Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tension bubbles over in Silwan

Things are heating up in Silwan.  The situation is always bad in Palestine, it's always bad for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and there are times when resistance ramps up.  When a settler security guard, whose salary is paid by the Israeli government but lives as a civilian in the settlement, kills two Palestinians -- it provides an impetus, a spark for all of the anger stemming from the daily oppression and humiliation that East Jerusalemites face.  

A couple indispensable resources:

Joseph Dana's reporting from Silwan.  If nothing else, follow that link to see more pictures like this. 

Phillip Weiss reporting from Jerusalem, with quotes from Silwan residents.

Joel Beinin at the Middle East Report Online shares some important history about the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan

The poor Palestinians of East Jerusalem have few assured human or civil rights. Anyone may do anything to them at any time, and they have little recourse. They can be thrown out of property they legally purchased after 1948, and made to live in tents in front of their former residences; and then the tents can be demolished by Israeli police. Aggressive, larcenous Jewish squatters continually attempt to effect a slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, using fraud and sometimes force.
The 55,000 Palestinians of the Silwan area (formerly a village but now annexed to Jerusalem) are mad as hell and not going to take it any more. Three hundred militant settlers have been inserted in their midst on the basis of some fable that a legendary King David dwelled there in the 10th century BC (archeology has found Jerusalem largely uninhabited in that period and has never found firm evidence of a Jewish kingdom during that era or even that a David or Solomon existed; they are not mentioned in contemporary Assyrian sources).
It is as though hundreds of armed men showed up in front of your house and demanded you take your family and leave and give it to them because their ancestor was a king and he is buried deep under its foundations. But you have the same ancestors that they do! (Jerusalem was founded some 5000 years ago by the common ancestors of most Jews and Palestinians).
The Palestinians started throwing stones at the squatters on some provocation. But the squatters have private armed security guards (an increasing tendency worldwide for colonial ventures). One of the guards opened fire. The accounts are murky, but the guard appears to have killed two innocent bystanders, one a Palestinian father of five who was driving by. The private guard wounded another Palestinian, who appears to have been fleeing him.
And to get a sense of the mood in Silwan, this is a worthwhile video.  These people aren't animals.  They have been treated like animals for decades, and they are angry.  Wouldn't you be?  (Oh, and the man who murdered the two Palestinians, he has already been released from custody).  


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