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On the Clashes in Jerusalem and their Mutually Opposing Horizons

On the Clashes in Jerusalem and their Mutually Opposing Horizons

Wednesday, 12 May, 2021 - 10:30

In the city of Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah and Damascus Gate, the noble notions that define our humanity are being stamped on. Intentions of expelling residents from their land, demeaning them, and insulting everything they believe to be holy and venerable, all at the same time. This becomes permissible merely because they are Arabs and Muslims. Others, because they are Jews, are allowed to take their place.

The story is incomplete without some crucial additional details: the perpetrators are settlers, but they are protected by the Israeli security forces. On top of that, they are represented in the Israeli government through their extremist and racist parties. At the same time, Israel, for its part, is having trouble forming a new government to put an end to the cycle of successive elections.

In other words, the intention is not merely to turn Palestinians into scapegoats for settlers’ exacerbating frenzies; the intention is to turn them into scapegoats for the crisis afflicting political life in Israel itself. Parallel and alternate factions, that is, the settlers, are being encouraged to take the initiative. There is something fascistic about this relationship overseen by a troubled Benjamin Netanyahu.

Describing the situation in Jerusalem and the Palestinians’ conflict with the settlers and Netanyahu does not necessarily require national or religious chauvinism. It requires only that one is morally inclined to support righteous victims everywhere and adheres to the principle of equality between human beings. Today, dragging their country to become a place where all rights are expelled can be added to the Israeli political elite’s record, but they are also taking it to a place where an increasing number are embarrassed to being associated with it, grabbing their friendship with the country by the fingertips.

True, preludes to this behavior can be found in the emergence of the Jewish state and the conditions that surrounded it, especially the wars, expulsions and collective displacement of the Palestinians. However, preludes can also be found in a problematic duality that the majority of the first Israelis wanted to build their state upon: a state that is both Jewish and democratic- and at the same time. Thus, the state’s Judaism, year after year, gradually overwhelmed its democracy. The first, like every religious affiliation, excludes, makes hierarchies of difference, and erects walls of separation, while the second, by its universal definition, is inclusive of the other and views individuals as individuals and citizens as equal citizens.

The flipside, democracy overwhelming Jewishness, was not fated to be. The era of identities entrenched that impossibility. As for its manifestation in our part of the world, it was the withering away of the Palestinian-Israeli peace after Yitzakh Rabin’s assassination and the subsequent second intifada. After that, Israel entered a prolonged period of political turmoil, a fruit of which was this inflation of populism expressed by the leader of Likud. But to all of this, we should add the aggravation of sectarian tensions and repression in neighboring Arab countries. Let us imagine, for example, Netanyahu bragging- and this, by the way, is not pure imaginative imagination: I treat my Arabs better than Bashar al-Assad treats his. I displace Jerusalemites? Between those displaced inside and outside the country, he expelled half of his population, and he targeted it with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. Before him, Saddam Hussein also used chemical weapons against his people...

On the other hand, the Arab Jerusalemites’ cause intersects with many other righteous causes: human rights pertaining to residents being forcibly uprooted from their homes, national rights pertaining to occupation and the political genocide of national groups. In addition, it is also one of the sites of the global battle against Islamophobia, as well as being among the battles of the world’s indigenous populations, a battle that is also of a global scare, to stay on their land and develop their own culture. On top of that, against arguments grounded in ancient religious promises, it is the battle of reason, progress and enlightenment. In the face of the techno-repressive machine, it is humanity’s against barbarism.

Thus, with these characteristics and others, it will not be hard for the Jerusalemites’ cause to speak to people’s consciences and impact some influential Western governments’ decisions. It is doing so today, though at a slow rate compared with the course of events. In the same sense, the mobilization has the potential to develop into a civil resistance movement that creates its own organizational tools, a resistance that it would be difficult for those who are not aligned with it to align themselves against it.

However, two inseparable parties threaten this promising projection: the missiles coming from the Gaza Strip and the rhetorical missiles of exaggerated triumphalism; Beirut and its suburbs, and with them, Damascus and Tehran, are their largest platforms. These two missiles could potentially provide the most crucial support to Jewish settlers and Netanyahu and give Israel the “chance” to wage another war in Gaza, through which Jerusalem and its cause would be lost, and the ongoing insurgency would become a mere additional round in the costly cyclical conflict that it is impossible for the Palestinians, whose tools of force are weak, to win. There are only two parties that stand to gain from this state of affairs: the settlers and their allies in Israel, and the regimes of the axis of resistance, the dexterous exploiters of Palestinian blood. This time, they shouldn’t be allowed to.

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