Jerusalem violence exposes fundamental injustice of occupation

BARIA ALAMUDDIN

April 18, 2022

Israeli border police chase Palestinian youths in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 17, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabili / AFP)

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With scenes of shocking brutality, Israel has yet again succeeded in setting Jerusalem ablaze, with provocatively heavy-handed policing around Al-Aqsa Mosque at a time when this holy city is the focus of worship for festivals of three global faiths.

With well over 150 Palestinians injured, these disproportionately one-sided casualties demonstrate that Israel massively overhyped a threat that scarcely existed in the first place, on a day of worship for the holiest Muslim month of the year that coincided with Easter and the Jewish Passover. Israeli forces even obstructed the arrival of ambulances to carry away the casualties. Frail and elderly worshippers were assaulted and arrested for exercising their right to pray at Islam’s third-holiest site.

Attacks on worshippers are not merely a local Palestinian concern, but a scandal that arouses the anger of Muslims, Christians and the civilized world — while also wronging Jews who seek to practice their faith in peace and amicably coexist with non-Jewish neighbors.  

Zionist extremists have been raising tensions further with a campaign to conduct animal sacrifices at this holy site, an offensively provocative move widely described as a “direct assault” upon Muslims. This comes after months of extremist settlers aggressively seeking to increase their access to the site, which they previously had not been allowed to approach.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, settlers have continued to violently reinforce their presence and forcibly steal homes in Palestinian areas, particularly in hotly contested places such as  Silwan. The Israeli court system works overtime to legitimize injustice, theft, apartheid and state terrorism, as entire districts are stripped of their Arab identity and Palestinians are squeezed and throttled out of existence in their own capital city.

All this represents a highly embarrassing slap in the face for some Arab leaders, coming so soon after the Negev summit at which the case was made that normalization was good for the region. It also exposes the lie advanced by Israeli hawks that normalization could be an alternative to actual peace with the Palestinians, and that the Arab world would miraculously forget about Palestine. These latest incidents come as a reminder to all those with a conscience and a sense of empathy that Israel still behaves exactly as Israel always has done.

Tehran and its allies are already exploiting these events for all they are worth. Iran’s Foreign Ministry divisively accused Arab states of paving the way for Israeli “crimes” through “traitorous” diplomatic outreach. Daesh and Al-Qaeda propagandists have been urging their supporters to engage in massive incitement around this issue, as a cynical means of reviving their flagging fortunes.

Recent global events are reviving awareness — even among many Israelis — that occupation is essentially brutal and unjust, and comes with an incalculable cost to innocent civilians.

Baria Alamuddin

Palestine is an open wound, allowed to fester in an atmosphere of manifest injustice and oppression. In a sick environment there will always be sick individuals who engage in sick acts, such as a 15-year-old girl stabbing an Israeli man in Haifa last week. Children should be growing up innocent of political violence and religious hatred. Apartheid and occupation are the culprits when even little girls become embroiled in such horrors. And no, Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, such actions do not grant you the right to dehumanize all Palestinians as “terrorists” who deserve to be confronted with naked violence and collective punishment.

Donald Trump sought to fundamentally change the contours of the Palestinian issue with measures that supposedly asserted Israeli rights over all Jerusalem, the Golan, and much of the West Bank, particularly the Jordan Valley. Instead of pushing back against these flagrant violations of international law, the Biden administration has ignored Palestine and surrendered the initiative to Israel’s far right, which believes it can continue encroaching throughout the entirety of historical Palestine, and ultimately push the Palestinians into the sea, or at least across the border into Jordan and Egypt.

Within Israel’s leadership there are those who have embraced these militarized escalations as a means of provoking retaliatory violence, with a view to delegitimizing the Palestinian cause and stealing more land, while consolidating apartheid.

However, for those Israelis who don’t want to exist in a permanent state of war, this must be a wake-up call to the fact that fundamental transformations in behavior and attitude are required if they are to guarantee their long-term security, and if they don’t want to further sabotage Israel’s reputation in the eyes of the world.

This is particularly true as increasing numbers of Western politicians are willing to call out Israeli state terrorism, despite the vicious onslaught of accusations of antisemitism unleashed against anybody who dares to mention the Palestinian cause.

Recent global events are reviving awareness — even among many Israelis — that occupation is essentially brutal and unjust, and comes with an incalculable cost to innocent civilians.

It is obvious to everyone that the Russian occupation of Ukraine will end in failure, and probably represents the beginning of the end of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Likewise, Iran’s occupation of Arab states only increases Arab hatred toward Tehran’s Hezbollah, Hashd and Houthi puppets, and can only end with their eventual eradication.

After 75 years, Palestinians are no less willing to fight for their eternally just cause and their rights to their land. This will be no less true in 175 or 1,075 years.

Conscientious, educated and farsighted Israelis realize that their illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the indefinite, unjust suppression of Palestinian rights necessarily corrupts and discredits Israelis themselves. As long as they seek to steal the entirety of historical Palestine, they risk ultimately ending up with nothing.

• Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view

source https://www.arabnews.com/node/2065211

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