Sheikh Jarrach: Israeli opinion


b”h

Sheikh Jarrach, an area in East Jerusalem.

No, Jerusalem is still one for me, it just has its Western and Eastern parts as each town normally has. And in one of those parts of this so beautiful and controversial town, there is a new conflict about to create a new way of thinking.

It’s about the quarter of Sheikh Jarrah, mostly inhabited by Israeli citizens of Palestinian (Arab) origin; it’s about documents from obviously before the creation of the state owned by Jews, either residents or former residents or just document owners; and it’s about people who use the documents to claim their territory rights and not only the rights, but also follow a quite successful policy of implanting inhabitants quite unfittin to that area in the midst of a closed-in-itself neighbourhood. A senseless affair with one goal in mind – to make the Arab citizens leave the area.And in the case of 3 Sheikh Jarrah families, it’s also about throwing families out who obviously inhabit their houses since the 1950ies.

Well, no matter how the law situation is like. It strongly smells injust, it smells politically tricky and clever, it smells like some sort of legal misuse of law in the backs of innocent families.

Here an article about the young people from Israel protesting there since months.

(from coteret.com)

Tact in Sheikh Jarrah

The Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators are criticized from the right and the left over the absence of Israeli flags at their demonstrations. But when you look at their considerations they are commendable.

Nili Osherov, Ynet, April 3 2010 [Hebrew original here]

“Why don’t you wave the Israeli flag?” the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators are challenged again and again. The right wing in all of its stripes sees it as further proof of the separatism, alienation and self-hate with which the radical left is inflicted. The new Israeli left (or in a word, the right) begs: “Please wave it. Sheikh Jarrah is a good ‘case’ that could win the sympathy of the Israeli public. If only you waved the Israeli flag the whole nation would be with you.”Is that wise advice? I am afraid that the left of Sheikh Jarrah will not sweep up the Israeli nation even if it wraps itself in national flags from head to toe and decorates itself with pictures of Israel’s chiefs of staff and presidents through the ages. If the left wants the sympathy of the people of Israel I would recommend it wave slogans such as “Jerusalem is our united capital for ever and ever” or “death to the Arabs.” That would do the job better.

But since I was there, and since I know the people well enough to draw a typical profile of a Sheikh Jarrah demonstrator defined as a radical left wing activist (or simply: the true left), I have a clear answer why the Israeli flag has not been waved there, and it has one word: tact. Sheikh Jarrah, just like the nonviolent protests at Bil’in and Ni’lin, just like organizations such as Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace, are part of a process being led by young Israelis today (and other young people like them on the Palestinian side), that could be the start of the end of the violent conflict in our area.

I call these young people part of the “generation of confusion.” On the one hand, they were raised on the accepted Zionist ethos that still reigns almost exclusively in the education system, and upon which my generation was also raised of course, and which we received directly from our parents who survived the Holocaust and founded Israel. On the other hand, they began hearing, whether at home or in other social and educational settings, other alternatives to the Zionist narrative.

And on yet the other hand, growing up between two intifadas and exploding buses contributed to further demonizing the Palestinians. And all this came in the context of the continuing occupation and the active role they were forced to play in it as soldiers-storm troopers, which aroused their feelings of revulsion and the sense of urgency to end it (without even asking who started and why).

A hopeless war over values

Out of that confusion is rising, amazingly although still tentatively and quietly, a movement of repair and reconciliation. These young people understand that the endless cycle of violence created by the “kill or be killed” mentality has to simply be severed. Sheikh Jarrah is a symbol to them, a sort of a local “committee of truth and reconciliation,” from which more committees may grow in more and more places. They are neither fanatics nor blind. They know this is not a one-sided story of perpetrators and victims. They are not blaming the forefathers of Zionism, the founders of Israel nor — thank God — us, their parents, for everything.

But in the present situation, in the current balance of power between us and the Palestinians, they understand who is the weak side and who is obligated to show generosity, concessions and the willingness to swallow their pride and national honor. The Israeli flags seen today in Sheikh Jarrah are the ones waved defiantly on the homes of the settlers who heartlessly took over the Palestinian homes.

Therefore, when the left wing demonstrators come to Sheikh Jarrah, to the place that symbolizes the continuing injustice to the Palestinians, they have a minimum measure of tact, that quality that does not necessarily characterize the common Israeli, not to wave in the faces of their partners the Israeli flag, that so completely represents the Zionist ethos.

These young people understand that today the Palestinians are the weak and victimized side (despite the terror attacks and the Qassam rockets) whereas the strong and sovereign state of Israel has the power. Therefore if they really want to repair, they must play down symbols of power and injustice such as the flag, even if it also symbolizes to them and to their people a luminous side of a glorious national and cultural heritage.

For the humanist secular young person today Israel is a scary place. The religious-messianic childbearing policy of the religious-right wing-Orthodox public, which is completely disconnected from any rational consideration of personal resources or national or natural resources, is going to turn this group of young people within a few years into a minority that will collapse under the economic burden. Simultaneously, the rise of fanaticism and nationalism as a result of the same demographic trend will make ending the conflict even harder.

Their choice to stay here and to fight an almost hopeless battle for the values of peace and humanism is commendable. Sometimes I want to ask their forgiveness for the impossible country we gave them. They do not have to wave the Israeli flag anywhere. Each one of them is to me a waving flag of humanism, compassion and true loyalty to their country and people. “To the glory of the state of Israel” — nobody deserves that phrase more than they do, even if it gives them the creeps.

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1 Comment

  1. reneedavies said,

    November 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    “Sometimes I want to ask their forgiveness for the impossible country we gave them. They do not have to wave the Israeli flag anywhere. Each one of them is to me a waving flag of humanism, compassion and true loyalty to their country and people. “To the glory of the state of Israel” — nobody deserves that phrase more than they do, even if it gives them the creeps.”

    Incredible collection of words. I enjoyed reading some of your entries.


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