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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

60 Minutes cover East Jerusalem, Silwan.

An incisive piece by 60 Minutes about the controversy in the Jerusalem neighborhood, Silwan. Hang in there till the end because the interview with Nir Barkat, the Jerusalem mayor, is worth seeing. Notice how Barkat and the settler leader from the Elad organization play a carefully crafted semantic game when being interviewed. Their answers, and their decisions, are always framed towards what is positive toward the Jewish people while remaining blind to the impact on Palestinians.

Here is the 60 minutes web-only portion about Beit Yonaton, the notorious Jewish settlement in Silwan. The Israeli high court ordered that Beit Yonaton be evacuated, as it is an illegal building, but state-paid security guards continue to protect the residents who refuse to leave. Bein Yonaton is one example of Israel's numerous paper triumphs, where a decision is made by the court, but the security and political arms of the government refuse to carry it out.

Another of the extra segments that didn't air on the program was about the new Jerusalem railway. Not covered in this segment is the fact that the train gives preference to Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem. Many train stations are available for Israeli settlers while only one station is located in a Palestinian-populated area. The railway wouldn't be a problem if it was built on the west side of the Green Line, but much of the line is built in occupied territory, in contravention of international law. Here's more from Diakonia (check out their site for extensive information on violations of international law as a result of this project):
Currently, the first phase of the Jerusalem light rail is under construction. The route of the first instalment of the train line will connect the settlements of Neve Ya’aqov and Pisgat Ze’ev, via the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shu’afat, to the West Jerusalem city center and neighbourhoods such as Bet haKerem. The new transportation system is likely to facilitate commuting from settlements north of Jerusalem, as well as from the settlements east of Jerusalem like Ma’aleh Adumim and those in the Jordan Valley. Upon completion of all the eight lines planned for this project, estimated for 2020, the new transportation network will effectively connect the settlements of north Jerusalem with the settlement of Gilo in southern Jerusalem, de facto integrating portions of the occupied territory with the territory of the State of Israel. The only planned stops that would directly serve Palestinians would be located in the area of Shu’afat.

Also, what does united mean? Throughout these videos you hear right-leaning Israelis refusing to accept any partitioning of Jerusalem because Jerusalem will remain 'united.' According to Webster, 'united' means 'made one' or refers to something produced by 'joint action.' I think what these politicians and settlers are calling for in Jerusalem would more appropriately be called ethnic homogeneity, ethnic cleansing, colonialism, apartheid -- not so much, unity.

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