The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 22.1.2010

The biggest protest to date in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood (350 people strong). The police riot again, 22 of our friends arrested:

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From the Belly of the Beast: An Inside look into the Israeli Justice System

Looking mighty dangerous from where I'm standing..

“Sorry baby, I won’t be able to make it tonight, I’m in the police van.” A sentence every Israeli pro-Palestinian activist will utter soon enough, just as I have, this Friday afternoon. Already 70 activists have been wrongfully arrested during the weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah, under the charges that we riot, conduct unlicensed demonstrations and assault officers.

Demonstrating in Israel 2010
Our day started at Al-Ma’asara village, where the army has escalated its repression of the local popular struggle [1,2]. Fortunately, this week’s demonstration was as calm as a demonstration can be, when you’re surrounded by hostile armed forces, and we were relieved that there were no incidents out of the ordinary occupation. (Unfortunately, the one week I don’t go to Bil’in, an escalation occurs, and I wasn’t there alongside my friends.) The protest was kept short and we all hopped in the cars to get to Sheikh Jarrah.

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This is what the Only Democracy in the Middle East Looks Like

This Friday, International Human Rights Day was marked for the first time in Israel. In Tel-Aviv, some 5000 people marched in a general human-rights march. It was a quiet event that was covered very favorably and widely by the press. What wasn’t being covered by the press? The second March to Sheikh Jarrah, which ended up with 24 arrests and one demonstrator in the hospital.

Putting Sheik Jarrah in Context
In 1875- Ottoman times- the Committee of the Sephardic Ethnic Group bought these lands. There was a small Jewish community living there until they gradually started fleeing, during the violence, in the area, during the 1920’s and 30’s and up until 1948. From 1948 to 1967, the land was under Jordanian control. At that time, 28 Palestinian refugee families were given lodging on this land by the Jordanian government, under the condition that they give up their UNRWA benefits and pay symbolic rent, for three years, by which time the houses will be passed under their names. The last part never happened.

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Untermenschen

Palestine 305This is Jana Hannoun. I met her after a Palestine Literature Festival event at the British Council in occupied east Jerusalem. We were at the British Council because our original venue, the Palestine National Theatre, had been closed down by the Israeli occupiers. The British Council is just down the road from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where Jana lived, and which Israel wants to Judaize.

At five o clock in the morning on August 2nd, the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families were physically thrown out of their homes by Zionist troops. 53 people, including 19 children, were made homeless, and their toys and clothes were strewn in the street. They were made homeless because they are members of the wrong ethnic group – because they are Arabs, the natives of Palestine, and not invading Jews. Their homes were immediately occupied by foreign settlers.

This, of course, is fascism. Because of a myth of national origin (and it is a myth – the vast majority of Jews originate from eastern Europe and north Africa, not from Palestine, not even two thousand years ago), the Canaanite-Arab Palestinians are designated untermenschen to be driven out. The Sheikh Jarrah families have experienced this before, as they are refugees from Haifa and west Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed by Zionist terrorist militias in 1948. The UN built homes for them in east Jerusalem after 1948, and that half of the city fell too in 1967. In this report, Jana is interviewed. More videos of the theft can be viewed here.

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