Judaizing Jerusalem

by Stephen Lendman

July 6, 2010

The Middle East Monitor (MEM) covers significant regional issues and
events through its weekly newspaper and reports like Samira Quraishy’s
September 2009 Briefing Paper titled, "The Judaization of Jerusalem,"
discussing Israel’s "escalating campaign of land seizures, house
demolitions and eviction(s) of Palestinians."

Israeli scholars agree, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Professor Oren Yiftachel, in a 1999 paper titled "Ethnocracy: the
Politics of Judaizing Israel/Palestine," saying Israel is an ethnocratic
regime "enhanc(ing) a rule by, and for, a specific ethnos, and a
dominance of ethnicity over citizenship (by) facilitat(ing) the
expansion of one ethnic group over contested territory or polity." It
evolved around "the central Zionist (uni-ethnic) project of Judaizing
and de-Arabising Israel/Palestine, (and as a consequence undermining)
equal citizenship and popular sovereignty," reserving it solely for
Jews, exposing the myth of a democratic nation.

Hebrew University Professor Moshe Ma’oz, Ankara’s Bilkent University
Professor Jeremy Salt, Professor Norman Finkelstein, Professor James
Petras, and many other scholars agree that Israel pursued this policy
since 1967, planning it decades earlier, based on the Zionist notion of
dispossessing Arabs to make greater Israel an exclusive Jewish state.

Jerusalem is its epicenter, a religiously important city for Christians,
Muslims and Jews, today the scene of epic injustice and discrimination
of its Palestinian residents.

For Zionists, the city is politically important, as its historic
capital, national and religious center, as well as the symbol of
Judaism’s revival and prominence. For Christians, it’s where Jesus lived
and died, and for Muslims it’s their third holiest site (the Dome of
the Rock on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque) after Mecca’s Sacred
Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina.

After its 1967 annexation, East Jerusalem underwent legal and
bureaucratic changes to its physical, cultural and spiritual character
under Israel’s Judaization plan. Settlements were established and
expanded, at the expense of land expropriations, dispossessions, home
demolitions, the Separation Wall, and other draconian measures to
transform the city to an entirely Jewish one. As a result, Palestinian
culture and religious heritage are threatened by the establishment of
"facts on the ground," a process begun after the city’s annexation that
continues relentlessly to this day.

At the time, official annexation would have caused rupture or
confrontation with the international community, because of the city’s
symbolic, religious and historic importance. In addition, international
laws would have been hard to get around besides ideological differences
among Israeli officials. Further, direct annexation would have forced
the government to make all city inhabitants citizens, contrary to the
plan to Judaize the entire city

On the Six Day War’s final day, Israeli leaders ordered the demolition
of the Old City’s Moroccan Quarter, allowing for easier access to the
Western Wall. It left 650 residents homeless, many others killed, two
mosques destroyed along with other religious and cultural sites, and set
the tone for what continued.

Under military occupation, Israel transformed Jerusalem from a
multi-cultural, multi-religious city into a predominantly Jewish one
under exclusive Israeli control toward the final goal of making the
entire city exclusively Jewish – meaning Arabs had to go, voluntarily,
by dispossessions, or other means.

Thereafter, Israel manipulated city demographics in its favor toward
establishing a Greater Jerusalem by reinforced municipal boundaries –
separating Jerusalem from the West Bank by land seizures,
dispossessions, home demolitions, the Separation Wall, and a matrix of
restrictions over Palestinian residents in the Old City as well as 64
additional square kilometers from surrounding West Bank areas, affecting
28 villages inside the new municipal boundary. As a result, the
demographic balance shifted markedly to one predominantly Jewish.

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset introduced the Jerusalem Law, officially
annexing the city as Israel’s unified capital – a ceremonial move as
East Jerusalem residents were already under military occupation rule.

Yet on March 1, 1980, UN Security Council Resolution 465 declared that:

"all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character,
demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the
Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including
Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s
policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new
immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva)
violation….and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a
comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that
"Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East
Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and
social development (and) have been established in breach of
international law."

Throughout its history, Israel routinely defied all UN resolutions and
court rulings against its interests, knowing it can get away with it,
always with Washington’s backing. Instead, it’s intensified efforts to
annex East Jerusalem through continued settlement expansions on
expropriated land. For the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and Golan combined,
they’re home for a 500,000 Jewish population, growing at around 4 – 6%

Extremist groups spearhead it, supported generously by Washington, the
Jewish diaspora, and others, contributing billions of dollars annually
for Israeli occupation, militarism, and settlement expansions.

Through 2009, settlements covered over one-third of East Jerusalem land,
and another 30% is designated as "unplanned area" where little or no
development is allowed.

In 2009, OCHA reported that Palestinian construction is allowed only in
13% of East Jerusalem, provided required permits are issued. Because of
the bureaucratic nightmare getting them, a huge housing shortage exists,
exacerbated by regular home demolitions to provide more space for Jews.

Religious, cultural and archeological sites aren’t spared either to
accommodate them, Silwan a notable example. Occupied in 1967, Judaizing
followed to change its religious and demographic character, an
initiative promoted by ELAD (the Hebrew acronym for the City of David), a
Jewish organization wanting full control of the area, using extremist
measures to achieve it, including excavations destroying priceless

Ones below the Al-Aqsa Mosque continue. Others also to control the town
through more land ownership, Palestinian dispossessions, and destruction
of Islamic and Christian heritage sites.

In 2004, 88 Al Bustan neighborhood homes were demolished to create
King’s Garden, an archeological park located where King David
established his kingdom.

Islamic cemetery excavations also aroused anger, including converting
Bab al-Rahmad into recreational biblical gardens. So far, the cemetery
has lost 1,800 square meters on which new burials are prohibited, a
portion already converted into a park.

Ma’man Allah Cemetery is Jerusalem’s largest, reputed to hold the
remains of important Islamic figures, including Companions of Prophet
Muhammad and Muslim intellects and soldiers who fought the Crusaders.

Yet Israel intends a Museum of Tolerance there, turning it into a large
excavation site, over 300 skeletons removed, contrary to international
law. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, they were
desecrated – dumped into a single mass grave.

Worse still may await the Al-Aqsa Mosque because of excavations under
and around it, weakening its foundation, threatening its existence. In
2007, Israel began excavating a pathway from the Western Wall to the
compound, sparking Muslim outrage.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Restoration Committee,
established in 1956 to restore it and other Jerusalem holy sites, warned
that further excavations would imperil the structural integrity, most
seriously by the western tunnel (one of 60) near the Mosque.

Deputy Committee head, Ra’if Najm also said chemicals used to break up
rocks are causing more damage. As a result, the Security Council and
UNESCO demanded that Israel comply with international law, halting
further excavations and related operations. Israel didn’t respond.

Other excavations in the Old City and Silwan have also been damaging,
Adnan Al-Hussaini, special PA adviser on Jerusalem Affairs warning that
Israel is destroying Islamic antiquities, "replacing them with other

PA legislator Hatem Abdul Qader threatened an International Court of
Justice (ICJ) lawsuit to stop the looting. In early 2009, an Umayyad-era
artifact was stolen, an ancient stone, transferred to the Knesset’s
courtyard, Israel blocking demands to return it.

The Separation Wall, checkpoints, and other restrictions have also been
devastating, impeding Palestinian access to, in and around Jerusalem.
Yet prohibiting them from worshipping at Al-Aqsa and nearby mosques
violates Fourth Geneva, Christians wanting access to the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre and other religious sites also affected.

The extremist Netanyahu government exacerbates the problem, Palestine’s
Chief Justice, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamimi, expressing deep concern
about outlandish racist policies threatening "to cancel Arab identity."

On March 28, 2010, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported that he urged
Palestinians "to exert more efforts and unite in order to protect the
holy Al-Aqsa Mosque (by) defy(ing Jewish extremists) attempts to storm
the holy shrine," adding that Judaizing has been ongoing since 1967, in
calling for efforts to stop it.

PA Authority under Fatah

Shortly after assuming office, Abdul Qader, PA Minister for Jerusalem,
resigned in protest, saying inadequate funding defends Palestinian
interests in the city – for law suits, against land confiscations, home
demolitions, Israeli security force and settler violence, and the
destruction of the city’s religious, historical, cultural and
demographic character.

Final Comments

Throughout 43 years of colonization, displacement, land seizures, and
East Jerusalem annexation, Judaization continues relentlessly to
establish irreversible "facts on the ground (to) cancel Arab identity"
by making the entire city exclusively Jewish along with the West Bank’s
most valued areas.

MEM supports efforts to stop it and demands accountability. "The Israeli
authorities and settlers who impede the civil liberties of the rightful
Palestinian owners should be brought (before) an open and fair court of
law," to halt Israeli lawlessness, ensure holy, historic Muslim sites
are protected, preserved and restored, and to defend their right to a
sovereign state, East Jerusalem its capital, or a one-state solution for

Israel will react violently, viciously, and illegally against it, its
customary behavior as a rapacious occupier, defying the rule of law in
pursuit of a Greater Israel and regional dominance, partnered with
Washington in its global imperial agenda, threatening all humanity
unless stopped.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive
Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US
Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are
archived for easy listening.


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