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Eviction: No Easter in Occupied Jerusalem

Icon of the Crucifixion, 16th century, by Theophanes the Cretan – Public Domain

For adherents of the Orthodox faith tradition, today is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus Christ, the Palestinian Jew, was crucified on Mt. Golgotha.

While the vast majority of the world’s Christians use the Gregorian calendar to celebrate Christmas and Easter, Eastern Christianity, more commonly known as Greek, Russian, Armenian, Syriac, Antiochian-Orthodox, celebrate these major Christian feasts using the Julian Calendar.

And, while the international Orthodox Christian community will celebrate a triumphant Easter Sunday On April 2, 2021, Jerusalem and Palestine’s Orthodox community will have to endure another Easter of occupation, xenophobia, evictions, and malevolent policies of an Israeli regime that has gone into overdrive in its racist and hateful policies of unabated violence and hateful rhetoric that has been orchestrated, condoned, and abetted by Israel’s Prime Minister, its Knesset, its military, and its blatantly racist judiciary system.

To Christian Arabs, Juma’a (Friday as well as week) Al Hazeene (sorrowful, mournful, somber, woeful) Friday/Week has a dual meaning: the week of grieving, and the Friday of pain and suffering.

To Palestinian Christians and Muslims every single hour, of every single day, of every single week, of every single month, of every single year, now going on for 54 years, are hours, days, weeks, months, and years of pain, humiliation, and suffering.

You’d think that those who suffered the heinously grievous misery of Nazi Germany would not do unto others what has been done unto them.

Not so.

Perpetrated by a pack of racist Israeli politicians, settlers, army, and judiciary, Israel’s determination to cleanse Jerusalem and Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants is a systemic policy intended to create an ethnically pure, Jewish citizenry, sans the pesky “Arabs.”

For over a week now Muslim Palestinians have not been allowed to celebrate the Iftar (breaking the Ramadan fast at dusk) at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, as they have done in the past. They have also been denied access to the Al Aqsa mosque and its compound.

So much for religious freedom in “The only Democracy in the Middle East.”

Add insult to injury, Muslim celebrants were attacked by hoards of fanatic Jewish Settlers. Shouting “Death to Arabs” and egged on and protected by Nazi/SS-like Israeli border police, the mostly young Muslim Ramadan celebrants were mauled, shot at, and harassed by a combined mob of violent settlers and police.

In one night of such violence 120 Palestinians were injured, with 20 seriously hospitalized victims, and over 50 arrested.

One Israeli politician remarked that Arabs (Palestinians) should be burned (“Burn them”), while others, on previous occasions, have called for dropping a nuclear weapon over Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, with one  xenophobic Israeli urging his government to “kill them all.”

And this from a government that reminds us on very occasion not To Forget the crematoriums.

Chanted on every occasion, “Death to Arabs” has become a slogan of Netanyahu’s government, a chant that is repeatedly uttered by Israelis – even, and especially, and for years now, at soccer games and public gatherings.

To the vast majority of Israelis, Arabs are pesky “cockroaches, jackals, parasites, dirty, scum, filthy” entities to be sanitized, killed and disposed of as one would dispose garbage.  Israeli sentiments towards Arabs in general (Emiratis, Saudis, and the whole passel of Sheikdoms and fiefdoms) and Palestinians in particular, is best summarized by former Member of the Israeli Knesset’s August 5, 2020 abhorrent xenophobically racist comment after the tragic 2020 Beirut Port blast  that ripped through Lebanon’s capital during which over 150 were killed and some 4,000 maimed and missing. Moshe Feiglin hailed the horrible blast a “gift from God,” and posted the following  on his Facebook: “Today is Tu B’Av, a day of joy, and a true and huge thank you to G-d and all the geniuses and heroes really (!) who organized for us this wonderful celebration in honor of the day of love.” Further, claiming that the “blast was just in time for the Jewish festival.”

You’d think that there would have been an outcry by EU countries and the U.S. at such blatantly racist rhetoric.

And Feiglin’s “G-d” must have cowered somewhere in the celestial sphere, ashamed at how His Chosen have institutionalized hatred and violence. To their credit, many voices of conscience in the world Jewish community condemned Feiglin’s statement.

Today is Juma’a al Hzeene, Good Friday, a day of earnest contemplation and reckoning of one’s shortcomings. And today in Palestine is a day of deep mourning, a mourning for Christians and Muslims. And this Sunday, instead of being a day of celebrating the triumphant resurrection of The Christ, it is a day of doleful mourning for 16 Palestinian Jerusalem families, a total of 195 destitute human beings, including 70 innocent and helpless Palestinian children who will be forcefully evicted from their homes by a racist Israeli government bent on ethnically cleansing Palestine of its defenseless citizens.

Kairos, a Palestinian Christian ecumenical movement, has appealed to his Holiness Pope Francis and the United Nations “to intervene in the ‘imminent risk of forced displacement.’”

I doubt that either Pope Francis or UN Secretary General António Gutterres will heed this plea – the first will, at best, give lip service, and the second is the undertaker whose primary responsibility is to cater to the powerful nations who run this world.

For more information on this policy of ethnic cleansing the reader is urged to read Jeff Wright’s April 26, 2021 column (Palestinians hope to stop Easter day evictions in Jerusalem) in Phillip Weiss’ Mondoweiss. Quoting Special UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk:  “These evictions are extremely alarming. And appear to be a part of a broader pattern of forcing Jerusalemite Palestinian families from their homes to clear the way for more illegal settlement. Time is running short for these orders to be reversed.”

In the week leading up to Easter Sunday John the Baptist was beheaded at the whim of Salome and her mother. Herod thought nothing of this bedraggled prophet.

In the same manner, leading up to this Easter Sunday, Israel’s brutality and ethnic cleansing have been deliberately obscured by the media. In the aftermath of recent events and expose’s and calls for accountability by Human Rights Groups, If Not Now,  and other voices of conscience in the world Jewish Community, some 367 CongressWimps have endorsed legislation in support of Israel and its most gross violations of human rights.

Israel’s plan to evict Palestinians on April 2, 2021, the day these powerless Palestinians were to have celebrated Easter Sunday with joyous familial festivities, is a most sinister act of human depravity.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist. halabys7181@outlook.com

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