Look Who Wants to Divide Jerusalem Now

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that great defender of a 'unified' city, is having second thoughts.

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
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A Palestinian in Silwan, East Jerusalem.
A Palestinian in Silwan, East Jerusalem.Credit: Olivier Fittousi
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

I thought I was confused, that I didn’t hear correctly. The great patriots, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ze’ev Elkin and Gilad Erdan, who don’t go to bed at night before praying for a unified, undivided, greater Jerusalem, are now proposing to dissect it, divide it and return it 48 years back in time, by means of 180 concrete blocks and checkpoints set up at the Arab neighborhoods’ entrances. Netanyahu is dividing Jerusalem.

This was a pioneer. A city that is the future. What happens in it today, will happen to us all tomorrow. Jerusalem is the microcosm of everything that we’ve been going through in the last 48 years since the Six-Day War – victory, occupation, euphoria, radicalization and madness.

As soon as the Six-Day War was over Moshe Dayan appointed a committee to set Jerusalem’s borders. He did not appoint urban, historic and geographic experts but three generals who were deputies only to God – Chaim Herzog, Shlomo Lahat and Rehavam Zeevi. They drafted an insane map, following which Israel annexed to Jerusalem not only the Old City within the walls, and not only the Jordanian part of the city outside the walls (6,000 dunams), but another 64,000 dunams – expansive West Bank territories which had never been part of Jerusalem in history. They consisted of 28 villages whose population today numbers 330,000 – all of whom have blue (Israeli) ID cards and make up 35 percent of the city’s population. This is a certain recipe for an explosion.

Israel’s discrimination against them cries out to heaven. The Arab neighborhoods close to the western city are shabby and neglected due to the city’s failure to allocate resources to them. But this is nothing compared to the further neighborhoods that have no local leadership or government, no municipal supervision, no police, no sanitation services, no sewage system, no roads and no construction laws.

As far as Netanyahu, Elkin and Erdan are concerned, this is OK. The Arabs aren’t human beings anyway, and should be grateful for being allowed to breathe. The three even pin the latest terror wave on “incitement.” As far as they’re concerned, it has no reason.

When Uri Ariel and his wacky pals provocatively go to Temple Mount, to blow up the little stability that remains – that’s incitement. Settling 15 (!) messianic organizations in the Old City, which occupy themselves with practicing animal sacrifice in the Temple that will be built “soon, in our days” on the ruins of Al-Aqsa Mosque – that’s incitement. The far-right religious Ateret Cohanim organization’s making the lives of the Muslim quarter’s residents a misery and financing dozens of families who moved into the quarter’s center – that’s incitement. Setting up protected compounds of ultra-fanatic Jews in the heart of the Arab neighborhoods in the east of the city – that’s incitement. These Jews daily humiliate and harass the fathers and mothers of the youngsters who live in complete despair, squalor and wretchedness – that’s incitement. These youngsters live under oppression, with no future and no chance of attaining an independent state of their own, which will restore their dignity, which is more important to them than food or career.

The fact that this isn’t an organized uprising, but individual assailants who grabbed a knife or screwdriver and went on a vengeance and suicide quest, proves the intensity of the despair they live – and die – in.

But Netanyahu speaks of “incitement.” He has specialized in “managing the conflict,” which is a code name for sabotaging any hope and any attempt to conduct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. This way he can continue building in the territories while conducting a lie campaign for the Americans’ benefit. He simply won’t pay the price of peace, which is renouncing territories in the West Bank and dividing Jerusalem – Arab neighborhoods to the Arabs, Jewish neighborhoods to the Jews. He does all this in the belief that the Palestinians will keep quiet, swallow it and get used to it, because they’re not really human beings anyway.

But now the big balloon has burst in his face and he, responding hysterically as usual, is dividing Jerusalem.

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