Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Push-Button Terminology

I will not argue with, counter, disprove or negate the content of this piece.

I will but simply highlight for you all the push-button terms in it that are intended to set off the alarm bells for liberals, sending them into harrowing concern, nervous tension and igniting under them hate and derision. Each one of them could have been written differently, less contentiously, but the author(s) had a specific goal in mind.

We are Israel's largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid

Hagai El-Ad

The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end

Hagai El-Ad is executive director of B’Tselem

Israel’s controversial separation barrier at the Qalandia crossing between the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, December 2020. 

Tue 12 Jan 2021 

One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only: the Jewish people. Yet half of those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Palestinian. The chasm between these lived realities fills the air, bleeds, is everywhere on this land.

I am not simply referring to official statements spelling this out – and there are plenty, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion in 2019 that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, or the “nation state” basic law enshrining “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value”. What I am trying to get at is a deeper sense of people as desirable or undesirable, and an understanding about my country that I have been gradually exposed to since the day I was born in Haifa. Now, it is a realisation that can no longer be avoided.

Although there is demographic parity between the two peoples living here, life is managed so that only one half enjoy the vast majority of political power, land resources, rights, freedoms and protections. It is quite a feat to maintain such disfranchisement. Even more so, to successfully market it as a democracy (inside the “green line” – the 1949 armistice line), one to which a temporary occupation is attached. In fact, one government rules everyone and everything between the river and the sea, following the same organising principle everywhere under its control, working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people – Jews – over another – Palestinians. This is apartheid.

There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank. Separated by the different personal statuses allotted to them, and by the many variations of inferiority Israel subjects them to, Palestinians living under Israel’s rule are united by all being unequal.

Unlike South African apartheid, the application of our version of it – apartheid 2.0, if you will – avoids certain kinds of ugliness. You won’t find “whites only” signs on benches. Here, “protecting the Jewish character” of a community – or of the state itself – is one of the thinly veiled euphemisms deployed to try to obscure the truth. Yet the essence is the same. That Israel’s definitions do not depend on skin colour make no material difference: it is the supremacist reality which is the heart of the matter – and which must be defeated.

Until the passage of the nation state law, the key lesson Israel seemed to have learned from how South Africa’s apartheid ended was to avoid too-explicit statements and laws. These can risk bringing about moral judgments – and eventually, heaven forbid, real consequences. Instead, the patient, quiet, and gradual accumulation of discriminatory practices tends to prevent repercussions from the international community, especially if one is willing to provide lip service to its norms and expectations.

This is how Jewish supremacy on both sides of the green line is accomplished and applied.

We demographically engineer the composition of the population by working to increase the number of Jews and limit the number of Palestinians. We allow for Jewish migration – with automatic citizenship – to anywhere Israel controls. For Palestinians, the opposite is true: they cannot acquire personal status anywhere Israel controls – even if their family is from here.

We engineer power through the allocation – or denial – of political rights. All Jewish citizens get to vote (and all Jews can become citizens), but less than a quarter of the Palestinians under Israel’s rule have citizenship and can thus vote. On 23 March, when Israelis go and vote for the fourth time in two years, it will not be a “celebration of democracy” – as elections are often referred to. Rather, it will be yet another day in which disfranchised Palestinians watch as their future is determined by others.

We engineer land control by expropriating huge swaths of Palestinian land, keeping it off-limits for their development – or using it to build Jewish towns, neighbourhoods, and settlements. Inside the green line, we have been doing this since the state was established in 1948. In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, we have been doing this since the occupation began in 1967. The result is that Palestinian communities – anywhere between the river and the sea – face a reality of demolitions, displacement, impoverishment and overcrowding, while the same land resources are allocated for new Jewish development.

And we engineer – or rather, restrict – Palestinians’ movement. The majority, who are neither citizens nor residents, depend on Israeli permits and checkpoints to travel in and between one area and another, as well as to travel internationally. For the two million in the Gaza Strip travel restrictions are the most severe – this is not just a Bantustan, as Israel has made it one of the largest open-air prisons on Earth.

Haifa, my birth city, was a binational reality of demographic parity until 1948. Of some 70,000 Palestinians living in Haifa before the Nakba, less than a 10th were left afterwards. Almost 73 years have passed since then, and now Israel-Palestine is a binational reality of demographic parity. I was born here. I want – I intend – to stay. But I want – I demand – to live in a very different future.

The past is one of traumas and injustices. In the present, yet more injustices are constantly reproduced. The future must be radically different – a rejection of supremacy, built on a commitment to justice and our shared humanity. Calling things by their proper name – apartheid – is not a moment of despair: rather, it is a moment of moral clarity, a step on a long walk inspired by hope. See the reality for what it is, name it without flinching – and help bring about the realisation of a just future.

Again, the article errs, misrepresents, misleads, neglects history, twists facts and more. But that is so very obvious.

I decided to focuse this time on the messaging, the mind-prop.


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Update on Arab Construction in Shiloh Valley

I informed my readers of an Arab initiative of construction at the south-east edge of Shiloh Valley some 18 months ago.

An update.

Construction is continuing after a long legal battle.

The pinkish symbol and lower right marks the location:

Aerial photographs:

They are moving apace.

Their parcelization plan:

Our view

Their other projects:


"Ruin Upon the Temple Mount" Is A...?

"Ruin Upon the Temple Mount" Is A...?

a) reality, representing the lack of a Jewish Temple at Mount Moriah.

b) reference to the verse in Lamentations 5:18: that Mount Zion, that is, the Temple Mount, "which is desolate" will have "foxes walk upon it.”*

c) situation whereby the ruins of the site remain unexcavated by archaeologists to discover its important historical, cultural and religious significance.

or -

d) a song played by the Irish group, Dread Sovereign, who believe in "filthy cult old doom, black and heavy metal", who also don't mind displaying Hebrew in their graphics in the latest clip:

Yes, it is "d".

If anyone has the song, let me know. I know nothing about it but will try contacting the band.


* The understanding is, however, as is recorded in the Talmud's Tractate Makkot (24b), that if the prophecies of destruction have been fulfilled, so will be the ones by the prophet Zechariah about the Temple being rebuilt - as so:

The Gemara relates another incident involving those Sages. On another occasion they were ascending to Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple. When they arrived at Mount Scopus and saw the site of the Temple, they rent their garments in mourning, in keeping with halakhic practice. When they arrived at the Temple Mount, they saw a fox that emerged from the site of the Holy of Holies. They began weeping, and Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him: For what reason are you laughing? Rabbi Akiva said to them: For what reason are you weeping? They said to him: This is the place concerning which it is written: “And the non-priest who approaches shall die” (Numbers 1:51), and now foxes walk in it; and shall we not weep?


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Three Fingers to the Left of the Tree and Down

Here is a picture that the late Miri Tzachi snapped while in a helicopter over Jerusalem's Old City:

You will notice at the bottom right-hand corner that I have added an arrow pointing to a tree just inside the Temple Mount wall and inbetween the wall and the Al Aqsa Mosque.


As I have posted before, during the 11 month period of September 1966 and August 1967, I studied at the Machon L'Madrichei Chutz La'Aretz program as a member of Betar. Guided by my own educational instructors, especially the late Nissan Teman (Chaim Fischgrund is to my right),

I quickly made contact with Emmanuel Hanegbi, Tzachi's father, and Dr. Israel Eldad. I began attending the once-weekly lecture series conducted by the Chugim Leumim at the basement of Ezra Yachin's Art Gallery at the corner of King David and Hess Streets. Topics were Uri Tzvi Greenberg Poetry, History of the Undergrounds, Zionist Thought and such. Shabbat services were at the Students' Minyan on Balfour Street. And then on to the Saturday night Melaveh Malka gatherings on Mount Zion.

Do not forget that at this time, all the stretch leading from the east edge of the Sultan Pool (where the traffic light is) up to the Jaffa Gate was No-Man's Land, blocked off with barbed-wire and tank barriers. 

While then Mt. Zion complex was in Israeli control, it was virtually an outpost. But it was a replacement for the lost holy sites inside the walled Old City and it was where David's Tomb was presumed to be.

After some food and drinks, a discussion and singing, we would ascend the minneret over the courtyard

and look out into the Old City.

The Temple Mount was clear and it was large, all lit up and couldn't be missed - but we were seeking out the Western Wall.

I was told my first time up at the top, "see that tree? raise up three fingers to the left and the Kotel is just down, out of sight".

And then the few who were up at the top starting shouting out at the top of their lungs:

"We are returning. We will be back!"

It was a bit electrifying. Nearly midnight and Jerusalem then in 1966 was an empty city at that time of night and our voices carried over and reverberated and echoed.

And we returned.

Here I am at the Kotel, day after Shavuot, 1967.