Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Marching to Jerusalem

by SARAH MARUSEK

46 years ago this month, Israel seized East Jerusalem, the home of many significant holy sites for Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as the proposed capital for any future Palestinian state. Since then, Israel has increasingly undertaken measures, particularly the placing of restrictions on Palestinian movement, the construction of a separation wall, the confiscation of Palestinian land, and the building of Jewish-only settlements, that are threatening to push out the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem entirely.

Indeed, according to a report issued last December by the International Crisis Group, Jerusalem “no longer is the city it was” even “in 2000, when Israelis and Palestinians first negotiated its fate.” And this was the case despite the fact that many countries and international institutions have frequently criticized the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, and the UN has deemed some of the above measures against international law.

In the absence of any international effort to actually stop Israel’s attempt to “change facts on the ground” in the holy city, and during a time when Palestinians are once again increasingly mobilizing through nonviolent political actions, such as the recent mass prisoner hunger strikes, weekly demonstrations against the separation wall, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, many thousands of Palestinians are mobilizing today in a Global March to Jerusalem to draw attention to the continued violations against East Jerusalem and its people. Palestinians will assemble in Beit Hanoun, the nearest point possible to Jerusalem in Gaza, to hold a peaceful rally, and nonviolent demonstrations will also take place in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank, as well as in Cairo, the Jordan Valley, and many major cities around the world.

Unfortunately many Americans will not learn about these peaceful protests today unless they turn violent, even though some solidarity demonstrations are also happening here in the US. And even if Americans do learn about the protests, it may take a documentary film (and possibly even an academy award nomination) to really communicate to them the context for why these protests are happening at all – about what the Israeli occupation really means for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Back in 2011, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at the UN issued a worrying report that Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem were becoming increasingly vulnerable.[1] And two years later, the situation has deteriorated even more.

Palestinians cannot move freely in Jerusalem, or between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Numerous checkpoints either deny them entry or delay their passage from one place to another, limiting their access to health and educational services, separating their families, and threatening their livelihoods. Indeed Palestinians from the West Bank, both Christian and Muslim alike,  must have permits to even access places of worship. And Israel grants few permits, often completely denying them to men under the age of 40, as was the case during Ramadan last year, preventing many Palestinian males the freedom to pray at one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. And earlier this year the PLO accused Israel of only issuing 30 to 40 per cent of the permits requested by West Bank-based Palestinian Christians hoping to spend Easter in Jerusalem.

Israel’s continued construction of the separation wall further limits Palestinian mobility, as well as isolates the East Jerusalem economy. A recent report by the UN blamed Israeli “segregation policies” for causing deep economic isolation leaving more than 80 percent of Palestinian children living in poverty. According to the human rights organization B’Tselem, 8.5% of the West Bank area (including Jerusalem) was seized during the construction of the separation wall, which began in 2002. Although the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the UN, declared in 2004 that construction of the wall must cease, and demanded that those sections located in the occupied territories be dismantled, construction of the wall continues to this day.

The Israeli authorities also regularly demolish Palestinian homes and businesses on the pretext of rules and regulations, but in reality it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to get permission to build or register anything, even when existing homes have been lived in for many years. Despite the massive need to build new homes for Palestinians, only 13 percent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction, and much of this area is already built-up. Furthermore, the number of permits that Israel grants each year is well below Palestinians’ extraordinarily high demand for housing.

These kinds of bureaucratic measures often reify the physical structures of occupation that isolate East Jerusalem, making life for Palestinians in the city unbearable. For example, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are defined as permanent residents, but only if they can prove that their “center of life” lies within either West Jerusalem or Israel. And according to the OCHA report, the application process for those Palestinians who seek to unify their families is now almost impossible to successfully complete.

And then, of course, there are the illegal settlements. Over one third of the area within the extended boundary of East Jerusalem has been appropriated for settlements (remember this is in comparison to the 13 per cent approved for Palestinians). Approximately 180,000 Jewish settlers are living in settlements today, and Israel has plans to continue building settlements in East Jerusalem, despite international condemnation.

On top of all this oppression, extremist settlers regularly carry out “price tag” attacks against Palestinians, including their Christian and Islamic holy sites, supposedly in retaliation for Israeli government policies that are unpopular with the settler population. Only last Friday, settlers attacked the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem by spraying graffiti on its walls with anti-Christian slogans like “Christians are monkeys” and “Christians are slaves.” Israeli police forces also continue arresting politically active Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including women and children, many of who are being held in indefinite detention without charge. Dozens have been arrested in the last month alone.

These are just some of the characteristics of occupation that Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have to endure, and help to explain why so many Palestinians are symbolically marching to Jerusalem today. Similar to the recent wave of Arab Uprisings, this is as much about politics as about human dignity. But only in this case if change is ever to be realized, then the world has to do more than issue statements and reports about ending the occupation of a city that is so important to our shared history that it should be for us all.

Sarah Marusek earned her PhD in social science from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and is currently a traveling faculty member with SIT Study Abroad. She is also a member of International Executive Committee of the Global March to Jerusalem

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail