Jerusalem Day

by Ruth Tenne

Jerusalem Day was declared a national  holiday by the State of Israel on the 12th May 1968 in celebration of  the “liberation” of East Jerusalem and the  unification of the city in the aftermath of the 1967  Six-Day War. The medieval Maghrabi Quarter near the Jewish Wailing  Wall was demolished soon after, and its Palestinian  inhabitants were evicted in order to make way for an open space  for Jewish worshipers  [1]. To celebrate this occasion the victorious hymn  “Jerusalem of Gold” was written in glorification of the annexation of East Jerusalem and the reclaiming of the Western Wailing Wall .

In 1980 the Israeli Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, confirming Jerusalem’s status as the nation’s “eternal and indivisible capital”.  UN Security Council Resolution 478 stated thereafter that the Jerusalem Law was “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”. [2].   The Resolution instructed UN member-states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city – refusing to confer official status on Israel’s illegal act of annexation.

The UN position, however, did not deter Israel from its continued attempts to cleanse East Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants by the use of force and military orders.  The so-called “City of Gold”  turned into a ghettoised place with  rubble from demolished Palestinian houses, razed Palestinian neighbourhoods , desecrated Muslim graveyards, and  dispossessed homeless  families serving as testimony to Israel’s  underlying  aim of  “purifying”  the city of  its indigenous Palestinian population. According to the Head  of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – Jeff Halper –  only 11 percent of East Jerusalem land is available for Palestinian housing as result of Israel’s discriminatory policies which means  that  Jerusalemite Palestinians are virtually barred from 93 percent of the  municipality of  Jerusalem. The overall goal is to confine Palestinians to small enclaves in East Jerusalem, or to remove them from the city altogether – an action referred to by Israel as the “quiet transfer”.

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Derailing Veolia in the UK

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns are succeeding all around the world, and the boycott of Veolia is having an impact in France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Following on the heels of a successful four month campaign to boycott Connex as Melbourne’s rail provider in Australia, Ruth Tenne turns our attention to efforts to apply pressure on UK councils such as Camden to behave ethically and reject Veolia due to its direct involvement in building light-rail to link illegal Jewish settlements.

veoliagraffitionthewallIn his visit to Israel and the OPT in November 2008, the Foreign Secretary spoke out against settlement activity and has said on numerous occasions that continued settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office clearly states on its website that “The UK considers that Israeli settlement building anywhere in the OPTs is illegal under international law. This includes settlements in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank”. Yet, local authorities in Britain defy the declared policy of the FCO by employing Veolia – a multi-national French waste company. Veolia Environment is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium which is contracted to build a light rail tramway system linking Israel to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

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