglect, dispossession — and they remain silent, except for the recent protest of the stones.

There is no self-deception from which the city doesn’t suffer. The capital is a capital only in its own eyes; the united city is one of the most divided in the universe. The alleged equality is a joke and justice is trampled on. Free access to the holy sites is for Jews only (and yes, for elderly Muslims). And the right of return is reserved for Jews.

A Palestinian resident of Jerusalem is now in far greater danger of being lynched than a Jew in Paris. But here there’s nobody to raise hell. Unlike the Parisian Jew, the Palestinian can be expelled from Jerusalem. He can also be arrested with terrifying ease. After 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burned to death, sparking a wave of protest, Israel arrested 760 Palestinians in the city, 260 of them children.

As always, the answer to every problem is a heavier hand. The prime minister has already ordered security forces to be bolstered, using the only language the people in his government know. And when the resistance, naturally, becomes more violent, they throw up their hands and say: “Look how they’re destroying the light rail system that we built for them.”

Jerusalem could have been different. Had Israel exercised justice and equality there, it could have become a model city; the people who annexed it should have strived for that. In the worst days of the intifada, relatively little terror originated in the city, even though its residents could travel freely.

The Palestinians are the same Palestinians, but the closure, the curfew and the siege are different. The result is that there was less terror in Jerusalem, disproving the theory that a siege prevents terror. Why? Because many residents of the capital actually long to become Israelis, but Israel is preventing them from doing so. United, united — but without Arabs.

The mass arrests in Jerusalem that aroused no interest in Israel, the settlers’ invasion of Arab neighborhoods with the support of the government and courts, the criminal neglect for which the city is responsible — all this will have a price.

How long will they see their children afraid to leave their homes for fear of being attacked by hooligans in the street? How long will they see their children arrested for every flying stone? How long will they watch the neglect in their neighborhoods?

How long will they consent to their tacit expulsion from the city? Between 1967 and 2013, Israel revoked the residency status of 14,309 Palestinians in Jerusalem, with strange claims that don’t apply to any of its Jewish residents. Isn’t that apartheid?

And then terror will erupt. In response, drones will ply the skies of the Shoafat refugee camp, there will be killings in the streets of Azariyeh and targeted assassinations in Beit Hanina, and another separation barrier will be built between the two parts of the city, just to be on the safe side. With a nationalist mayor, a violent police force and a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, nothing is more certain.

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